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Jun 12, 2008 11:27 AM

Sunny Shanghai

A group of hounds attended a lunch at Sunny Shanghai in San Bruno...a true find! The chef made several special dishes pre-ordered for us (beggars chicken wrapped in Lotus Leaf), but most were from the regular menu and truly exceptional. Some were challenging (the flower kidneys and the fish head soup...also take a look at the dessert, or is the dessert looking at you?)

I will post photos and a link, the others will list the names of the dishes.

My favorite was the chicken, but the shanghai rice and the rice cakes were perfectly cooked. The rice had a burnt bottom which I love...


Sunny Shanghai
189 El Camino Real, San Bruno, CA 94066

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  1. Thanks for the report. How was the chou doufu?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Xiao Yang

      The Stinky Tofu was just fine. Crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The smell was strong but not over powering. Like it was before. Not a big hit with the whole group but everyone tried them. I and vliang (I think) had the one of the two extras

    2. I joined Marlon and the others for dinner. My favorites were the beggars chicken, the duck, the soup broth (but not the fish), the xiao long bao and the dessert soup. The meal was a delight, and there were very few misses for me.

      The beggars chicken was lovely, perfectly seasoned and still moist. I really liked the hidden nest of mushrooms tucked into the bird's cavity. Next time I'm fighting Marlon to determine who gets to chew on the bones.

      The duck was in the same excellent sauce. I'm glad that vliang ordered only two dishes in the sweet, brown sauce, so that we could appreciate it without feeling oppressed by it.

      I loved the rich soup broth, but not the fish in it, which was a bit swampy-tasting for me.

      Xiao long bao are excellent, with smooth, thin skins, though (as in earlier threads) it was pointed out that the broth would be richer if it were porkier and less chickeny.

      For dessert, we had a sweetened rice wine soup with little mochi balls stuffed with a bit of peanut. One diner (an eye surgeon) pointed out that he felt like he was at work, and the balls did resemble eyes. I've had mochi before, but never in a soup. I liked this a lot.

      What I didn't care for as much: the shrimp tasted exactly like shrimp I've had in Shanghai at Xiao Nan Guo. Nice crunchy texture, but equally bland to my palate. The rice cakes were not moist enough for me--some slices stuck to each other and were entirely uncoated, which made for a pretty bland bite.

      Overall, a great dinner!

      1 Reply
      1. re: pane

        Will Pane believe it our not the shrimp should have been bland. I was told that this dish is to show off the taste of the shrimp without anything else.

        As for the rice cake, it was a little too dry. But it is better too dry than too wet. Normally when I have to cook this dish I have sauce/gravy in another pot and keep adding until the mixture is just right IMHO then serve. I am sure that the chef did not have time enough.

        I will share my two cent after some of the other have posted.

      2. Here are the dishes in order

        1. This is a picture of our dessert. Filled Mochi Dumpling in a Sweeten Sweet Rice Wine Soup.

        2. The mochi dumplings, each of us get three little dumplings.

        3. Crystal Shrimp.

        4. Stir Fried Cut Rice Cake.

        5. The leftover Fish Bone

        6. Braised Fish Tail

        7. Sticky Tofu

        8. Green Onion Pancake

        9. Sunny Shanghai’s Mock Goose

        10. Cucumber Salad

        11. Shanghai Ham Fried Rice

        12. Kai Fui

        13. Stir Fried “A” Choy in Garlic

        14. Mashed Cabbage with Pork and Shitake Mushroom.

        15. XLB’s

        16. Flowering Pig Kidneys

        17. Shanghai Braised Pork Shank

        18. Wu Lai Duck (per-order required)

        19. Beggar’s Chicken (per-order required)

        20. Fish Head Soup (pre-order)

        10 Replies
        1. re: yimster

          Shanghainese would call the dessert in 1 &2 jiu niang tang yuan. It's the same kind of tang yuan associated with the New Year (or the Winter Solstice in some parts of China, but served in a fermented sweet rice broth (jiu niang).

          I wouldn't call #9 mock goose, which is usually made of tofu "skin." It's a common dish usually referred to as doufu gan.

          I've never heard of Wu Lai duck. It sounds Taiwanese. Is there a Taiwanese connedtion to the restaurant?

          1. re: Xiao Yang

            Mock Goose probably would translate to Su Er in Mandarin, meaning vegetarian goose. Usually has slivers of mushrooms inbetween the layers of tofu skin.

            Wu Lai is the name of an aborigine village in Taipei county, famous for hot spring spa hotels, native cuisine from mountain vegetables to gamey wild boar.

            1. re: K K

              I know what mock goose/duck is, having eaten dozens of versions here and in Shanghai. My point was that I've never seen that label attached to the dish in the picture.

              The question with the (real) duck is, why is it called Wu Lai duck?

              1. re: Xiao Yang

                I can not answer your questions. I only ordered the duck, vlaing order the tofu dish. The names were a created by Sunny Shanghai. Why I am called yimster and you Xiao Yang. We made up these handles. So maybe you can call them and ask them.

                But I have had the duck at Shanghai in Oakland under another name. Marinated Duck Hindquarters is the name at Shanghai.

                1. re: Xiao Yang

                  It was not actually mock goose. what was pictured was dou gan si. We were going to order the mock goose, but already had too much food. I think somehow mock goose got written down on the list of dish we had, but in actuality, I had ordered something else.

                  Also, I do not think the owners are from Taiwan. They have a very "Mainland" accent. But I am not sure about why the duck is called that either.

            2. re: yimster

              Overall this was a great meal. Here are my comments on each of the dishes, in the order that they are pictured and listed above by Yimster. Not that this is not the order the dishes were served in (which may be obvious, since dessert is first).

              1. Filled Mochi Dumpling in a Sweeten Sweet Rice Wine Soup. I hadn't had this dessert before, and I enjoyed it as well, especially after our waitress added some ground up flower as seasoning (reminded me of jamaica/hibiscus?). I liked the mochi more than the soup, but this was a refreshing end to the meal.

              2) Mochi. They had a filling that tasted like a mix of red bean and peanut. Delicious.

              3. Crystal Shrimp. I did not think this dish was particularly good, because to me the shrimp did not taste very fresh - I think they may have been frozen. It was properly prepared, but this preparation is less desirable if the shrimp aren't fresh tasting. Still, not bad.

              4. Stir Fried Cut Rice Cake. I agree with pane that these were a bit too try and overall not that flavorful. So I thought these were only OK

              5. The leftover Fish Bone. This fish dish was very good, the sauce was sweet and almost reminded me of Thai preparations I've had (though these Thai preparations may have original roots in Shanghai cuisine, so it comes full circle)

              6. Braised Fish Tail. See above.

              7. Sticky Tofu. I am not a fan of stinky tofu....I think I had only had it once before, several years ago, so I tried it again last night. I ate the entire piece, and I *almost* like it.....but not quite. Seemed good for those who like this dish.

              8. Green Onion Pancake. These were excellent, we ordered them when we saw them going to another table. Made to order, very fresh - about as good as scallion pancakes can get.

              9. Sunny Shanghai’s Mock Goose - This was not the dish I was expecting, but instead just shredded tofu marinaded in a simple sesame/soy mixture with quite a bit of cilantro. Nothing special, possibly a bit too much cilantro for me.

              10. Cucumber Salad - Nice amount of garlic and sesame here - so garlicky that they reminded me of half-sour pickles.

              11. Shanghai Ham Fried Rice - This tasted a bit too smoky for me, possibly because of the burned/crispy bottom. I had the same dish at Shanghai Dumpling Shop in Millbrae and liked it better there.

              12. Kai Fui - I thought this dish, which consisted of gluten puffs and peanuts, was quite tasty. Served cold, the gluten puffs had soaked in a lot of the sauce and I continued eating these throughout the entire meal.

              13. Stir Fried “A” Choy in Garlic - This was good.

              14. Mashed Cabbage with Pork and Shitake Mushroom. I really liked this dish - some at the table said it reminded them of something they'd make at home, and I can see why - it's very comforting. Sort of like cabbage congee.

              15. XLB’s - These were very good, perhaps better than my first visit to Sunny Shanghai, and on par w/ Shanghai House on Balboa in SF (my current favorite). So I was impressed.

              16. Flowering Pig Kidneys - I haven't eaten much kidney before, but I thought these were quite good. I can't recall the specific flavors, but it was a nice start to the meal.

              17. Shanghai Braised Pork Shank - This was very good, the brown sauce was good, and the pork (both fatty and non-fatty pieces) was very tender.

              18. Wu Lai Duck (per-order required) - This was my favorite of the night - really excellent roast duck w/ the same brown sauce as the pork - sauce had a perfect balance of sugar level for me. I was lucky and ended up with the leftover duck at the end of the meal, which I boned and added to my salad today at lunch. YUM.

              19. Beggar’s Chicken (per-order required) - This was also really excellent. The flavor from the lotus leaves permeated through the entire chicken - meat was tender and moist. Really great.

              20. Fish Head Soup (pre-order) - This soup was massive, and I liked the rich broth. Like pane, I thought the fish itself was a bit too swampy tasting. I enjoyed the pieces of tofu, mushroom and sheets of mung bean noodle (is that what it was?)

              Company was excellent as usual, and thanks to Yimster for bringing the excellent tea (green tea w/ rose?). Very nice meal, and very good value - we each paid less than 25 dollars (including the tip) for a feast too big to finish.

              Dave MP

              1. re: Dave MP

                I like the kai fui and the A choy. But, stay away from the shanghai cold noodles.

                The Wu Lai Duck looks really good. How much is it?

                1. re: maoliu

                  Cold noodles? I didn't see ant mention of that.

                  1. re: Xiao Yang

                    sorry for the confusion. i was not part of the chowdown. I went a couple weekends ago for lunch and had the boring cold noodles.

              2. I especially loved the fish head soup (of which I had 3, maybe 4 bowls - the wide mung bean noodles soaked up the broth beautifully) and the duck.

                The flavors of many of the dishes were deeply homey and brought back memories of meals at my grandmother's house in Taiwan - I think the classic red sauce on the duck and the mashed cabbage dish resonated the most deeply with me.

                Of the dishes that I can compare directly with their counterparts at Shanghai restaurant in Oakland, only the rice cakes came short - as others have pointed out, they weren't fully separated and sauced, and some of them were excessively peppery. The XLB were much better than the last few I've had at Shanghai Restaurant (although not as good as the very best ones I had there a few years ago, when the skins were so thin they were practically pasta). The braised pork shank was much better at Sunny Shanghai - it can be a little dry at Shanghai Restaurant, and Sunny Shanghai's sauce is much more balanced (I find Shanghai Restaurant's too sweet).

                1. Here are favorites dishes from this dinner.

                  The cold Kidney dish, they were cooked perfectly. On the border of being under cooked. I am glad after a short discuss to have them served mild. Something a hot sauce will cover the actual taste of the dish.

                  The soup had the just right amount of the mung bean sheets, fish meat/bones and mixed vegetables. I had at least two bowls, there was a lot.

                  The duck was also a favorite with me.

                  This time the Shanghai Ham Fried Rice has a brunt bottom and it was just wonderful compare to before when it was not as as brunt.

                  All the dishes were good not bummers in this lot.

                  The actual cost of this feast was 22 dollars each counting in a 20% tip. Chinese beers were 3 dollars each.