Before driving home after my recent meetings in the Capitol, I took a dinner break at I-Shanghai Delight in Old Sacramento to wait out traffic. This is a branch of the Fremont Shanghainese restaurant of the same name. It's down a steep flight of stairs below grade and there is no elevator.
In the exhibition dumpling kitchen, the head chef in the tall toque was instructing two others in how to wrap dumplings. It was fascinating to watch, as he corrected placement of the wrapper in the palm of the hand and wrist angle.
Steamed pork dumplings (xiao long bao) were bigger than usual and well-splaced on the large bamboo steamer basket so that they did not touch each other. The dumplings were accompanied by black vinegar with shreds of fresh ginger root. The pork was a fine grind with some starch binder holding them together in a compact meatball. They were bursting with slightly sweet, fatty soup and very good with tender wrappers. I was amused watching a regular customer at the next table bite into hers and spill the precious soup all over her plate and blouse. Though the server suggested that she use a spoon, she continued to eat them this way with considerable gusto. To each his/her own.
Pan-fried pork dumplings (sheng jian bao) were even better with slightly different, looser and slightly cured rosy hued pork filling, crunchy browned bottoms, and squirting with meaty juices.
Cooked fold side down, the wrapper was crisp all the way through the different layers. Though not that dark, these had plenty of crunch. The SJB were considerably better than those at San Francisco&#39;s China Live.
Braised rice with green vegetable and salted pork (cai fan) was also good. Pretty greased up with pork fat, as seen in the puddle on the bottom of the plate. A nice touch was the browning of the salt pork to a crisp combined with cubes of leaner plain pork meat. This was a great leftover for lunch the next day.
The menu has squares for checking off an order.
The restaurant has been open for a month.
Sacramento's ex-pat Chinese community has already found this authentic Chinese restaurant. I heard a few regional accents of Mandarin among customers in the room.
1115 Front St.