My wife and daughter and I flew in from Tokyo today, and after a short rest, decided to go out for a light Chinese dinner. Still jet lagged, and remembering good words about Shanghai Dumpling on this board recently, we drove over the hill into the Richmond and out Balboa to get there. Luck was with us because there was an empty parking space right in front. But the story gets better.
Since the long flight had dried out our throats and sinuses, we decided to go for the Hot and Sour Soup ($4.50) even though it's a Shanghai Place. With not very high expectations, we were served a HUGE bowl (enough for at least 5 people) and it was pretty darn good, particularly the rich pork stock. It did lack white vinegar, and a small dish of it was brought to the table soon after we asked. It also needed a bit more chili oil, but was plenty hot with white pepper, so I didn't ask.
The Green Onion Cake ($4.25) was also a much larger portion than expected at that price. It was a bit more pastry like than versions I'd had before, but thick and filling, and nicely made nonetheless. It could have used a bit more seasoning, but a drop of soy sauce and a dab of hot chili paste really brought it to life.
The main event were the Xiao Long Bao, which were just plain eXcelLent Bao. I am not familiar with the real thing in the real place, but these were scruptuous, full of viscous soup, with thin yet strongly elastic wrappers. Superbly understated spicing in the meat balls inside. Served with black vinegar, of course. Ten of these marvels were only $4.95. We WILL be back.
Daughter wanted Chow Mein, so we got the vegetable version (4.25), which was so-so and not very inspired. The broccoli was slightly undercooked and a bit bitter, the other vegetables were shredded carrots and the yellowish inside parts of Chinese cabbage. And noodles, that was it. Still, it was finished with a good grade of sesame oil, which gave it a bit of class.
Since it is crab season, I ordered a crab dish which was advertised with a wall sign in Chinese (reading "crab" + "foon (as in rice noodle)" + "egg white"). Didn't know exactly what it was, but it looked good in Chinese, and was only $6.95. Unfortunately, they had just ran out of it. We will try that one next time.
Our bill was $19.47 for three, and we took home some of the onion cake.
I think Shanghai Dumpling will become our new favorite Chinese restaurant in SF. It was clean, pleasant, cheap, unassuming and delicious. Our server really couldn't speak English, but another one could. Service was fast and flawless, and they are nice people.
3319 Balboa at 34th, SF
Open for Lunch and Dinner