fantastic Shanghai-nese restaurants in SF (or bay area)??
I am desperately seeking a really really good shanghai-nese restaurant -- I just moved here from New York City, where there are dozens of excellent ones, and I haven't been able find a replacement here. Can anyone recommend their favorite -- I'm looking for really authentic dishes, like fresh eel, and good red-braised fish dishes so please let me know where I can find them! Thanks.
I had dinner at Shanghai Gourmet in Richmond on monday with Alex Eisler, her husband and 1 year-old daughter. The staff were enchanted by the baby.
We ordered a bunch of stuff, just to get a good sense of the menu. The vegetarian duck was excellent - light and not leaden, many layers of tofu sheets, well-browned on the outside, and dripping with thick brown oil that did almost taste like duck fat. Our favorite dish was the combo of soybeans, fresh and preserved mustard greens and tofu strips - just hit the right balance with a slight sour/salty note - served hot rather than as a cold appetizer. The Shanghai dumplings had a lot of soup inside, but I felt the wrappers were too thick turning stiff and hard as soon as they started to cool off. The fried braised chunks of sea bass which our waiter had recommended looked so boring and bland when it was plunked down on the table. Lots of goopy white sauce, carrots and snow peas. But the flavor, while mild, was the height of freshness. The braised pork knuckle described as greaseless on the menu turned out to be HALF a ham! I've had better brown sauces and the texture was on the coarse side rather than unctuous. And, the last dish was Shanghai style rice cakes with pork strips and cabbage. I liked the addition of slices of dried mushroom which added a smoky element, however, the rice cakes were too gooey in texture. With steamed rice, this set us back $47 before tax and tip, and we had enough left over to feed two more people. They're running a springtime week day special, with every $25 ordered, you get one free dish. If we'd known this ahead of time we'd have ordered up to get the second free one.
I'd definitely go back and experiment more with the menu. The restaurant has another branch in Walnut Creek.
Monday while making the traverse along Mission Blvd. between 680 and 880, spotted this little place in the Lion Plaza shopping center on the corner on Warm Springs Blvd. It's more stripped down than Shanghai Gourmet and they seem to specialize in small dishes with a Chinese language-only menu for weekend mornings. You can order from the menu or, as I did, choose from the prepared foods on display. I focused on the cold dishes since I had a ways to go before my next stop --- the Bai-Yi with Salted Vegetable and Smoked Chicken. This version was the tofu strips and greens sans soy beans. The veggies turned out to be more fresh mustard greens with little salted/pickled ones. But this turned out to the right counterpoint to the smoked chicken (hacked drumstick and thigh) which was pretty salty. These set me back $6.40 and was enough for lunch for two days.