Passing through the Castro at at 11PM, I couldn't help stop at the newly opened Shanghai. For one, they switch from their full menu to a bunch of late night snacks from 10PM-11:45, adding a much needed Asian late night option to the Castro/Duboce Triangle area. Second, to the best of my knowledge, they're the only Shanghainese place in SF that has a large amount of seating, upscale decor, and a full bar.
I was told that the owner used to run a place at Rincon Center.
They don't have as extensive menu as some of the other Shanghainese places in town, but some things I recognized are red braised lions head meatballs, xiao long bao, shanghai style rice cakes, sweet and sour spareribs (they use balsamic vinegar), and a late-night only red braised pork that's served in a steamed clamshell bun. There are a few noodle dishes listed on the menu, but the only one with the Chinese characters for Shanghai, 上海, was a stir-fried udon noodle dish that's listed only on their late night menu. Shanghai noodles are close to but not identical to udon, so I'd be curious to see if they really use Shanghai noodles or not.
I'd already eaten dinner, so I only had stomach space for the Xiao Long Bao. At night, it's $8 for 6. They're made to order and served on cabbage leaves in a wooden steam basket. The dipping sauce was what it should be--- black vinegar with thin slivers of ginger. Each XLB retained its liquid, even with my clumsy handling of the plastic chopsticks, and the temperature was good enough that I was able to suck up the soup without burning myself. The chicken broth (not pork!) and meat filling were both nicely flavored.
XLB can sometimes be difficult to eat because the meat slips right out of the skin. For better or worse, that wasn't the case with these. The inside of the skin was gluey which, on the upside, caused the meat to cling to the wrapper, but on the downside, um, made it gluey.
2029 Market St
San Francisco, CA 94114