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Aug 16, 2008 11:36 PM

Hand Shaved Noodles and New Menu @ Su Hong Eatery, Palo Alto

This week I stopped by Su Hong in Palo Alto with crab XLB in mind for a quick lunch. But I shifted gears when I saw the new expanded menu. That is, expanded in the sense that the “secret” Shanghainese specialties have been translated into English! The English version of the menu now has 275+ items, whereas it had been much shorter than the Chinese language one in the past, and now makes Su Hong’s best dishes easily accessible to everyone. I asked the hostess about the change, and she replied that “non-Chinese like to come here for our xiao long bao, so we updated the menu in English for them.”

New to me was the section of “hand shaved noodles”, and I ordered the seafood version. These noodles were much different in texture and form than the knife-cut noodles we’ve been exploring elsewhere. Rather than doughy, uneven in width and thickness, and pointed on the ends, these hand-shaved noodles were dense to the bite, quite uniform in thickness (thin actually) and rounded on the ends. At first glance I thought that I’d been served Shanghainese rice cakes by mistake. But no, while they’re somewhat ovoid, these are a bit longer and narrower than the rice cakes. And, they’re much chewier and firmer in texture.

Not that much wok influence, but tasty from the thinned down version of slightly sweet Shanghai-style brown sauce, fresh spinach and napa cabbage, and pieces of scallop, fish, and shrimp. Some of the shrimp had a slightly metallic aftertaste, yet, I liked this dish and would order it again.

Stir Fried Hand Shaved Noodle with Mixed Seafood, $9.25 -

Su Hong Eatery
4256 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94306

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  1. Linking to the new location, which replaced the old location about a week ago, still with the new expanded menu. I tried the eel noodle soup, which was good but not outstanding. I probably will try those hand-shaved noodles soon, but there's a lot to explore on this menu.


    Su Hong Eatery
    4256 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94306

    3 Replies
    1. re: mdg

      I stopped by to pick up takeout for dinner last night, and I have a very favorable impression. I only eat Shanghainese food a few times a year, so I hesitate to say it's some of the best I've had, but that was sort of how I felt. Without adjusting for the fact that I was a young white guy without my Shanghainese M-I-L to handle the ordering, or that the food I ate was takeout, it was still delicious. Adjusting for those factors, which are usually majorly compromising, the food was amazing.

      I ordered from the online menu, but somehow the numbering didn't match to what the lady taking my order was looking at so I had to describe the dishes I wanted. In the end I got exactly what I wanted, so it worked out, but the new and improved translated menu isn't quite the seamless transaction enabler that I was hoping it would be. Helpfully, they hi-lite Shanghainese dishes where they appear on the menu so you can order exclusively from them and I suspect the cooks who do the americanized cantonese glop then don't touch the dishes you order and the good Shanghainese cooks do all the work.

      I ordered: (Menu:
      )1045 MarLanTou with Dry Tofu Salad -- glad I tried this vegetable, wasn't a very interesting or particularly tasty dish. Reminded my persian friend of some Persian dishes of chopped green veggies
      1068 Lion's Head in Clay Pot -- this was the braised cabbage, veggies, 3 large meatball version that is what I typically see in the bay area, not the single large meatball in clear broth version. Richly flavored and satisfying, but not exceptional. $15 seemed steep, but it is an awful lot of food. Could almost serve 4 with an order of rice.
      1120 Braised Pork Belly w. Tofu Ties -- delicious. Rich gelatinous master sauce (not sure if it qualified as red cooked or brown cooked), delicious cubes of pork belly and the knots of tofu skin were long-braised and absolutely wonderful. The small serving size is plenty for 4 people to get a satisfying taste, more of this rich dish would be overwhelming.
      1202 Mustard Green & Sheeted Tofu $ 6.75 OR 1043 Mustard Green, Soy Bean & Sheeted Tofu $5.5 in the cold dish section: I tried to order the cold dish one because I wanted the fresh soy beans, but she told me it was out of season. She suggested the other similar one from the hot menu section, but we ended up with a dish that was strongly umami, warm, and had fresh green soy beans, so who knows exactly what we got. In any case, I've had this at Jai Yun, Shanghai House, China Bee, and a few other places and this was definitely a very good version.
      1219 Pickled Turnip, Pork in Hand Shaved Noodle Soup - This is a similar dish to something I got at a Shanghainese place I tried on De Anza, but everything about it was better, from the noodle texture to the broth/sauce flavor to the balance of pork to pickled turnip to noodle to sauce. Hard to pick a favorite dish, but this was up there. Excited to try their other hand shaved noodle soups. I also like the pan seared version, but it can be a bit greasy and the soup was fairly free of grease.

      Because I was doing takeout and I usually find XLB awful at dinner time, I skipped some of the more delicate seafood and XLB type dishes. The braised dishes all do very well as takeout and didn't mind being microwaved to bring them back to good serving temperature.

      For 2 people, we way over-ordered, but we'd both had awful days and the total came out to $47, so it wasn't bad. The leftovers will give us plenty of extra meals. We were pigs, with spinache dip from Andronico's, La Brea cheese bread, Fuki sushi deluxe nigiri samplers, all this Shanghainese food, some delicious Barolo from Beltramo's, and yumi yogurt. I felt like we plundered the treasures of the mid-peninsula.

      One last comment: the lady who took my order and then gave it to me at the restaurant complimented me that I had ordered a very Shanghainese style meal. It's refreshing that a local Chinese restaurant has made its regional specialties accessible to non-Chinese, and that they cook the food as if you actually want what you ordered, rather than trying to anticipate your retarded American palate and serve you Americanized slop without forcing you through an extended song and dance. I wish Su Hong were in San Francisco - I'd order takeout often, and eat in for more delicate items too.

      1. re: SteveG

        Gosh, I was going to eat there on Thursday but figured I'd give the kitchen more time to get used to the new digs. Thanks so much for this report and the English menu tip. My theory is that having the restaurant in Menlo Park serve all Americanized dishes and siphon off the customers who want that, the Palo Alto location can concentrate on real Shanghainese cooking for its own customer niche.

      2. re: mdg

        William and I checked it out last week. Wow, that's a big parking lot. But the interior of the place seems smaller to me.

        We started with the Shanghai-style soup packed with pork ribs, salty side pork, bamboo shoots, etc. A nice version, but Wm commented that Jade Palace's is better. But JP requires a special order whereas here it's on the regular menu.

        Then pork and crab xiao long bao, seems like there's less crab each time I order these. Yet the wrappers were so tender and delicate, and beautifully pleated.

        A dish I wouldn't order again is the family-style shaved noodles. The noodles themselves were fine and so toothsome. But we didn't like the excessive sweetness of the brown sauce.