"B" List Shanghai Places
- Jim Leff
I've noticed a few places cropping up, mostly in midtown, shamelessly copping the Joe's Shanghai theme...heavily featured soup dumplings, Anglo surnames (e.g. "John's Shanghai"), etc. They clearly cater to gringos, but often offer stuff (jellyfish, drunken crab) that doesn't seem gringo-friendly (and it's tough to determine whether it's cuz they cater to a split clientele or if they're just SUPER obediently following the successful Joe's model).
I'm now looking at a takeout menu from John's Shanghai right now (they're at 144 W46), and it at least LOOKS serious. It's never ever been mentioned on site. And while I can't remember names/locations, there are at least three or four others like it, new zippy places nobody I know has tried.
Anybody have experiences to recount? I'm tempted to ignore them as knock-offs, figuring that if they were good, somebody here would have reported on 'em. But I figured I'd ask.
Also, is the Joe's in midtown still awful?
Joe's in midtown will never rival the glories of great Chinese food available elsewhere in this city. However, if you are condemned to work and eat many delivery meals in Midtown, simple dishes including lion's head, shanghai-style flat noodles, turnip cakes, make a flavorful delivery lunch or dinner. I do not recommend the delivery of soup buns which don't travel or the "lunch specials" which are the usual glop, but as someone who spent the pre-joe's era deciding which sub-par dish to order from Chef Ho on yet another Sunday at the office, I cannot call the midtown Joe's "awful". It has a role to play.
I occasionally go to Joe's Shanghai for lunch and have their "cho chow mein" which isn't listed on the gringo menu. (or if it is maybe it goes by another name) It's decent sometimes and greasy/too salty othertimes. Basically it's noodles with watercress and chicken in sauce. I'm not too crazy about paying midtown prices for lackluster chinese food when I can go to Chinatown and get great food at cheap prices. To get my money's worth, I really like Shanghai Gourmet on Mott St. (near Bayard) for superb dumplings. Try comparing them to Joe's Shanghai's on Pell St. and let me know what you think.
And when in Midtown ordering hell, remember that there is the frequently excellent Evergreen, and they deliver. Though not always swiftly.
The link below has just a portion of what is available on the printed menu, but still worth checking out. My favorite: the Shredded Pork with Ribboned Bean Curd & Preserved Cabbage. Quickly became an addiction for my whole office. Well, except for the programmers who just exclusively ate Blimpie's, pizza and wings and washed it down with Red Bull and Jolt.