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shanghai bun, matawan nj // gross ANY decent dumpling places in Central Jersey?

went for soup noodle dumplings -- these are OK not great. place is gross, really dirty and staff is nasty. doesnt bother me to eat on styrofoam, it is a small joint but it does bother me to see a unkempt restaurant // i can only imagine what the kitchen looks like! ugh. any soup noodle / dumplings places you'd chow @ in the central jersey area?

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  1. As I've said before on this board, I've crossed Shanghai Bun off my list. I didn't find it dirty, but the buns were just o.k., and I don't like eating off styrofoam and with plastic utensils. Plus, there was virtually no heat on a cold winter's afternoon, which meant I had to keep my jacket on.

    I recommend you try Shanghai Park, on Raritan Av., in Highland Park. Excellent buns! Service is pleasant and efficient. Not a hole-in-the-wall like Shanghai Bun, though not fancy. It's clean, with comfortable seating (including booths), and real plates and silverware.

    3 Replies
    1. re: RGR

      I had the soup buns at both Shanghai Bun and Shangai Park recently in the same week. I preferred the ones at Shanghai Bun, despite the dingy atmosphere and sort of cold reception from the woman behind the counter. The Shanghai Park soup buns were good, but the bamboo in which it was served was so worn that the bamboo/straw was breaking apart from the serving platter, sticking to the buns, and opening the buns such that the soup was escaping out before I could get the buns on my spoon. I'd gladly return to either for more, however.

      1. re: jsfein

        We haven't been to Shanghai Park in quite some time. We didn't have the problem you describe but, frankly, it's inexcusable. Certainly not something that should be glossed over. After all, if the soup is leaking out before you get a chance to get it on your spoon, it defeats the whole idea. You should have sent them back with a request that they be served on bamboo that did not break open the buns.

        1. re: RGR

          Shanghi Park is the better of the two in my opinion, but alas the owners have not invested in capital improvements over the years. That is to say, it is clean and neat but getting a little worn. It could be that they have invested their new funds in their Princeton place.

    2. ~2 years ago, i was surprised that no one was writing about this generic-looking chinese take out restaurant on chowhound, so i made a small post (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/187199).

      i tried to concentrate on writing only about the hand-make noodles, and, in particular, the best dishes they made with the hand-make noodles. 2 years later, i rarely find hand-make noodles in nj. delicious hand-make noodle meals are the reason to go to shanghai bun. in the ensuing 2 years, i can add that this is the most conistent restaurant for food preparation that i have ever eaten in, at least as far as the hand-make noodle dishes. it is a one-trick pony, but, a great trick.

      i didn't write about the soup dumplings because Shanghai Park in edison is the nj benchmark and had been extensively praised in newspapers and on chowhound. in fact, SP can hold its own against nyc's c-town soup dumpling makers. although anyone with enough training could probably make a shanghai soup dumpling, the only thing shanghai about shanghai bun is its name.

      for those new to shanghai bun, believe it or not, the place was remodeled about a year ago, the main improvemnent being better tables. the original brownish tiles on the floor are not too stylish, but, the tables are always clean when i am there (at non-peak times). the main decoration is still the giant thermos. at least from the view of the counter, the kitchen area looks ok.

      i agree the new worker, who literaly hides behind the counter on a low stool so it looks like no one is even there, is not friendly like the woman who seemed like mgr/owner. her behavior is no where near meal-wrecking surliness.

      probably not what they intended, but i like eating a hot soup in a chilly atmosphere. the new worker behind the counter was wearing her coat on thursday night to ward off the chill.

      for most people, this is not a restaurant for a special anniversary, mega job promotion, or 1st date, but, it is a restaurant that fully meets the chowhound standard that was given voice by Leff in the Chowhound Manifesto:

      "...Chowhounds blaze trails. They comb through neighborhoods for culinary treasure. They despise hype. And while they appreciate ambiance and service, they can't be fooled by flash...."

      there are as many little chinese takes out joints in nj as there are mcdonalds. find me one that makes better hand-make noodle soups and hand-make noodle dishes than shanghai bun.

      5 Replies
      1. re: piney

        piney, I agree about the hand-made noodles. That's why we go to Shanghai Bun. My mainstays are the noodle soup with pork and pickled radish, or the noodle soup with pork and sour cabbage. It's very comforting how each noodle is a slightly different shape.

        Also in Aberdeen, I like West Lake, which is about 1 mile south of Shanghai Bun, on RT 34. IMHO West Lake is the best choice for dim sum in northern Monmouth, although I'm sure you can get better in the Edison area. I like West Lakes's food enough to brave the chilly impatient manager and the brusque wait-staff.

        1. re: val ann c

          Val

          Is West Lake's Dim Sum cart service or order off a menu? Weekends only?

          Have you been to Dim Sum at Crown Palace in Marlboro? How does it compare to West Lake? I really enjoy Crown Palace's Dim Sum and go pretty regularly, but wouldn't mind giving West Lake a try.

          1. re: jsfein

            jsfein,
            I have never been to Crown Palace in Marlboro. I've been to Crown Palace in Middletown and Sunny in East Brunswick, a couple of visits for each. Neither one impresses me.
            West Lake has cart service and menu. I belieive it is weekends only, but you should call to be sure. Here is a link to some West Lake food photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wmliu/34...

            1. re: val ann c

              Made it to West Lake for dim sum yesterday. It was okay. My family was the only non-Asians during our visit which is usually a good sign. The dim sum is served by cart service only. There was a printed dim sum menu on the table, but you couldn't order off of it as far as I could tell. The food itself was pretty good, but many of the dishes were at room temperature and should have been served hotter. It was also impossible to get our water glasses refilled. Not a bad experience, but I prefer Crown Palace. I am interested in returning to West Lake to sample their regular menu. I saw a few dishes from the kitchen going to other tables that looked interesting.

              1. re: jsfein

                which CP do u visit? cant wait to get there.

      2. I agree that the handmade noodles are the reason to go to Shanghai Bun but I also struggle with the gross out factor of an unclean restaurant. I've sworn this place off several times only to go back when a noodle craving hits. I'm surprised that people like the soup dumplings. I find them pretty leaden compared to Shanghai Park and Grand Shanghai. Grand Shanghai (on Route 1 in the Edison area) is my overall favorite for soup dumplings, noodle soups (although not handmade) and weekend Shanghai style breakfast dishes.

          1. Thanks for linking those photos. Food looks great. West Lake is definitely moving up on my list of places to try.