We Gregory + Marcella = Marcelory have been expanding our restaurant repertoire thanks to the mouthwatering and helpful reviews here. Tonight was Shanghai Restaurant, in our 'hood (at 9th and Judah). We promised ourselves that if we went, we'd have to review it as a small thanks.
We arrived there, balky three-year-old in tow, around 6PM, to find that we were the only people seated in the restaurant. We had carefully scanned Chowhound reviews to get a sense of what to order. Then, of course, we arrived only to find that few of them were on the menu. Shyly, Greg asked for xiao long bao, which were apparently a magic word. The waitress seemed surprised and amused, then disappeared, only to materialize holding a Shanghai specialties menu in English. (We breathed a collective sigh of relief no Kung Pao chicken tonight.)
In the end, we ordered:
Drunken chicken: The shaoxing wine was strong and a little sweet. Its interesting that cold can be a texture. We liked the interplay of cold, sweet, sour, and salty, and all ate multiple pieces. Marcella had to be restrained from eating the entire half chicken. We noted that it seemed to taste the best when it was very cold as it warmed up, the flavors muted.
Vegetarian goose: Rich mushrooms were sweet, tofu was crispy. Served warm, not hot, which was fine. We liked comparing the textures of the different components to their goose counterparts the crispy tofu skin, the tender mushroom meat.
Shanghai pan fried noodles: The waitress recommended these to appease a carb-loving toddler. These thick noodles were probably our least favorite they felt bland at first, although they grew on us a bit later. They were garnished with beef, cabbage, and what appeared to be pea shoots, which made Marcella sad because she realized she could have ordered pea shoots in the first place. We are learning to relate to oily as a positive texture.
Tea smoked duck: Marcella thought it was juicy, Greg less so. The rich, smoky flavor, combined with the slightly charred texture and sweetness of the (plum?) sauce, reminded Marcella of nothing so much as the southern barbeque she grew up with. We liked pairing the meat with the chewy buns.
Xiao Long Bao: The magic word dish. Substantial and piping hot. The sauce was pungent and had slivers of perhaps ginger floating in it. On this, Marcellas first time around, she could not detect any actual broth in the dumplings. Greg, hardly an xlb virgin, found sufficient broth. Perhaps Marcella expected broth to gush forth with each bite. Mildly flavored and yummy we ate them all.
$41 including 20% tip. We will be eating tea smoked duck and noodles well into tomorrow afternoon.
Some Shanghai specialties for next time:
Sliced pig trotters
Dried duck (the waitress dissuaded us, but wed like to at least try it next time. The descriptions on the menu compared it to prosciutto.)
Thanks for reading!