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Shanghai in Oakland - hits & misses

Gordon Wing | Aug 16, 200506:32 PM

had lunch today at Shanghai in Oakland in just before the noon hour rush and ordered the following: steamed dumplings (xiao lung bao), vegetarian goose, braised pork meat balls with vegetables (lion's head meatballs) , braised pork joint (pork shoulder) and steamed rice. It was an OK - Good lunch but not as good as I remember from our Chowhound lunch last year (?) The vegetarian goose might be a victim of my expectations - my memories of the Wu Kong version left me a bit disappointed in today's rendition....instead of a nice thin, crispy tofu skin with a savory mushroom filling today's version was 65% rolled tofu skin (not browned) and the mushroom filling was rather subtle.... mildly pleasant but without distinction. The rice was slightly wetter than I prefer and from the bottom of the pot: including some of the thick crust. Passable but I did notice. The lion's head meatballs (on menu as braised pork meat ball with vegetable) was my favorite dish today - 4 nicely browned meatballs with a scattering of spinach underneath. The meatballs were light in texture but still "meaty". Our last dish was the braised pork joint - it took about 30-35 minutes to arrive. A large portion (bone-in) of well braised pork shoulder with meltingly tender skin in a sauce flavored with star anise, cinnamon?, etc....this is enough for 6-8 people to share and is a bargain at $9.50. The greens listed on the menu were 4 pieces of bok choy - if you want to balance out your menu then order a separate vegetable dish even if it's part of the dish title. there might be an exception to this but both meat dishes I had were light on the veg. Although I liked the braised pork shoulder, I kept trying to figure out how different this was from my last rememberance. Today the sauce that came with the pork joint was plentiful and not as syrupy as I remember from before. The first time I had Shanghai's version I was very impressed - thought that the braising liquid was extremeley flavorful and glazed the meat - today it was plentiful but not focused in flavor. The xiao lung bao were OK/maybe good - no leaks - probably due to the slightly thick skins. The filling was slightly moist but that was it - no soup or liquid to burn yourself on. The slightly thick skins pushed the taste of the filling into the background. Use the vinegar and ginger to balance out the flavors. There are still things that I want to try (some of the eel dishes) but I'm not quite as enthusiastic as I was prior to today.....
930 Webster Oakland,CA 94607 510. 465-6878

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