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Oct 9, 2006 01:00 AM

Shanghai Restaurant (Oakland) very much alive and kicking

Buried in a thread below, a poster asserted, without subsequent challenge, that Shanghai Restaurant in Oakland had closed permanently since the branch in Berkeley opened. Unwilling to believe this, I headed over there for lunch today.

Shanghai Restaurant (Shanghai Xiao Chi, 930 Webster St. in Oakland Chinatown) is definitely open, with the same front of the house staff and, as far as I know, same people in the kitchen. The short woman with the glasses expressed astonishment and dismay when I told her there was a rumor of it closing.

I ordered one of my standard Shanghai lunch permutations, xiaolong bao, salty soy milk soup and shengjian bao (the first time I've tried the latter at SXC-Oak).

The xiaolong bao today at Shanghai Xiao Chi was as good as I've had there, meaning vey good. The size, delicacy of the wrapper, texture of the filling and quantity and savoriness of the "soup" were about as good as you could reasonably expect this side of Shanghai and I found myself wishing I had ordered two longs instead on just one.

The xian doujiang was about as I remembered from before, perhaps a bit better. It had no brine shrimp in it, but had the obligatory bits of you tiao, and the soy milk was well curdled from the pickled vegetables. It required only a little kiss from the chili pot to be a very satisfying version.

The shengjian bao weren't as good as I expected, but then I didn't expect they would be (forgive me the "Irish Bull" here!) They were pretty things, nicly browned on the bottoms and studded with chives and enough sesame seeds to blanket a House of Bagels bagel, but overly large and, especially disappointing, lacking in chin-drizzling juiciness. Someday I'll learn not to order these things in the US, because there seems to be a fear of using the politically incorrect largesse of pork fat that makes them so satisfying on the streets of Shanghai. (It's small consolation that some of the sit-down restaurants in Shanghai also seem to suffer from the same timidity).

xian doujiang:

shengjian bao:

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  1. The post said the Oakland branch was closed for renovation, not that it had gone out of business.

    1 Reply
    1. I recently had both xian doujiang and shengjian bao in and around Shanghai. They were wonderfully flavorful. The xian doujiang was a revelation in how tasty soy milk with additions can be. The shengjian bao I had from a street vendor were full of juice. Sitting on the corner of a sidewalk munching on these got messy!

      Where can I find these in San Francisco?

      1 Reply
      1. re: elise h

        I doubt you will find street-quality shengjian bao anywhere in the US, though I have higher hopes for xian doujiang. Shanghai Dumpling King on Balboa had a decent, though not earth-shattering version the last time I was there. Old Shanghai on Geary has a good version but if you want the obligatory bits of youtiao in it you have to but a whole youtiao.

      2. Thanks for verifying that it's still open, Gary. You've given me a field trip for tomorrow.


        1. I stopped by at "Shanghai Restaurant" in Daly City (the mall on Skyline Plaza). I already had lunch, but inquired about xian doujiang and shengjian bao. The pleasant hostess showed me the menu and highlighted "Pan fried baby buns" - 8 for $4.95 and "savory soy bean milk" for $1.25.

          The soy bean milk is served weekends from 9am until 3pm. The shengjian bao and all dim sum are served all day.

          Has anyone tried these?

          Shanghai Restaurant also serves stir fried rice cake with pork and veggies.

          1 Reply
          1. re: elise h

            It's been a long time since I tried Shanghai in Daly City, and can only say, there's no need to order the lamb hot pot or xiao long bao. Hope you have better luck with your quest.

            You might want to try the places on the Peninsula or South Bay the next time you're down there. The quality for Shanghai eats is better generally than in the City.