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Feb 2, 2005 12:34 AM

best Shanghai cuisine restaurant in the entire SF Bay Area

  • d

I'm looking for the best and most authentic Shanghai restaurant in the entire SF Bay Area, including SF, South Bay and East Bay. Would like to try out the traditional Shanghai dishes like braised eel, lions head, shanghai stir fried noodles, shanghai stir fried nian gao, etc. Thanks in advance.

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  1. can't speak for the rest of the bay area but my vote is for Shanghai Dumpling House on Balboa.

    1. I was a big Shanghai Dumpling Shop fan until I was persuaded (by many Chowhound posts) to cross the bridge to Oakland chinatown wherein lies Shanghai Restaurant (Shanghai Xiao Chi) on Webster St. which became my new favorite.

      Both places have excellent niangao. The version at SDS with mustard greens (instead of mushy napa cabbage)is a real winner, and I think the degree of done-ness of the niangao was just right IMHO, though some people prefer it a little more al dente. SXC, however, has four different versions of niangao, including paigu (read "pork chop") niangao beloved of carnivores like me. Both places use the big Shanghai noodles for chow mein, but SDS' were cooked too soft for my taste. The lion's head meatballs were okay but not spectacular at SDS; I haven't tried them at SXC.

      I haven't tried eel at either place (not sure if they both have it) because I've all but given up on finding a good eel dish in the US. I think true Shanghai river eel is only imported frozen, and then it's only the filleted underbelly strips. I happen to like the eel back pieces stir-fried almost to a crisp, like some places in Shanghai do it.

      I doubt if anything in the Bay Area can top Shanghai Xiao Chi for an authentic Shanghai hole-in-the wall "feel," from the size and layout to the pace and the energetic music of crispy Shanghainese dialect spoken by all the staff and most of the customers.

      Great xiaolongbao, too!


      1. Thanks for the responses! I'll have to try out Shanghai Dumpling Shop and Shanghai Xiao Chi. Regarding braised eel, I've actually had a pretty good dish at Hong Fu in Cupertino. Their XLB is good IMHO too. Joy Restaurant in Foster City has quite a lot of Shanghai dishes too, including stir fried nian gao. Has anyone tried it there?

        How about Ding Shen in the ABC plaza in Milpitas? I haven't tried it but have always been curious. Has anyone eaten there yet?

        4 Replies
        1. re: Dave H

          The original Shanghai Ding Sheng didn't do too well and there was a name change to just Ding Sheng. Not sure if the menu/owner changed or not since I have not been back there.

          But the best Shanghai in south bay is China First in Milpitas near Dixon Landing and Milpitas Blvd. Excellent XLB, Lions Head, Cai Fan, and even Dong Po Pork.



          1. re: tanspace

            Thanks for the recommendation! Will check out China First. Your website is great, by the way. Lotsa good info. =)

            1. re: tanspace

              Are the Shanghai specialties at China First still on a separate, Chinese-only menu you have to ask for? Because when I was there, if you didn't know, you'd think it was just another restaurant.

              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                IIRC, it is still the same Chinese menu. I did not look at the regular menu to see if they've added the Shanghai items or not, but I doubt it.


          2. It's been a long time, and updates are due, but my favourite was Su Hong in Palo Alto.

            1. I'm bumping this up w/ my review of <B>Shanghai House</b> in the Outer Richmond area (across the street from Balboa Theatre).

              Shanghai House just opened this past Thursday. It replaced the awful Ming Gu Hawaiian restaurant. Went here for an early lunch this weekend. At first, I was a little leery because we were the only ones in the restaurant. A lot of people would walk by and look but they won't come in. Bad sign right?

              Anyhoo, we ordered the following:
              Shao Lung Bao (little pork dumplings) - 10 pieces
              Green Onion Pancake - 8 pieces
              Shanghai Thick Noodle
              Shanghai nian gao (a nice gummy oval pasta--Taiwan Restaurant makes this!)
              Pork Noodle Soup
              Chicken Handcut Noodle

              OMG! The food was delicious! I loved everything we ordered. The dumplings were very good w/o being greasy (unlike the Shanghai Dumpling King up the block). I especially liked the Shanghai chow fun and the hand cut noodle. The handcut noodle is actually shaved noodle. They take a block of pasta and they shaved it w/ a cheese cutter. I've never seen anything like this in the City.

              Most dishes were about $5-$6 tops. If you're on a budget, I suggest you get the noodle soup. It came in a BIG bowl and could be shared by 2-3 people.

              The onion pancake was good. On par w/ Taiwan Restaurant's in Clement.

              Warning: If you are in a rush, don't come here because the food came slowly (we suspect it's cuz everything is fresh). Our lunch took about an 1 hour to finish. Hopefully they will improve the service --they are new.

              This place beats the horrible, dirty Shanghai Dumpling King (I don't get the hype) up the block. They serve authentic Shanghainese food.

              2 Replies
              1. re: asianstamp

                Thank you. For those interested, here's the address -

                Shanghai House
                3641 Balboa Street
                San Francisco, CA 94121

                1. re: asianstamp

                  Nian gao / nien gau is known in English as rice cake or, more literally, new year's cake. It's good luck to eat it on new year's.