New Shanghai, Chinatown, Boston....and a goose sighting!!!!
Rubee, 9lives, Barleywino and I gave New Shanghai a whirl tonight. I think the consensus was that it was fine, but didn't live up to the heights of this regional cuisine.
I asked in Chinese, and they didn't have crispy eel. Bummer. It's easily one of my favorite dishes from the Shanghainese cooking.
The best dishes of the evening were the sliced kidneys in chilli oil (almost mushroom-like crunchiness and no bad flavors that one often associates with kidneys) and the Shanghainese kao fu, a well textured gluten dish touched with hints of star anise typical of the cuisine.
A vegtarian goose consisting of crispy tofu skin warpped around straw mushrooms was also quite lovely.
The drunken chicken (marinated or poached in wine) was fine and well prepared, but didn't have as much complexity from the wine as I would have liked.
Spicy wontons seemed to recall a Szechuan classic where the dumplings are soaked in a spicy hot oil. Here it's somewhat different, topped with something like a peanut sauce.
The stewed pork rump was very hearty and the gelatinous fatty skin was quite delicious, even though the meat should have been silkier and more moist. The sauce seemed to be made separately, instead of using the braising sauces that are often part and parcel of the Shanghainese braised dishes; hence the sweet lard that flavors the braising sauces is missing.
Sauteed eel was a major disappointment. The eel was very fishy; even the vinegar in the dish could not cover that.
We liked the spicy duck dish even though it wasn't a Shanghainese classic -- the duck was well cooked-- tender with bright and dark flavors.
On the whole, it didn't live up to my expectations. Been seriously craving Shanghainese, and alas, will have to keep on searching.
But there's a silver lining. Next door, we scanned the menu at Ho Yuen Ting and spotted what I thought to be Teochew-style braised goose on the menu!!! Yes -- major exclamation marks!!! I've been looking for this dish in the US for nearly half a decade; in fact, one of my first few queries ever on the chowhound boards was about trying to find this goose. My (wild) goose chase might soon be over. Fingers tightly and desperately crossed.