Shanghai No. 1 Seafood Village is now open.
My first impression, walking through the door, was ... wow. They have taken the former Green Village space and turned it into what I imagine the Shanghai opium dens of the 1930s looked like. It is an opulent space, with scarlet walls and ebony woods. There are chairs in silver gilt fit for (minor) royalty.
I was there today for a late lunch. According to the sign, their grand opening was yesterday, December 18th. For lunch, they automatically present you with a dim sum order form, but you can also order regular dishes from the menu. The dim sum includes both the Cantonese and Shanghai varieties. The regular menu has the look and heft of a glossy fashion magazine like W - no mimeographed double-sided paper menus here. This is glossy paper with oversized close-up photos of mouthwatering-looking dishes, but I wasn't able to actually read the menu as it was monopolized by everyone else at the table, so I'm not sure what their prices are like.
We ordered, among others: the xiao long bao; vegetarian dumplings; special soup dumpling; baked pork buns, as well as some pastries. No dim sum carts - you can order from the menu, but there are also servers roaming the dining room with trays filled with dim sum ready-to-eat.
The food we had was great. As with all high-end dim sum establishments, the portions are small. The xiao long bao was so good, served in small tins. The skin was not too thick, just slightly chewy and practically melt-in-your mouth tender, with a gratifying spurt of juice. The XLB normally comes eight to an order, but there is a lunch size of only four dumplings for half the price. None of the dishes we sampled were overly seasoned - not too sweet, not too salty, just delicious.
Dining here is an experience to savor, from the fine china with gold edging to the relaxed and solicitous waiters. Unlike the typical Cantonese dim sum house, with its cavernous dining rooms, banging plates, and surly waiters, Shanghai No. 1 was a more intimate experience, with a relatively small main room. This meant that most of the food on the servers' trays was still hot from the kitchen, always a plus. This is the type of restaurant which uses real tea leaves in its tea (instead of tea bags) and where the servers use pens to notate on the order slip which dishes had already arrived to your table (instead of their fingernails). Despite only opening yesterday, the room was consistently 1/2 to 2/3 full.
Lunch dim sum prices are as follows: small dishes are $1.98; medium dishes are $2.98; large dishes are $3.98; specials are $4.98, with a few dishes even higher.
I really enjoyed my meal here and definitely plan to come back. I hope that everything stays the same and that they don't degenerate into another typical dim sum place.
Shanghai No. 1 Seafood Village
250 W Valley Blvd. #M, San Gabriel, CA 91776
P: (626) 288-1777
F: (626) 289-3777