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Nov 19, 2007 07:01 AM

Shanghai Gate

After a somewhat annoying week, BarmyFotheringayPhipps and I decided to treat ourselves to dinner out on Friday night. There's a new Turkish restaurant coming into the space in Packard's Corner that used to be Beckett's Pub, on Commonwealth next to Cookin' Cafe, but they weren't quite open for business yet (pretty space, though - tablecloths and all!) Sorry - I keep trying to make a note of the name and it keeps slipping my mind. It looks like they'r right on the verge of opening, so we'll keep our eyes peeled.

Failing that, we continued up Commonwealth to Harvard and had another wonderful dinner at Shanghai Gate instead. We "started" with the seaweed fish and an order of pork dumplings ("started" in quotation marks because while we did indeed get the fish as a first course, once again the dumplings arrived last of everything. I don't mind at all, but they should consider moving them from the "Appetizers - Hot" section of the menu to noodle entrees or something!) The seaweed fish was really really good - the seaweed in the batter gives a surprisingly fresh, vegetal flavor. I like the fact that their fried items are served in doily-lined baskets, to help soak up any lingering oil.

For entrees we ordered rice cake with ground pork and leeks (BFP thought the rice cake was sliced a bit too thin - he likes the chewiness - but I thought it was fine, and the preparation was terrific); a couple of the lion's head meatballs, and the paradise mountain chicken, which I had thought would be scary-hot but was not so bad. It helped that the chicken was cut in fairly large chunks - the generous portions of dried chile pepper and raw garlic in the topping were offset by the meat itself. The dumplings came last, as noted - they were delicious, but for some reason I was having a case of fumble-finger that caused me to drop my first one into the vinegar and completely break it open - boo hoo! - and darn near rupture my second as well. I'm putting it down to that stress-filled week.

Once again I'm impressed by the excellent food, as well as by the spare but striking decor, the warmth and friendliness of the staff, and the amazing prices - we slightly over-ordered, and still got away for less than $40 (plus tip.) I feel truly lucky to have such an outstanding Chinese restaurant in my neighboorhood (especially since I've been there long enough to remember when that space was a Brigham's!)

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  1. They do always serve the dumplings late but the food has a wonderful attention to detail and can often have genuinely delicate tastes.

    I love their ma pa tofu with slivered fish.

    2 Replies
    1. re: lergnom

      And to their credit, at least this time the server did mention that the dumplings were going to take a long time. I think as long as people know that, it's no real problem. But I concur about the switch in the menu to entrees, so as not to disappoint those who think they'll be starting with dumplings.

      Ma po tofu is one of my favorite foodstuffs of all time, but we tend to only order it at Sichuan restaurants. I may demand a Shanghai Gate exemption next time we go. We've never gotten anything less than tasty there, so I'm sure it's a good iteration of the dish.

      1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

        The dumplings take about 15 minutes, so should take longer at any restaurant if they're cooked to order. I'm always suspicious if they come out too quick, because it means they may or may not have been sitting for a while (and it makes a big difference).

    2. The Turkish place was open for business on Saturday night.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Luther

        I thought they might well be - they looked that close on Friday - but on Saturday night we were halfway up the VT/NH border, so dinner there wasn't convenient. Did you stop in?

        1. re: Allstonian

          I didn't stop in, I was just driving by. I think I spotted a fancily-dressed waiter.

      2. The only advantage to having the dumplings come late is we're always full by the time they arrive so several of them wind up going home for a leftover treat the next day!

        1. A man can only eat so much - tomorrow I'm definitely trying the lions heads, but do I accompany it with Shanghai-style soup, or dumplings? If the latter, what kind? I'm not seeing beggar's chicken or crispy chicken on the menu - do they offer those?

          1 Reply
          1. re: twitchology

            Good timing, they were closed on vacation through the 5th.

            If you mean the Shanghai soup, not soup dumplings vs regular dumplings, (and in fact Shanghai Soup and Lion's head is one of my more common takeout orders) , I'm very fond of it, but it comes in a portion for two so don't order it if you're in your own and it's also been a bit uneven the past few months IMO when I've ordered it. Mind you that hasn't stopped me from getting it..

            There isn't a crispy chicken per se on the menu, but Paradise Mountain Chicken seems to be tossed in a light, slightly spicy coating (vs a full batter) before it is fried, giving it a kind of thin crust onto the outside.

            I've only had the pork dumplings so I'll leave it to someone else to tell you more about which ones.