Shan Dong (Oakland) Report
We went with friends to Shan Dong on Friday night. It was my first time.
I was very happy with some dishes and not that thrilled with a couple and didn't like one at all.
First, we all loved the place itself. It was cheery and packed with people. The mirrors across the back wall make it look like a gigantic place. Reminded me of several restaurants in Paris in the early 60's, particularly on the Champs Elysee. When one entered, one found oneself in a vast hall, with hundreds of people having lunch. Then one adjusted one's eyes and realized that the place was just a medium sized restaurant with mirrored walls. It seemed to be fad of some kind.
But I digress....
We were 1 vegetarian and 3 omnivores. We had no idea what to order except for the dumplings.
Mr. Veg. ordered mu shu veg, an eggplant dish, and veg dumplings. The eggplant dish was the star of the evening. I don't think there was a bit of eggplant or sauce on the platter after we finished wolfing.
My husband ordered a chicken dish (Shan Dong Chicken?). It was one of those crispy-deep-friend nuggets things with a very sweetly tangy sauce. It was delicious, but nothing world-shaking.
We also ordered pork and chive dumplings. This was the second time I'd had them (take out a few months ago) and I had the same opinion. I don't know what the shouting is about. My sister loves them (She's been there several times with large parties) and I've read raves here, I think. They have some kind of flavoring I don't like that much.
I also ordered an onion pancake which was a big disappointment. It was doughy, very tough, and pretty greasy. It seemed as if it'd been waiting around for some time. We left half of it. Usually the vinegary/sesame oily sauce makes up for what lacks in dishes...not this time.
But my favorite dish was an absolutely perfect and simple soup I ordered for myself. It was tofu and spinach in a broth. I added a dollop of chili oil. I had to wait for some time until the soup cooled down to eat it without burning my toungue. The broth was rich and tasty.
Although there were some duds, all in all we loved the place. The service was friendly and efficient and the bustle made it cozy. We'll go back.
Next time I'll look for suggestions from the earlier posts to this Board and call my sister. Dumb of me not to last Friday.
Best in show include the HUGE pork & veg buns, and the hand made noodles. Any of the noodles can be ordered with the hand made ones. I've ordered veg chow mein w/ the hand made noodles and it was quite nice, despite my preference for flesh.
The fish in black bean sauce is quite good. Nicely balanced, very fresh fish.
Won ton soup with hand made noodles is also very good. And the pork and veg buns are fantastic. They also have a noodle dish. . either the szechuan or shan dong noodles ordered with the optional hand made noodles is very nice.
Thanks for posting this report!
I agree with lexdevil, the pork and vegetable buns are amazing and cheap. You could have a lunch just from three of them, and it would cost only a tad more than a banh mi sandwich.
The Shan Dong Chicken is one of my standards, but I pair it with the Dry Braised String Beans, which are salty and garlicky, and get the Meat Sauce Noodles (much better than it sounds: thick noodles with a meaty and slightly oniony sauce). Some people spring for the handmade noodles (costs either $1 or $2 more); I do this when eating there, but they do not reheat quite as well.
The Lotus Chicken is like the Shan Dong Chicken, only less sweet and it comes with fresh (iceberg) lettuce to wrap it in. Fun, but I don't order it often.
Their hot'n'sour soup is also incredible if you like it spicy and vinegary.
The last time I was there someone ordered a soup with thin egg noodles, what looked like pork, and dark greens. It smelled wonderful. I tried to ask what it was, but was told it was on the Chinese-only wall menu. The server said if I just described it they would understand what it was.
re: Marc Wallace
Yes, the freshly made pork and vegetable bun is great, also if you see freshly made green onion pancakes they too are very worth the wait for a freshly pan fried pancake. But do not take them to go it not the same cold.
There a at least three types of dumplings and if I remember correctly the lamb dumpling are really good, so much the others.
It is still a great place for a quick meal.
Around the corner is the Shanghai which has a decent xlb to be eaten there or to go frozen.
one of my favorite items there is the pancake stuffed w/ leeks (one diner @ a neighboring table once asked "what is that taco thing?)... esp. when its hot and fresh.
My aunt once tried to dissect the dish -- we couldn't figure out how they cooked the stuffing. Definitely not by scrambling the other ingredients into the egg prior to cooking... yet it also didn't appear that they scrambled the egg by itself and then mixing everything together. Maybe a rough chop after all the ingredients were cooked?? Anybody have some insight, since I'd like to try re-creating this at home.