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Shanghai Restaurant--Now in Berkeley!

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For fans of Oakland Chinatown's Shanghai Restaurant (and perhaps also fans of the San Mateo branch, which I've heard of on this board but never had occasion to visit): they just opened a new branch last week on Durant Street near the UC Berkeley Campus. It's on the North side of the street, between Telegraph and Bowditch. It's just west of the "Asian ghetto", upstairs from a Korean restaurant which is recessed from the street, and (along with Cafe Durant) above the Old Teahouse.

I just saw it today and haven't had a chance to eat there, but the menu is clearly the same and I confirmed with an employee that they're related.


Shanghai Restaurant
2517 Durant Ave #D
510 548 6959

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  1. Oh my God, that's walking distance from my house. Thank you for that major news!

    1. I'd be more excited if it hadn't seemed there's been significant quality slippage in Oakland since the opening of the San Mateo branch. Although maybe having the owner on this side of the bay more often will be good.

      1. Is it a coincidence then, that after having dinner in Oakland Chinatown last nite I passed by the Oakland branch - empty w/ the door & gates closed and an 8 1/2 x ll sign saying "Closed for renovation".

        So temporary or permanent closure with the opening of the Berkeley branch?

        3 Replies
        1. re: banana2ndgen

          Maybe it's wishful thinking on my part, since Oakland Chinatown is so much more convenient for me than Berkeley, but the Oakland branch could definitely stand renovation. Last time I was in there it was packed, so I don't think lack of business would make them consider closing it. Perhaps they took advantage of opening the Berkeley store to move the Oakland staff over so they could close without putting them out of work.

          1. re: banana2ndgen

            I tried the Berkeley branch today and they said the Berkeley branch was in addition to the Oakland one, not a replacement.

            I tried a chinese donut, a sweet rice ball soup, and the XLB; the first was standard (but good! I'm thrilled that I can get good chinese donuts near campus), and the second was tasty and unexpected. (I hadn't had it at the other branch)--soft rice balls with sweet ground black sesame paste in a sweet soup. The last was much better than the last XLB I had at the Oakland branch (which wasn't as good as I'd had a year before; I suppose this is the decline referred to elsewhere in this thread). In particular, the XLB was very juicy.



            1. re: David Farris

              Good to know.
              As mentioned below, the Oakland branch could use a bit of a 'spruce up' (pardon the pun); as do most of the places on the same block.

              Since it looks like the food in Berkeley may be back to earlier (Oakland) standards it may be a time to check it out (and stop at Cheeseboard, Acme, etc).

          2. What do you all recommend from here?

            1. We went today, and were treated downright warmly by a grandmotherly lady whom I didn't recognize from the Oakland branch. I asked her if the "giant meatballs with mixed vegetables" on the lunch menu was lion's head meatballs, but neither she nor the younger waitress could understand what I was asking until I turned my hands into claws and roared, to their great delight.

              The xiao long bao were superb, definitely much better than in January in Oakland. Lion's head was great too. Less compelling were the cold noodles with chicken, with a weak soy-sesame sauce only somewhat perked up with preserved vegetables; a saran-wrapped rice roll with some pork and a cruller inside, which was neither here nor there; and a seasonal green vegetable that was handwritten on the menu in Chinese. They were unable to translate it because, of course, they'd never seen it in an American store, but they brought us a sprig of it raw. It had long, thin stems and green leaves with flecks of red. The red color leached from it after it was cooked, like chard or beet greens. Not much flavor to it at all, in either state. It was like something I'd pull up from my lawn.

              The place was packed at lunchtime, mostly with Chinese students. It was a smart move for them to open up in this spot. I'll be a regular if the quality keeps up. And they're open until midnight on the weekends.

              1. thx for the heads up!

                1. Thanks for spotting this, David. I was in the East Bay and had a chance to try it. The street entry is junky but once you get upstairs, the restaurant is far nicer and larger than either of the other locations.

                  I had the xiao long bao, which were a little different than what I've been served in Oakland or San Mateo. These had the flavor of my last trip to Oakland with a fattier, more glycerined soup. However, the skins weren't quite as thick as they'd been in Oakland. The wrappers were thicker and not as neatly pleated as my recent lunch in San Mateo, as they were stiff enough that they didn't sag when the dumplings cooled off. Now, if they could get the pork filling and soup of this version in the xlb wrappers of the San Mateo branch, they'd be awesome. Still, very good.

                  I also had the "aromatic duck noodle soup" for $5.95. This was topped with slices of the cold, master sauce poached duck with some of the jellied aspic spooned over the top. The broth was a light chicken/pork stock. I didn't care for the noodles which were regular egg noodles and cooked very soft. I wouldn't order this dish again.

                  This is quite a boon for Southside.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    Can't wait to try their meatballs and won ton soup!

                  2. Anybody know the hours for this place?

                    1. I've tried calling to ask and the "grandmotherly woman" who answers the phone says "okay, thank you" and hangs up! We went on a Sunday afternoon and it was closed. Don't think I saw posted hours...

                      1. Tried this place out a few months back when it first changed hands and thought it was terrible. We ordered off the lunch menu and every dish was overly salted. Mongolian beef, seafood mix, seafood over crispy noodles. Didn't try the xiao long bao or any other dishes off their special ordering menu. They had dim sum to order there too, but didn't try it either. You'd probably wanna stick to something that's well known when ordering, otherwise it's not worth a visit.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Dunkin Donut

                          Since it's a Shanghainese restaurant, you'll probably do better ordering the Shanghainese dishes.

                          1. re: Dunkin Donut

                            I took everyone's advice and tried it on Saturday with three others. While the food was decent, my experience with the service was otherwise. Perhaps it was my bad luck.

                            I'm Shanghainese, but only speak basic Mandarin, but I can point pretty well (which I'll come back to). No one spoke English but could understand my Mandarin. We ordered the Shanghai prawns (which were good but not quite like I expected them to be), Eggplant which was also good, but I prefer them with a little ground pork, then we asked for duck and Flounder, both of which they were out of at 6 PM (that was a bad sign) so we tried their salt and pepper fish which was a little too salty but otherwise decent. Then we asked for the beef Jing Mein (which in Hong Kong restaurants is crispy noodles, Hong Kong style). They didn't understand it, We pointed to the menu item that said in English "Pan Fried beef and Crispy Noodles) and they nodded. They brought out a noodle soup that we decided to accept anyway and re-pointed at the menu item. They brought out another soup that had corned beef on top of noodles.

                            The table behind us had the same problem, they were all CHinese students and they sent back two dishes.

                            I'd try them again, but would leave if they are out of either food or service staff that can see the menu item when pointed at.

                            1. re: bluecheesewiz

                              The language problems and confused service were pretty amazing. Our server was sweet but I felt a bit like we were being waited on by a five-year-old.

                              On the other hand, the food was really good and cheap. (Could swear I posted about it but I can't find it.) But all else being equal, I'd go to the downtown Oakland branch.