New! Chowhound Cities: Satisfy your curiosity and your palate. Explore Cities
Discover the unexpected in the Bay Area. Explore All of the SF Bay Area
Restaurants & Bars 16

report and questions (long)

Al@Fairfax | Apr 13, 2004 07:33 PM

I have been a lurker on SF C'hounds for several months and thought I would never have anything to say--love the dining tips and the back & forth though, for which I thank you all. Then I joined a group of 10 for a meal at Old Shanghai on Geary & 16th, and this raised a few questions which I am betting some of you can answer. We started with a cold platter of some familiar items like thin slices of well-cooked and spiced beef, 5-spice chicken, small shrimp, and then some I have always thought of as European: a shredded cabbage with creamy sauce, and cubes of pork in gelatin. Question One: are they really Chinese, and if so, what could have been in the very tasty, western-seeming cole slaw sauce?

We proceeded to a platter of really well-cooked shrimp, shelled with a typical cornstarch/sesame oil coating; then slivered eel in a rich brown sauce, braised sea cucumber (which I loved) in another version of brown sauce, crispy skin duck, dungeness crab with yet another brown sauce, whole fish with crispy skin and moist flesh in a sweeter version of brown sauce, and my favorite dish: a fabulous red-cooked pork knucle (elbow, my host called it) with a deliciously unctuous fat layer and very well done, strongly flavored meat--and this also was in a kind of brown sauce.

Question two: what is with this brown sauce? Is this an authentic Shanghaiese touch, a sign of unimaginative kitchen, or could my host simply have been hooked on the stuff when he ordered?

Final question: I have found only a couple of brief mentions of Old Shanhai in searching Chowhounds. How does it rate versus other Bay area Shanghai restaurants?

Want to stay up to date with this post?

Recommended From Chowhound