My wife Jen and I love going to Old Shanghai on Geary in SF.
Note: I am not Shanghainese so I cannot vouch for the accuracy of this restaurant's food with respect to authentic Shanghainese cuisine. However, we've been to many terrific restaurants (Ding Tai Fung in Taipei comes to mind, as well as lots of places in HK, Beijing, Nanjing...) and do enjoy all sorts of Chinese cuisine.
5145 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94118
What we've had:
Xiao Long Tang Bao: Awesome. Filling is delicious, the bao is always intact (not ripped), and always has just a bit of soup inside for lubrication. Mmmmmm. The best we've had in SF, but we are not experts. Its not Ding Tai Fung, but its delicious.
Crab Xiao Long Bao: Okay. Its very delicious, but its not 40% more delicious than the regular pork ones, seeing as how its 40% more pricey.
Chow Liu Yu Pian (Fish slices): I'm sorry I have no idea what this is in English. Its a dish with this translucent sauce in which sits TONS of slices of flounder and cloud ear. So light, the fish is expertly tossed in the wok .... you know how terrific fish can be when its super fresh and it cooked JUST enough? That's this dish. This dish is great.
Qing Chow Xia Ren (Crystal Shrimp?): This is another simple prep. There's not much taste to this dish other than the flavor of the shrimp itself. No sauce really...just expertly wok tossed shrimps out of the shell. This has so much good wok-breath flavor ... the shrimp taste can't hide behind any other sauce ... and its cook at such a high heat, its JUST right ... not too cooked, not undercooked. This may be construed as bland.... I construe it as EXCELLENT ... given the subtleties of the great wok breath.
Dan-Dan Mein (noodles). Anybody have an English name for this? Toothsome noodles with intensely peanut flavored ground pork topping....ohhh this is soo good. The dish is more than a sum of its parts. I'm not an expert at this kind of mein, but this is so tasty.... just the right peanutness, and the slight chewiness of the noodles and the just right ratio of topping to noodles makes it delicious.
Zha-Jiang Mein (Noodles). The best southern version of this classic dish that I've found in SF.
No-mi shao-mai (hmmmm... glutinous rice shao-mai?) I didn't like this too much. But maybe that's my cantonese/American taste buds talking. Bland.
Sung Dzian Bao (how to translate .... uhh.. pan fried bao i think?) Jen loves these. Expertly pan fried, coated with sesame seeds on the bottom. The dough is not too thick and not too thin, and the filling is garlicky and right.
Xien Rou Su Bin (uhhh ... "fresh meat flaky-pastry patty?) I think this is delicious. This is like a small (size of 8 stamps) flaky pastry that's very temperature-hot and inside is pork filling. Its so flaky you think its fried but its not oily at all. ITs delicious. Dip it in hot sauce or whatever sauce, This is great.
Djou Tsai Jiao Dz (Leek and pork dumpling) : these are not bad. The wrapper is handmade and tasty, but the filling could use bigger shrimp and more intense leek. I think this is leek. Is that how you translate djou-tsai? Anyone? Actually I thought this was better at Sun Wu Kong down the street.
Anyways, as a whole, Jen and I think this place is great. Plus it feels clean. Plus the waitstaff (which is the owner and a helper) is really friendly; nice change of pace from Cantonese people. But maybe they look down on me 'cos I can't speak Shanghainese ... who knows? hahahah.
Anyways, comments, other observations, or just better translations are most welcome!