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Shang Hai Taste Delight, Mountain View

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I noticed this place with the “Open” sign still lit while driving by after 11pm last night on my way to crash at my bro’s place in Palo Alto. Hmm, just might be worth checking out just to have another rare late night place in Silly Valley.

This morning I took my brother there for an early lunch when it opened at 11am. Small with less than 10 tables, the pastel shades of the interior and the all-Chinese signage on the walls felt very authentic to me. The English language menu has no Shanghai specialties at all and is centered on the typical take-out sort of standards. This restaurant has been open for 3 years.

A fluorescent green menu printed on both sides features Shanghai style small plates and many more posted on the walls. Not being literate in Chinese, I picked out the standard dishes that I do know the characters for, which gave us a good sampling of what the kitchen can do. Our waitress understood a good amount of English and she translated my choices into English for me to make sure I was getting what I really wanted. General pricing levels seemed a bit high, but it turns out the serving size here is generous.

We had fried gluten puffs in rice wine (kao3 fu1), bai-yi with salted green vegetable and soy beans, Shanghai steamed pork dumplings (xiao3 long2 bao1), and rice cakes with green vegetable and pork shreds). The kao fu was the best I’ve tasted locally. The pieces were sliced into neat cubes and the look reminded me of Tuscan panzarella. They gushed with sweet and dusky marinade as you bite into these soaked sponges and were so richly flavored I could only eat a few pieces. Some strips of bamboo shoots, slivers of carrot, soy beans and wood ears were part of the marinated mix which was served cold.

The bai-yi dish was served hot, right out of the wok, rather than room temp or cold as I’ve had elsewhere. This was our favorite dish, and I’m happy that it was a big serving so that I can polish off the rest for lunch tomorrow. This had a higher proportion of the bai-yi (tofu sheet strips) which was fine as it’s my favorite part.

The dumplings were merely decent. The top knot-twisted wrappers were too thick, but at least these were suitably tender. The soup inside was a little skimpy but very flavorful and the pork filling had the correct soft almost creamy texture. This was accompanied by black vinegar with some very fine shreds of fresh ginger.

The rice cakes had all the right stuff but missed the mark. The wok wasn’t hot enough to add the smoky seared quality to make this dish. This was really too bad as the rice cakes were nice and chewy and the balance of veggie to meat was spot on.

With tax and 15% tip, these four dishes were $30. We had polished off the dumplings on site but had more than 2/3 of each of the others to take home. This was enough for 4 people.

I grabbed a Chinese menu to have a friend help translate, and I’ll be back to try more things here.

Shang Hai Taste Delight
855 W. El Camino Real
(between Shoreline and Castro St.)
Mountain View
650.988.8820
Tues-Sun: 11:00am –2:30pm; 4:30pm – 1:00am

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  1. I share your interest in Shanghai cuisine. I myself would call xiao3long2bao1 "buns" rather than jiao3zi (dumplings), however.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Veronese

      Yes, I agree with you that "buns" would be the more correct translation. However, the ones I prefer are more dumpling like than bread like with thinner skins. Also, menus will often say dumplings.

      Have you found any that are particularly good? It's a continual search...

      1. re: Melanie Wong

        My mouth is watering!!!!

        It's been so long since I've had good xiao long bao! I remember having plump, thin-skinned dumplings (buns, whatever) that would burst in your mouth at Shanghai Garden restaurant in Hong Kong. So good.

        So... does anyone know of any good cookbooks for dim sum, since it isn't likely that I'll get any soon any other way?

        1. re: gourmandise

          If you go to this website, you'll find links to loads of dim sum recipes:

          Link: http://chinesefood.about.com/cs/dimsum/

        2. re: Melanie Wong

          Last time I went to Chef Ding's San Mateo, they were good. And they were the thin skin kind. But this was over a year ago, so I am not sure if the quality is still the same. One thing to note is that xiao3 long2 bao1s, because of how fast the juices get absorbed by the wrappers, are definitely for eating at the resturant, not for taking home.

          1. re: grow_power

            Hi GP, yes, absolutely one has to eat xlb while they're actually too hot to eat or sacrifice the juices. You can watch them ossify in seconds before your very eyes.

        3. re: Veronese

          Bao1 just means to wrap around, or to contain, and so to make dumplings we say Bao1 jao3 Zi.
          But of course, we're all used to thinking "Bao1 Zi" as the meat-filled steamed buns with bread-like dough.

          Over here in NYC the Chinese characters are xiao3 long2 Tang1(soup) bao1, which indicates that it's got "Soup". It seems to help to have the menu say "Steamed soup dumplings" in English.

          1. re: HLing
            c
            Caitlin McGrath

            "Steamed juicy buns" is another common translation on NYC menus, differentiating, I suppose, from plain old steamed buns (no soup).