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Apr 12, 2007 12:36 PM

Looking for good Shanghai restaurant in SF

Looking for a good place to take my family for good Shanghai food this Friday night(including xiaolongbao, pig trotters, scallion pancakes, smoked fish). I've read some of the old posts suggesting Shanghai Dumpling King for the XLB, but is it good for a group of 7-8ppl and other meatier main courses than just XLB?

Also, there were some posts for Da Shanghai from 2004 or so, is it still good, or is the place no longer worth going to?

We've already been to the Shanghai Xiao Chi place on Webster in Oakland when it first opened, and if I recall correctly, the food didn't impress us very much. The XLB were soupless and the skin rather thick, but then that was a couple years ago too.

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  1. Shanghai House across the street from the Balboa Theatre (I believe they are on 37th Ave?). Anyway, do a search and you can find a whole bunch of posts on this place. They are cleaner than Shanghai Dumpling King.

    2 Replies
    1. re: asianstamp

      Thanks, asianstamp. I looked and Shanghai House got some so-so chowhounds reviews of its XLB for thick-skin and lacking soup. I guess if we just head to Balboa, we can follow the crowds (hopefully there'll be some!) to Shanghai House or Shanghai Dumpling King.

      1. re: shellcomber

        Shanghai House might be hard to get into, thanks to a glowing review by Patty Unterman last week; it's also smaller than Shanghai Dumpling King.

    2. I liked Fountain Court on Clement Street although I haven't been there for a while.
      354 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94118

      2 Replies
      1. re: ron94303

        Fountain Court closed a few years ago.

      2. Da Shanghai (Judah St.) is long gone.

        Shanghai in Oakland has had good XLB almost every time I've been there (the one exception was a batch that was oversteamed. Of the three (including Shanghai Dumpling and Shanghai House) it's the one I'd have most confidence in for traditional Shanghai home-style dinner fare. I can't say I've given Shanghai House a fair test for dinner, but I like their xiao chi.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Gary Soup

          Thanks all! From your tips, I called made reservations for Shanghai House and ordered the Salt&Pepper Pig Trotter in advance. It is indeed tiny! It can barely fit 30 patrons! The seven of us had to pack it in using three of their 2person tables lined together. Because it's so small, service was exceedingly slow, our family usually takes a little more than an hour when we eat out, this time, we took close to 2 and a half hours b/c the dishes came out one at a time, every 10 minutes or so. But overall, we had a good experience tasting new dishes outside of our normal Cantonese fare.

          The pig trotter was really good, crispy on the outside and juicy and tender on the inside, very nicely seasoned, not too salty or bland. I could hear two other tables also raving about it. In addition to the pig trotter, the wintermelon fungus claypot, drunken chicken, tea smoked duck and cucumber with clear noodle wrappers were our favorites of the night. The wintermelon claypot was in a light sauce, the melons cooked to a nice tender melt in your mouth consistency, and the black fungus was flavorful and crisp. The drunken chicken (cold dish) would have been perfect except the sauce was a tad too salty. The chicken itself was fresh (I think made with free range chicken b/c the meat and skin were nicely chewy) and the wine was strong and aromatic. Tea smoked duck had very crispy skin but seemed a little too salty as well. The cucumbers with clear noodle wrappers (cold dish) was very refreshing, it tasted like the jelly fish cold dish served at banquets, same sesame and lightly sweet and salty and vinegar taste. The wrappers were so soft and smooth that it was hard to pick up with chopsticks and my little cousin simply slurped it up from her plate.

          Our least favorite were the two stir fry noodle dishes we ordered: Their chao nian gao (stir fry rice cakes) was not only an unusually small portion, but the saltiness of soy sauce seemed to be overpowering any other flavors. It also lacked the "wok" flavor that is so key in stir fry noodle dishes. The stir fry knife cut noodles also suffered from the same problem, but the knife cut noodles themselves definitely had a great firm but chewy texture that seems like it'd be great in soup.

          Also, from what I saw at the table next to us (we were in very close proximity to our neighbors, since the place is so small) their xiao long bao don't look like they'd be juicy or thin-skinned. The best ones I've had actually deflate when you open the steamer cover, and when you pick it up with chopsticks, you see the skin sink down under the weight of the juice.

          1. re: shellcomber

            Chao niangao needn't have soy sauce in it at all unless is the "paigu niangao" (yum!) version, then it's Katy, bar the door!

            I don't know what your xiaolong bao benchmark is, but the orthodox Shanghai style (done well by Shanghai House at lunch time) are smaller, more tightly packed and not as souped up as the Joe's Shanghai perversion of the dish.

            In Shanghai people never order xiaolong bao with dinner, unless it's an XLB specialty place like Din Tai Fung; it's time-consuming to make and best done in a continuing process (as it is at many places at lunch time). If you order it at dinner when the priority is the main dishes, its often given only a desultory effort.

            Nearly all decent Chinese restaurants (and home cooks) use chickens from Petaluma Poultry which only raises free-range chickens. It's the home of Rocky the Range Chicken, and was originally established to supply Chinese market demands, as the Chinese take their chickens very seriously.

            1. re: Gary Soup

              Wow, great info! If and when I go to Shanghai, I'll definitely get XLB for lunch! I never liked xiao long bao until I had them in NY and that's the standard I judge by. My favorite XLB are from Goody's in NYC and this little restaurant on Bayard. I just love having to poke a hole with your chopsticks to let the steam out and when you bite, the whole soup spoon fills with yummy juice. Yes, I guess I'm biased for the New York version until I get a chance to taste the authentic Shanghai ones.

              1. re: Gary Soup

                Shanghai Dumpling King (SDK). I went here the other day and their Niangao was riddled with soy sauce, and it was not the paigu version. Yes, that turned me off. I had ordered this dish in a Sunnyvale shanghainese place and there was no soy, the entire dish was "snow white", but this dish I had a SDK was dark brown. It tasted okay. The regular xiao lung bao and crab roe version was very good.

                Lions head was okay as well as the julian pork with potato strips. But honestly, the plates were definitey more oily than their other shop in Millbrae.

                The old guy also peddled and wanted to push a plate of sugared chinese donuts to each table, w/o much luck.

                Re XLB, I sorely missed this hold in the wall place in Shanghai, where they only served XLB. They sold thousands per day. People lined up and order a dozen or more at a time, ate them right outside of the shop, sat at a little stool and table, with a bowl of clear soup. They brought out the bao, in a huge steamer, but the one they were selling was not really XLB, because they also fried the botton. Maybe it was gan jian jiaoji.

                3319 Balboa Street
                (between 34th Ave & 35th Ave)
                San Francisco, CA 94121
                (415) 387-2088

                1. re: badbatzmaru

                  I wished I were more well-versed in Shanghai style of cooking so that I could contribute more to this conversation but unfortunately don't know enough. Nevertheless, I went to Shanghai House yesterday for lunch and really enjoyed the food and service. The waiter was very friendly, accomodating, and helpful in describing the dishes. Had the onion cakes which were okay, but not my favorites, a bit gummy. Also had some dumplings which were excellent, small round dumplings filled with pork and steamed, very light. Also had the Shanghai Style Fried Noodles which were excellent as well. From what I could gather, the food was obviously well-executed and the restaurant is very clean - will go back again and become more adventurous each visit.

                  1. re: badbatzmaru

                    Fried on the bottom AND served in a steamer? It sure doesn't ring a bell. It sounds like shengjian bao, though, which are shaped like XLB but fried on the bottom and garnished with chives and/or sesame seeds. They are both fried and steamed (like pot stickers) but usually in a huge (about 30" in diameter, I would guess) shallow pan with a wooden lid. They are my second favorite "xiao chi", the third being fried chou doufu.