This little Shanghainese restaurant is still in business, but it is difficult to tell how they are able to survive. We went for dinner Sunday night at 7. There was a single Chinese diner. While we were there, another lone diner and a young couple came in.
Anyway, on to the food. The Cantonese waitress remembered me from last time and brought me the Chinese menu. Here is what we tried:
1) West Lake Beef Soup - Light on the cilantro, not too thick with cornstarch, this was a decent to good rendition (add a little white pepper to taste). My husband finished up every last drop.
2) Shanghai Smoked Fish - Delicious. The fish was freshly prepared, moist and not overly sweet. Watch for bones, but it is perfect to pick at with chopsticks and taken in little bites.
3) Xiao Long Bao (steamed buns) - This is the one item that is not made in house, I learned after we ordered. The wrapper is too thick and risen. Don't order it here.
4) Dragon Well Tea Shrimp - Tender, delicate in flavor, nicely done.
5) Braised Fish Tails - This is a typical Shanghainese dish and very well done here. There were 5 good sized pieces (again watch out for bones) in a tasty sauce.
6) Pan crisped tofu on a bed of spinach - We'd had this once before and my daughter absolutely loves it. Nine squares of tender tofu that are dipped in some kind of eggy batter, pan fried and placed atop sauteed spinach, with a light sauce. This would be a good dish to introduce to non tofu eaters.
For dessert, the chef gave us complimentary bowls of tang yuan (glutinous rice balls) filled with black sesame paste, 2 each. Just the right touch to round out the meal.
Portions here are on the moderate side, but we had plenty of leftovers and were extremely full. The bill came to $61 before tip. Both the shrimp and the fish tails were $12.95, the most expensive items on the menu. For the quality and execution, we were very satisfied with our meal.
I chatted a little with the chef's wife, Lily. She commented that this holiday season the dine in business has been lighter, but take out orders are still decent. They have not done any advertising, not even in the Chinese newspapers. I suggested they do that to capture more local business. We talked about advance ordering for a Lunar New Year banquet. Both beggar's chicken and braised pork leg (ti-pang) require one day's advance notice.
If anyone does try this place, so far the must order items are the smoked fish, the panfried tofu, and depending on your cholesterol count, the braised pork belly (zou3 you2 rou4) (see Melanie's post), dragon well shrimp or the fish tails. The Shanghai stir fried noodles are good too. There are daily specials on the chalkboard also.