A couple of weeks ago I reported on my solo foray into Oakland to check out Shanghai Restaurant after hearing about it for two years, finding it to my liking, and vowing to return with my extended family. I haven't yet convinced the the sceptical full plenum of finicky Shanghainese eaters, but today I managed to drag my Select Committee (a.k.a. wife and stepdaughter) to the terra incognita of Oakland Chinatown.
Sliced Pork Leg (cold appetizer)
Xiaolong bao (natch)
Stir-fried rice cakes (nian gao) with Shepherd's Purse
Congyou bing (Green onion pancakes)
xie ke huang (Crab shaped stuffed pastry)
Shanghai style shaomai (siu mai)
Everything was pronounced excellent, to the extent that personal preferences allow. The xie ke huang, for example, turned out to be the sweet-filled variety studded with sesame seeds instead of the flakier savory version, which was a disappointment for my wife and me, but the kid loved them. I found the nian gao a trifle too salty, but not my wife or stepdaughter (who usually is the first to complain about saltiness). Both the xiaolong bao and the congyou bing were the equal of the best we have had either in the U.S. or Shanghai, and my wife kept commenting that everything had the "Shanghai flavor." Perhaps giddy from the music of the Shanghai dialect at play around us and the opportunity to banter with the all-Shanghainese staff, she startled her daughter and me by commenting that it was "better than her own cooking."
We'll be back, double in number, to attack some of the "rice" dishes. But Shanghai Restaurant, which bills itself in its Chinese name only as a "small eats" place, has already established its pre-eminence in that category in the immediate Bay Area, in our esteem. Too bad it's on the wrong side of the bridge.