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Best Shanghai-Style Chinese for Ex-Shanghai Resident?

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I'm looking for a good Shanghai-style Chinese restaurant (probably in the San Gabriel Valley) for someone who's originally from Shanghai but now lives in New York City. I'd like to impress the person with the quality of Shanghai-style food here in the Los Angeles area.

Something not too casual or hole-in-the-wall would be best.

I've been the Din Tai Fung in Arcadia and Green Village Shanghai Restaurant in San Gabriel. There was a "Los Angeles Times" article in June, 2007 that lists some other places, so which would make the best impression? The list from the article is a little overwhelming:

Chang's Garden, Arcadia
Giang Nan, Monterey Park
Green Village Shanghai Restaurant, San Gabriel
Ho Ho Kitchen, El Monte (article describes it as a "hole-in-the-wall")
King's Palace, Rowland Heights
Shanghai Bamboo House, Temple City
Shanghai Restaurant, San Gabriel (Focus Plaza)
Supreme Dragon, Rowland Heights
Southern Mini Town, San Gabriel
Wang Gia, San Gabriel
J&J Restaurant ("Jin Jian"), San Gabriel
Mandarin Chateau, Los Angeles (Chinatown)
Mei Long Village, San Gabriel
Wok and Noodle, Alhambra

I'd like to pick a place that would leave the person thinking, "Hey, I'm surprised you can get Shanghai-style food this good in the United States!" Being in a shopping mall, or close to one, is a plus because I'd like to show the person there's a large Asian presence here in Los Angeles.

Chowhound favorites seem to be J&J and Mei Long Village. Are they "chow-ish" in that they are good food, but a so-so setting?

If you only have one chance to impress an ex-Shanghai resident with Shanghai-style food here in Los Angeles, which one would it be?

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  1. My vote would be Green Village. It's got the best combination of food and ambiance. Our Shanghainese friend also says that J&J has good, authentic food.

    I tried to understand what the CH fascination is with Mei Long Village, but I just don't get it. The food is just ordinary, and the decor is grandma shabby 70's era. It's not going to impress the Shanghai sophisticate.

    2 Replies
    1. re: WBGuy

      Thanks for the reply, WBGuy. The one time I did go to Green Village I found the food to be really rich and myself and a few others thought the food wasn't as good as we were expecting it to be. I think we seemed to like Din Tai Fung a little bit more. I ordered a few things that were recommended in an "LA Weekly" review of the place (from March, 2002), but maybe there are I'm not sure if I got the right thing and I might give it another chance.

      I think we might try Din Tai Fung and another place... maybe Green Village again.

      Thanks again for your reply.

      1. re: ctk6446

        DTF is not authentic Shanghai food since it's a chain based from Taiwan. I agree with WBGuy. J&J (Jin Jiang) is much more authentic. The waitresses as frequently speaking to each other in Shanghainese.

      1. I would vote for Green Village too, since it has a nicer ambiance and a very large menu. Mei Long Village is a very spare setting. Mandarin Chateau is ok if you're stuck downtown, but I don't think they have a very large selection of real Shanghai dishes.

        1. Chang's Garden would be my choice for a solid, overall Shanghai experience. The room is nice (not great), food is generally very good, but there are no standouts per se.

          I would suggest Mei Long Village for the nian gao, lion's head, and maybe the xiao long bao.

          I'm probably in the minority here, but I continue to stand behind Ho Ho Kitchen as having the best xiao long bao in SGV (and probably greater LA). Yes, the setting is sparse (the menus serve as wall decorations), but then the food is downright cheap, ahem, I mean economical.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ipsedixit

            Just got back from MLV and had the XLB, crab meat XLB, lion's head, nian gao, and loofa with crab, smoked fish appetizer, and another appetizer of molded pork and gelatin.

            Once again, I can't agree with reports that the XLB at MLV are better than Din Tai Fung. It's got a much larger wad of pork in the middle but part of the reason why I prefer DTF XLB is that the wrapper is allowed to shine and that individual flavors are allowed to shine through. This is certainly not the case with the XLB at MLV and especially not when half of the dumplings were leaky. The crab XLB at MLV is probably better because the crab XLB at DTF just downright sucks. I want to say more but I'll stop here and try to avoid another monthy DTF vs MLV smackdown.

            Also, the nian gao at MLV was clearly sub par (no hyperbole). It wasn't chewy and lacked the depth of flavor/smokiness that you find with better versions. Lion's head was decent if a little on the sweet side. The loofa with crab was very good.

          2. Of all the ones you listed, I've been to:

            Giang Nan, Monterey Park
            Green Village Shanghai Restaurant, San Gabriel
            Shanghai Restaurant, San Gabriel (Focus Plaza)
            J&J Restaurant ("Jin Jian"), San Gabriel
            Mandarin Chateau, Los Angeles (Chinatown)
            Mei Long Village, San Gabriel

            If you're looking for both setting and great food, Green Village is definitely the best option for you.

            See blog entry and pics below:
            http://pleasurepalate.blogspot.com/20...
            http://www.flickr.com/photos/la_addic...

            To see info about some of the other places I visited, check out the links below:

            Mei Long Village
            http://pleasurepalate.blogspot.com/20...
            http://www.flickr.com/photos/la_addic...

            J&J
            http://pleasurepalate.blogspot.com/20...
            http://www.flickr.com/photos/la_addic...