Crisp surface on the scallion pancakes, the centres are dense, chewy, rather than the articulate multilayer versions which I prefer. Could use a bit more scallion aroma.
Very good pan fried turnip cake, very crispy, hot; soft and doughy on the inside.
Homey versions of Sichuan cold appetizers, like the beef and tripe in spicy sauce, or pork with garlic sauce. Could always be more spicy, more robust notes from Sichuan peppercorns, but not a deal breaker. Delicious all the same.
Lake Tung Ting shrimp was an acceptable stir fry, the shrimps a shade overcooked, the vegetables alright, the sauce made from egg whites could be cooked a little less.
Chef's tea-smoked boneless duck was probably one of the best dishes of the evening. Very well prepared - smoked to just the right level, the meat blushing slightly. Served almost like Peking duck, with tian mian jiang/sweet fermented wheat sauce and wheat crepes. While it's not the absolute best of it's kind (those versions are essentially like duck prosciutto, smoked very slow and low) it very worthwhile and would definitely order it again. Makes the version at Sichuan Garden look disgraceful in comparison.
Interesting pairing of textures between fresh-tasting supple pieces of fish and tofu. Understated but delicious.
Lion's Head casserole, is a step up from Taiwan Cafe, probably on the level of Zoe's but not as good as the versions at Wing's. The meatballs are fine, and acceptably smooth in texture, in a stocky broth with mung bean noodles, mushrooms and napa cabbage.
Good deep frying on the tangerine beef, crackling batter, good tangerine peel flavour, tender beef.
A rather salty stir fry of water convolvulus/kang kong, could use more garlic.
Overall a very satisfying meal.
Sichuan xiaoguan (Shangri-la) is a good Taiwanese restaurant, although a bit inconsistent.
Their scallion pancakes seem to vary --- sometimes the crisp surface that Limster describes, sometimes too soft and oily.
Their turnip cake is the best I've ever tasted, and I believe the best dish on their menu.
I was not impressed by the Sichuan-style appetizers last time I was there (admittedly some time ago) finding them rather flavourless and underspiced. The Taiwanese style dishes on the menu were, in general, better.
I've had the tea smoked turn out very good sometimes and other times not at all. Similarly, I've had beef dishes there that were flavourful and fresh, and other times the quality of the meat was really terrible. I've also had vegetables there that were excellent, and at other times wilted and flavourless.
Their youtiao for weekend brunch are among the best the area.
Even service is inconsistent --- when they're not busy they are extremely nice, but I've also been there when they were busy and have been basically ignored.
I haven't been back in awhile, but I think it's time to make another visit, if nothing else for turnip cake! I guess I've been spoiled by MuLan in East Cambridge, which I think is a better Taiwanese restaurant.
I would say that the two very best dishes on MuLan's menu are these simple choices:
zhua1 bing3 Hundred Layers Pancakes
yan2 su1 ji1 Salted Crispy Chicken
These are also good appetizers:
cong1 you2 bing3 Scallion Pancake
wu3 xiang1 niu2 jian4 Spiced Beef
yan2 shui3 ya1 Steamed Salted Duck
The best main dishes that I remember are these two:
dou4 su1 xue3 yu2 Cod in Dry Bean Sauce
suan1 cai4 niu2 rou4 si1 Shredded Beef with Preserved Vegetables
And they have many excellent vegetable dishes, especially with xue3 cai4 (mustard green):
xue3 cai4 mao2 dou4 bai3 ye4 Soft Bean Curd with Green Mustard
cai4 fu3 dan4 Scrambled Egg with Pickled Daikon
shan1yao zhu2 sheng1 si1 gua1 Chinese Squash w/ Mountain Nagaimo & Bamboo
Sorry that I don't have time for a real review and just quoted some items I had from the menu and enjoyed. Another time I'll try to write a better post on MuLan!
I liked the rice noodles I had at Mulan a while ago; they definitely have a larger repertoire of dishes from the southern part of the Fujian province, which Taiwan is associated with. In that respect Shangri-La is probably a bit more limited, with more dishes from Sichuan, NE China, Hunan and Shanghai.
I forgot to mention the bean curd/tofu with thousand year old eggs at Shangri-La, which definitely shows a Taiwanese flair in the topping of pork floss.
Just to chime in, other dishes that really stand out at Shangri-La:
- Chicken ginger casserole, yum (with fresh basil)
- Twice cooked beef, better sometimes than others, but a real favorite.
- Tendon appetizer
- Egg drop soup (not at all the usual, served in a big bowl, amazing)
- Eggplant with pork, wow!
- The hot and sour is one of the better takes on the old standard that I have had in Boston.
I've never been, but a close friend says Mulan is not in the same league as Shangri-la. Will have to give Mulan a whirl.