Monday, April 11, 2011


JJ Tang Bao2
Jia Jia Tang Bao



I lost my main notepad from the trip, so I've included a few notes below.

Xiao Long Bao.  When one goes to shanghai, it makes sense to get a good sampling of xlb.  My first observation is that xlb are small boa, not necessarily full of soup. Aside from one tourist oriented place in the center of town, most refer to the soup flooded dumplings as tang bao or literally soup dumplings.  I love tang bao and came to love Shen Jen Bao as well, so I had a sampling of each whenever they were on the menu.

My favorite xlb were at: the place across from Yang’s SJB on Huanghu Lu – Jia jia Tang Bao, Fu Chun, and finally the neighborhood place downstairs from the Huang’s place. 

Shen Jen Bao
Street Shen Jen Bao2

Shen Jen Bao are the specialty at Yang’s and unfortunately the 2x I tried them, they had skins a bit tough and chewy and I found something questionable in one of them.   SJB are found at various sidewalk stands.  I didn't find these SJB to be superior to the one's I had on the street, though the filling had a particular herbal note that made them slightly different.  The skin was crisped and the rest of the skin was that chewy noodle texture.  Fine and probably traditional, but I preferred the ones from our neighborhood shop. 

Shen Jen Bao from downstairs

Those had more of a steamed bun (think bbq pork bun) texture with a crispy crunchy bottom and were filled with meat and its juices that had a clean clear flavor, they were so juicy that I was always surprised that the soup did not seep through the more bun-like skins.

Could be that I had bad batches at Yang's but after two visits I gave up.  The place I would go for SJB are a couple of little stands near people’s square.  Their skins were less tough, they had a lot of meat in them and were quite juicy.   SJB is one of the things I wish I could get at home.

Jesse - Another shanghainese classic is hong shao rou, red braised pork.  It's a dish people eat at home as well as at restaurants.  I think the best restaurant rendition was at Jesse. Tender meat, chewy fatty bits and deeply flavored with soy sauce and the right amount of sweetness.  The version we had from the home cook was not that different, though the meat was less tender.  I found it interesting that at even the more upscale restaurants they offered at lot of shnaghainese home cooked type dishes and not necessarily dressed up cheffy dishes.  Then again a lot of the food at restaurants in SF is stuff easily made at home

My favorite Jesse dish was the steamed fish head covered in roasted scallions which was tender and full of umami flavor and carmelized scallion.  Sounds simple, but this is something I would find difficult to replicate due to the sourcing and the skill involved.  The locals all agreed it was a very special.  Crab noodle dish also quite impressive. Delicate yet fully flavored. I could eat at Jesse regularly if I lived in shanghai.

Yu Xin
Yu Xin

Yu Xin – This was one of my favorite places.  We had a full family dinner of Szechuan specialties.  Too many dishes to name, but I would definitely return.

Bellagio – this is a Taiwanese café chain in the shopping district, great Taiwanese diner style dishes in a trendy pop environ.  Taiwanese stewed pork minced pork and shaved ice just like in Taiwan.

Charmant Shave Ice
Charmant Shave Ice

Charmant - an upscale cafe restaurant near the U.S. embassy.  A menu of Taiwanese specialties and a nice list of toppings for shave ice.  Piled high and very finely shaved, I preferred it to the one at Bellagio.  I tried the niou rou mien, it was fine.  1414 Huaihai Zhong Lu

Di Shui DOng Cumin Ribs

Di Shui Dong - a Hunan place named after the cave where Mao hid just prior to the revolution.  The servers were in traditional garb and the place has a sort of country feel to it.  The menu was extensive and looked great.  Unfortunately I didn't have enough stomach space for more than two dishes.  I went for the cumin ribs and the suan dou jiao (sour beans with hot peppers and ground meat).  The ribs were delicious and liberally sprinkled with cumin and sesame, a good balance between cumin flavor and spice.  I cannot remember the suan dou jiao at this point.  I would've headed back if I'd had a chance.  2/F, 56 Maoming Nan Lu
Cafe Dan Crab Salad

Café Dan – a little café in a high end arts shopping area.  Had a very nice crab salad, fresh, nice textures and a light rice vinaigrette.

Jia Jia Tang Bao - these were my favorite xlb, both the pork and the crab are very good, though I thought the crab was a bit overseasoned and didn't have the delicate crab flavor I was expecting, so on my repeat visit I went for the pork.  Really excellent, thin skins, soupy and not overstuffed.  This was the tang bao style, but there was a nice balance between the soup and the meat.  90 Huanghe Lu, 黄河路90号 近凤阳路

Fu Chun was my other  favorite for xlb, this is a neighborhood place where I spied a few families coming for breakfast.  Their crab xlb had a delicate crab flavor and their pork xlb

Fu Chun Crab XLB

Cibao - Seven treasures, a narrow street of shops that becomes a narrow street of street eats.  We sampled a sweet sugar cake stuffed with read bean, sort like a pancake then glazed with sugar, then a tasting of stinky tofu topped with the spicy dipping sauce, the a reed stuffed with sticky rice, very interesting, then a grilled chicken wing sprinkled with salt and a slightly spicy powder, on to a cream puff, and a goat meat specialist where they had goat braising on a pot out front.  

Goat Specialist at Cibao -  When we asked for a tasting they suggested the goat meat noodle soup, the meat was delicious, tender and gamey with a seasoned darkened exterior, the noodles were thin what I call hakata style and went perfectly with the meat, though the soup itself was full of lamb flavor it was a bit fatty.  I craved something acidic, so we stopped by a drinks stand, but I was a bit distracted by the fact that they had ice and ordered something that didn't taste too good.  Later we stopped at a juice stand where I got a kumquat lemonade which was perfect to cut the rich lamb fat.  we also could not resist a muslim chinese food stand where they were baking fresh flatbread and grilling lamb kabobs. I was far too full to eat the kabob, but had a few bites of flatbread, which was a bit more crackery and flat tasting than we had expected.

Lamb Noodle Soup
lamb noodle soup

Sipailu - Tiny stretch of street eats behing the City Temple.  Really traditional style meaning the santation is non existent.  Stands include skewers of lamb, octopus; fried tofu, cold noodles (liang fun), fried rice and noodles, large soup bowls for hot pot, fresh egg cookies, noodle soups.

Shanghai Uncle - An upscale restaurant at the base of an office building.  We had a cake made of fava bean paste which was served too cold and wasn't terribly exciting.  Then came roast goose which was very good served with a sweet dipping sauce.  We also sampled their roast pork, stacks of roast, and braised pork with a crispy skin fried on top, served flaming with a salt pepper dipping dish and an apple sweet sour dip.  I did not try the tofu noodles, the shanghai cut noodles were not oily, cut into fairly small pieces and coated with a dark sauce that tasted a bit flat, though I could see the restraint and light hand with the dish.  The ribs with a sweet sauce and pine nuts were excellent, beautifully braised ribs with a sweet and slightly tangy sauce counterbalanced by the pine nuts.  This place is fine for a business dinner, though I there are better places for food.

Lanzhou La Mien – fun to watch them make the noodles, the spicy cumin lamb noodles was pungent and filling, though I’m not sure I’d go out of my way to eat here.

La Rou Si Mian Guan – spicy pork noodles were not available early in the morning, so I settled for some noodle soup.  Fine.

Asman – had their cumin lamb chuan and flatbread, average.

Southern Barbarian - interesting little place specializing in Yunan food.  The offerings were interesting, though I wouldn't say they were worth a stop.  The bbq'd pork ribs were small pieces of grilled ribs served with a dipping sauce, fine though not worth a stop.  The potato pancake was basically a crispy hashbrown with minimal seasoning and the salt and pepper goat cheese sort of reminded me a greek cooked cheese, though this goat cheese was not very pungent and lacked flavor.  The sauteed vegetables not on the menu were actually really well cooked, flavorful and not oily.

No comments: