Oakland's Shanghai Restaurant
Has anyone eaten from the dinner menu at Oakland's Shanghai Rest? Any recs?
Except for a few lunch specials, Shanghai doesn't have separate menus for lunch and dinner. If you do a control-F search through the last few months you'll find lots of discussion on meals people have had there.
Be aware that Shanghai has an advanced case of multiple menu syndrome, so if at first you don't see what you're looking for, be persistent.
My only recommedation is to ask the staff if there is something you like and see if they have it available. I fear the posted items in Chinese change a lot so you may not have what we had that night but you can ask.
The Loin Head clay pot is a winner and we liked the glass shrimp.
But ask and you may be surpised and happy.
I've been there for dinner twice in the last weeek and was very pleased. However most of our ordering came from the cold dish arena (the glassed-in counter): five-spice duck, "smoked" fish, etc.
We also asked for a green veg recommendation, got pea vines one night, spinach another -- both in garlic sauce, both superb, but strictly speaking not "on the menu." They also have "A" vegetable, but it's on the wall menu.
Also the special Shanghai rice cake (we ordered it with no meat) -- superb but again not on the *dinner* menu -- it's on the "Shanghai noodle" menu. We also got the sesame rice dumpling for dessert-- but that's on the "Dim Sum" menu.
We ordered a clay pot off the dinner menu -- "double tofu skin & mung bean noodles clay pot." It was superb, but the two kinds of bean curd skin were stuffed with a succulent ground pork mixture -- to the dismay of the one of us who won't eat pork.
The "Lion's head" that Yimster mentioned is on the dinner menu (in one of its incarnations) as "Braised Pork Meatball with Tender Green."
We had the "Chicken and Chestnut Clay Pot" and it was very flavorful -- but it's not on the dinner menu either, it's on the "Three for $15 with Steam Rice" menu.
Corkage is free, but bring your own glasses.
It's worth pointing out, I suppose, that Shanghai Restaurant's name in Chinese is Shanghai Xiao Chi, (Shanghai "small eats") which implies that they do not pretend to be a dinner destination in the sense of formal dining. They do in fact, go beyond "xiao chi" to what would be called "xiao cai", (roughly "small plates") on their menus. The offerings are quite similar to everyday home-style dinner cooking in Shanghai (or even abroad, for intransigents like my wife), not splurge or celebratory items. It's really not much different from a small Cantonese restaurant without a banquet menu.
I'm dying to get there for dinner for two reasons. First, I typically have the appetite to try more dishes at dinner time, and secondly (and most importantly) I want to try their "stinky" tofu, which they withhold from cooking until after 6:00 PM out of a sense of civic responsibility.
The xlb are on the half-sheet dim sum/noodle menu, translated into English as something like Shanghai steamed dumplings.
As I said, sometimes finding a dish on a menu is hard at Shanghai -- you need to check:
the half-sheet "dim sum" menu
the plastic-covered "main" menu
the "three dishes plus rice for $15 menu"
the whiteboard with the cold dishes in the back (some but not all of which are on other menus)
the specials written in Chinese hanging on the walls (in one post yimster noted there were about 50 items on the walls!)
Fortunately, all but the last are translated into English, although the English translations are usually literal and may not correspond to the colloquial names you might be familiar with.