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Sep 16, 2002 09:32 AM

Does Anyone Remeber the Shanghai Cafe on 126th & Broadway?

  • s

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...

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  1. Yes, I remember eating there often and also at Tien Tsin which was right around the corner, on 125 Street. I happened to be back up there a couple of years ago and enjoyed the Chinese Cuban place that is directly accross Broadway from Shanghai Cafe or where it was.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Jerry

      Tien Tsin was the brother in law of the owner of Shanghai Cafe

    2. I ate there many times. Here is their business card enlarged to 8 x 10. I would love to get my hands on a menu, even just a take out menu. There has to be one around somewhere. Enjoy.

      5 Replies
      1. re: budlift

        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!

        1. re: penthouse pup

          Yes it was an old thread to revive!
          Here also is an outside shot (restaurant was closed). The card and this photo are from about 1971 or 1972. I fond them in my stuff recently.

            1. re: Fuchef

              Sorry! It was just those two, but they are on my wall now

              1. re: budlift

                My office was around the corner on 126th street just west of Amsterdam...Fridays we would have a weekly lunch with two or three key staff members..
                Both places were great...moved from there about 1993 or 94...still miss that food...

      2. My wife and I used to eat there in the late sixties. I seem to recall a whole deep fried fish and fried dumplings were favorites. At the time eating uptown seemed somewhat exotic. The food was good and unusual compared to Chinatown and Upper east side Chinese.

        1. 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.

          2 Replies
          1. re: katzzz

            Her name was Betty, and she was there for a long, long time.

            1. re: penthouse pup

              Thank you, Pup. I loved Betty, as did we all.

          2. 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.

            5 Replies
            1. re: nanashi

              After he died in 1977 the restaurant was sold to a friend and closed a few years later. Mr Fu died of Lung Cancer. He never smoked and was most likely due to the second hand smoke he was exposed to. This restaurant was the first Shanghai restaurant in NY. Joes Shanghai credits this restaurant as being the first and inspiration for his restaurant.

              1. re: Fuchef

                Mr. Fu died of stomach cancer. I saw him in his last months. We lived in the same building and I knew him well. My father, Jimmy, was his partner, one of three, in Shanghai Cafe. I have a picture of the whole crew, and me in early 1950s.I think Mrs. Fu's Brother was a partner in Tien Tsin.
                The restaurant was sold to my brother-in-law and partners who ran it for another ten years after the first generation got tired.

                1. re: jayde24k

                  I'm his grandson. It's really nice to hear from people that knew my grandparents. Would love to see the picture with your dad and my grandfather.

                  1. re: Fuchef

                    Will send you when I have a chance to look for photo. How is Peter? I met him on his arrival in U.S. Copied my homework until he could manage in English!

                    1. re: jayde24k

                      My dad is very good. Retired and enjoying his 6 grandchildren. My email is