Does Anyone Remeber the Shanghai Cafe on 126th & Broadway?
Does anyone remember the Shanghai Cafe on Broadway just north of 125th street? It closed in the early 80's more or less. Family legend has it that it is the first restaurant I ever ate at while in a stroller.
I have been on a semi-perpetual quest for their hot and sour soup.
Not just nostalgia, the food there was some of the best Chinese I ever ate. From the beef with black bean sauce to the shrimp with lobster sauce, it really defined excellent old school NY Chinese.
No wonder they closed; most of the waiters were in their 60's or older at that point.
I don't think I ever ate a bad morsel there. What I would give for one more meal there, or at least some of their Hot and Sour...
I would go there in the 1950's when I was at City College. I would often rendezvous with friends who were at Columbia.
I pointed an old friend to this thread and he remenisced:
"They used to take reservations only for groups of 6 or more.
Once 6 of us were planning to go, and Leon made
a reservation. But 2 people cancelled, so there were only 4
of us. We got on line, as of course we had to It was a big
line, and we began to feel guilty at the sight of an empty table
laid for 6. So Leon went to the phone booth near the front
door, phoned the Shanghai Cafe, and cancelled. We saw
the manager take the call but didn't hear what he said. When
Leon came back, we asked him. "He said," said Leon, "Never
My parents used to take me there in the 1950s. My father spoke some Shanghai dialect Chinese and found out that he and the owner had some common acquaintances from Shinaghai in the early 1940s. If I remember correctly, the owner said he could not make it downtown because no one understood Shanghai cuisine and he figured that he would have at least some chance of success uptown where the Columbia Univ. people might appreciate his food. I went back in the late 1970s and he remembered me. The food was great back in the 1950s and it was great when I went back in the late 1970s. You're probably right that it closed sometime in the early 1980s because I tried to go back in the late 1980s and it was gone. Thanks for bringing back some great memories.
I don't usually read the Manhattan board, but I've been in NYC a lot lately and caught this ancient thread posted by Striper, familiar Boston poster, that revived many fond memories.
Ate frequently at Shanghai Cafe back in early '70s as a Manhattan School of Music student and Claremont Ave. resident (a neighborhood called "White Harlem," by George Carlin, who grew up there). Chowed down a lot at Moon Palace, too, as well as the Cuban/Chinese place on Broadway under the El. There was a good Indian place on 125th Street, too, near Amsterdam.
But my go-to was Tom's Diner, immortalized by Suzanne Vega and Seinfeld. Wish I could remember the name of the aging waitress who always treated us royally while we scarfed down the cheeseburger special or the patitisio, best I ever had -- though that's probably nostalgia talking, same as Striper's memory of his hot and sour soup. Thomas Wolfe had it right, at least in the case of food memories: you can't go home again.
Quite an old thread to revive: yes, I ate there many times in the early 1970's when it was a great alternative to Moon Palace. But it was a dicey area--a friend was there once for dinner and the whole place was robbed by two guys with guns...after emptying the wallets, etc, they left and everyone just kept eating. I don't recall if everyone had an IOU with the management!