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Bund Shanghai restaurant

d
david kaplan Jan 14, 2009 07:00 PM

The former New Jackson Cafe space at 640 Jackson is now finishing renovation and will become Bund Shanghai. The decor looks sleek and modern. No menu was available. A nearby restaurant owner said that the owners of Bund recently moved here from Shanghai. A sign said it's opening this month. Anyone have more info?

  1. Ruth Lafler Jan 14, 2009 08:44 PM

    Sounds promising! It will be nice to have a Shanghai restaurant closer to downtown.

    1. Xiao Yang Jan 14, 2009 09:23 PM

      Hallelujah!

      1. Chandavkl Jan 14, 2009 09:54 PM

        Shanghai food in Chinatown--what an idea! But I wonder how the Associations let that happen?

        3 Replies
        1. re: Chandavkl
          Xiao Yang Jan 14, 2009 10:34 PM

          Wouldn't be without precedent, what with Meilong Village/DPD at Jackson & Kearny in the past, and Star Lunch across the street, But I would have thought that 640 Jackson was safely in Cantonese hands. Who knows, the original Jackson Cafe was almost a daily ritual for me in the early '60s, maybe the wheel of fortune has come all the way around.

          1. re: Xiao Yang
            s
            Sharuf Feb 25, 2009 02:48 AM

            And it was at least once a week for me. I sat at the counter. Wonder if the new place will have counter dining?

            1. re: Sharuf
              Xiao Yang Feb 25, 2009 08:39 PM

              The counter went out long ago. Not many counters left in Chinatown.

        2. ChowFun_derek Jan 14, 2009 10:42 PM

          Well that is good news...I feel a Chowdown coming on! How long shall we give them to get their act together before we descend en masse!???

          1. Xiao Yang Jan 15, 2009 04:54 PM

            I couldn't rest until I checked out this eventuality (Shanghainese food within walking distance of home, that's a wet dream for me) and it appears to be the real deal. I managed to corral a couple of Shanghainese "lao taipos" (matrons) coming out of the place and interrogated them. They spoke less English than I do Shanghainese, but we managed to communicate (and I wowed them with my Shanghai hua). They plan to open on January 31, and yes, they will have xiao long bao, yes sheng jian bao, yes youtiao, yes dou jiang, yes red-cooked pork belly... and there I stopped, lest I break down and cry.

             
            2 Replies
            1. re: Xiao Yang
              Ruth Lafler Jan 15, 2009 05:18 PM

              But XY, I thought you got all the Shanghai food you wanted at home! Has Mrs. Y stopped cooking?

              1. re: Ruth Lafler
                Xiao Yang Jan 15, 2009 05:40 PM

                She doesn't do lunch.. no XLB, shengjian bao, you tiao, doujiang, cifan gao, luobosi bing, etc.

            2. Eugene Park Jan 15, 2009 05:55 PM

              I'm just glad the menu won't match the cuisine the name implies (i.e. upscale Western fare is what you'd typically find in the restos on the Bund in Shanghai).

              1 Reply
              1. re: Eugene Park
                Xiao Yang Jan 15, 2009 06:05 PM

                The Chinese name is simply "Shanghai Restaurant" (Shanghai Fan Dian). My fear was that it would turn out to be one of those places with "Shanghai" in the name but having nothing to do with Shanghai, like "Shanghai China Restaurant" on Mission St.

              2. j
                JohnCena2009 Jan 20, 2009 10:34 AM

                the owner told me the restaurant will be open on jan 21st and the menu is available now and it looks pretty good. The only thing im quite sure about them is they are really from shanghai because they speak shanghaiese

                4 Replies
                1. re: JohnCena2009
                  d
                  david kaplan Jan 20, 2009 11:18 AM

                  Just walked by, and they are indeed opening tomorrow. Regular hours are 8 am - 9 pm.

                  1. re: david kaplan
                    Xiao Yang Jan 20, 2009 07:05 PM

                    Thanks to you and JohnCena for the news. The two "lao taipos" I talked to spoke English so hesitantly they may have confused me about 21st versus 31st. The 8:00 AM opening is great news to me; a place operating in full Shanghai breakfast mode a 15 minute walk from home is almost too good to be true.

                    1. re: Xiao Yang
                      Chandavkl Jan 20, 2009 09:32 PM

                      I expect to see a report posted by noontime (unless you're staying for both breakfast and lunch).

                      1. re: Chandavkl
                        Xiao Yang Jan 21, 2009 07:10 AM

                        Prior commitments in AM (free day at California Academy of Sciences) but may take a look this aft.

                2. Xiao Yang Jan 21, 2009 02:57 PM

                  I guess Chandavkl knows me better than I do myself; I couldn't restrain myself for going to Bund Shanghai for a late lunch and checking out three of my benchmark items: xiao long bao, savory soy milk soup (xian dou jiang) and sheng jian bao. With the caveat that I am suffering from a head cold which somewhat impairs my tasting ability, here are my first reactions.

                  - The xiao long bao were good, better than the mean for Bay Area XLB, though not on a par with Shanghai Dumpling King's or probably Shanghai House's. Proper size and amount of "soup," but the wrappers were a touch too thick, and the broth lacking in intensity. They are a little on the pricey side, $6.95 for 8, compared to SDK's $4.95(?)

                  - The xian dou jiang was also good, better than SDK's but not as good as Shanghai House's exemplary version; well curdled, complex in flavor but neither salty nor spicy enough (but that could just be my impaired taste buds). ($2.00 a bowl.)

                  - The sheng jian bao (pan fried dumplings) were the biggest disappointment, partly bacause the Maitre de/server said they were a house specialty. Like most American versions, they wimped out on the amount of pork fat in the broth, and they were barely browned on the bottoms instead of having the hell scorched out of them. They were fried bottoms down, not folded top down (Xiao Yang style) and garnished with sesame seeds ($5.95 for 6.)

                  The menu is pretty thoroughly Shanghainese, with some Cantonese Golden Oldies (mostly in the Lunch Rice Plate section of the menu). I'll be sampling more in the breakfast/brunch "small eats" category and eventiually get my Shanghai posse together for a dinner meal. (My favorite eel dish, "xiang you shan hu" is on the menu).

                  Nothing earthshaking there yet that I've found, but I'm inclined to cut Bund Shanghai some slack because they are a 15-minute walk for me rather than the hour-long haul by bus to SDK and Shanghai Dumpling House.

                   
                   
                   
                  7 Replies
                  1. re: Xiao Yang
                    e
                    estnet Jan 21, 2009 11:22 PM

                    If you decide to do a chowdown please send me an e-vite :) If I'm in town would love to meet more ch and get to try more than I can when I dine as a single diner :D

                    1. re: estnet
                      Dave MP Jan 22, 2009 06:34 AM

                      Estnet - Are you signed up on the email list? If not, here's a link to info about that:

                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4691...

                    2. re: Xiao Yang
                      Dave MP Jan 22, 2009 06:35 AM

                      Thanks for the report, I'm gonna check this place out soon. Was yesterday really their grand opening? Also, are all menu items translated into English?

                      1. re: Dave MP
                        Xiao Yang Jan 22, 2009 08:19 AM

                        The harried maitre de kept repeating "It's out first day" as if by way of apology for the service, which really wasn't bad. The place was still full (all Chinese) at 1:15 when I got there so it had probably been a hectic first lunch.

                        The only menu I saw was a bi-lingual one (the same as the tri-fold takeout menu) and I didn't notice any specials on the walls; but again, it was the first day and this could change.

                      2. re: Xiao Yang
                        yimster Jan 31, 2009 07:58 AM

                        It is nice that we now have Shanghai food within the borders of Chinatown. But does the food make it worth while to drive up to the City for? We have a great selection of Shanghai food in the South Bay.

                        If you head a chow down I am sure the hounds will fill at least one table.

                        Thanks for the report.

                        1. re: yimster
                          s
                          SteveG Jan 31, 2009 04:33 PM

                          I would give it a few weeks, but it definitely is a strong contender and should be very very good soon when they work everything out. We had dinner there last night, we ordered:
                          -
                          Eels with leek, really yellow chive, my favorite rendition of 3 or 4 around the bay area that I have had, the eels themselves were quite tasty, the sauce moistened them but was not soupy, and it had only a hint of sweetness, where other places sometimes make it too sweet for me.
                          -
                          Soybeans with preserved pork turned out to be fava beans with very salty ham, perhaps smithfield? I liked the flavors quite a bit, and it was a huge serving, but the favas were on the soft mushy side--though my digestion wasn't as bad as I expected for having eaten a cup of favas, so perhaps having them be well cooked is a help there.
                          -
                          3 Treasure soy sheets or something like that--the translations are good enough to know which classics you're ordering but not as accurate as they could be. This was tofu skin sliced like noodles, with a delicious gentle savory flavor that was very very good, probably our favorite dish. It also had well more than 3 treastures, including some green veggie that was new to me (shanghai cabbage maybe?), some morsels of white fish, some shiitake, some ham, and I think one more thing that I can't remember. We got a kick out of being able to count more than the advertised 3 treasures, compared to our usual difficulty finding all 7 treasures in 7 treasure lotus rice in dim sum houses.
                          -
                          Xiao Long Bao, as Xaio Yang explains, probably better during the day, but almost all of these had good soup in them. Nice flavor, skins above average but not my #1 or #2 favorite in the area. I was disappointed by how thick the ginger slivers were in the black vinegar dish--I like them to be whispy.

                          We also asked for smoked fish, but he told us it wasn't the best because they coudln't get the right type of fish and tried it with a substitute that didn't work out, nice and honest of him.

                          1. re: yimster
                            yimster Feb 20, 2009 07:32 PM

                            I finally made to Bund the other day and was pleased that they are in the process of expanding the menu. We had a Zhang Jang Mein which was not on the menu as of yet. I was told the gentlemen manning the front station that if I want something else and the chef could make they would.

                            Had the Red Braised Loin's Head and xlb's. Both were fine on a par with what I am use to in Mid Peninsula. A good place to stop by in Chinatown if you are not in the mood for Cantonese. I will have to find better dishes before I would drive all the way up to the City.

                        2. rworange Jan 28, 2009 05:33 PM

                          So I ask this really knowing the answer ... anyone had any (more) meals there yet? From what I'm reading on the web this might be a real find.

                          From a source I'd trust, the owner is Shanghainese tho has been in the US for a few decades. The two dinner chefs are from Shanghai. He is a lawyer and is using the restaurant to provide work for family members.

                          Would be nice to have a good restaurant in Chinatown ... anyone?

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: rworange
                            Melanie Wong Jan 28, 2009 05:39 PM

                            Guess you missed this thread with several other reports, http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/591132

                            1. re: Melanie Wong
                              rworange Jan 28, 2009 06:29 PM

                              Eh, thanks. This site is so slow for me now and all that freezing up and shutting down, I'm about four pages back in my reading. I catch what is on the first page at the time and then work backward. I'm on Jan 23. Guess I missed it when I was adding the place record last night. Thanks again.

                          2. pane Jan 29, 2009 10:23 AM

                            thanks for the tip, david kaplan!

                            i made it out last night with davemp, and we had a wonderful dinner. per usual, we ordered way too much, and ate almost everything:

                            -pork xlb
                            -rice cakes with bacon and spinach
                            -soy-braised pork
                            -spinach with tofu
                            -sesame mochi

                            rice cakes were delicious, with that lovely thick, salty bacon and fresh spinach leaves mixed in. dave pointed out that they were a bit oily, but i remember oiliness being common to all the dishes i ate in shanghai, so it didn't bother me.

                            soy-braised pork: a large portion, enough to split between three or four people. lovely soft bits of meat with five spice powder; sweet but not overly so. i would certainly order this again.

                            to balance the pork component of our meal, we ordered tender, young leaves of spinach mixed in with ropey bits of tofu. it was lovely.

                            the only thing i didn't like were the pork xlb. they arrived deflated, like hats soaked by a rainstorm. there was very little soup inside. this is the only dish i wouldn't order again.

                            service was warm and gracious. we were getting up to leave when the woman who may be the mother of the owner came over and pushed me back into my seat. she didn't speak english, but signaled that we needed to wait. so we waited...and out came dessert #2, on the house, mochi in rice wine. this mochi was even better than the first sesame mochi--these were smaller balls, some sesame and some peanut, inside a light, piquant rice-wine broth.

                            it was an experience i can't wait to repeat. service was friendly and professional (though people didn't speak much english, so you couldn't quiz anyone on unfamiliar dishes.) we also got a very pleasant pre-dinner starter of peanuts mixed with seaweed. a nice touch.

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: pane
                              Xiao Yang Jan 29, 2009 10:56 AM

                              I posted a separate dinner review after my lukewarm lunch experience, because I felt it deserved a standalone ringing endorsement for dinner, and I included a bunch of background info on the staff. It contributes to a great troika, with Great Eastern for Cantonese and Z&Y for Sichuan eats both directly across the street. Solid, Jackson!

                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/591132

                              1. re: Xiao Yang
                                Dave MP Jan 29, 2009 10:26 PM

                                I was thinking the same thing - that block of Jackson is quite concentrated now!

                                I really enjoyed the meal at Bund Shanghai, and I'm excited to go back, especially to try one of the set menus - the owner said they'd have English translations soon, as it's now only in Chinese.

                                The staff was very nice - I thought it was funny we had two desserts. The rice cakes w/ bacon and spinach were great. Texture of rice cakes was perfect balance of slippery and chewy. I did think it was a bit on the oily side, but still good.

                                Pork dish and spinach/bean curd dish were both good as well, though also a tad oily, especially the spinach/bean curd which I didn't think needed to be oily at all. But taste and freshness wise both were great.

                                Like pane said, XLB were totally deflated. I thought the flavor was good, and I'd order them one more time just to make sure this wasn't a fluke. Have other people had deflated XLB here?

                                Of the mochi, I also preferred the small mochi in rice wine. This wasn't nearly as sweet as the version I've had at Sunny Shanghai - Xiao Yang, you might want to give it a try!

                                Overall, a nice place, nice people, pleasant atmosphere (clean and bright). I will be returning soon!

                                1. re: Dave MP
                                  Xiao Yang Jan 30, 2009 10:00 AM

                                  I had the xiaolong bao at lunch time on opening day. They were decent, not deflated (see the picture), just not up to SDK's standards. Bund Shanghai has a separate "dim sum" chef, who may not be around at dinner time, since they start breakfast service at 8:00 am.

                                   
                                  1. re: Xiao Yang
                                    Eugene Park Jan 30, 2009 11:08 AM

                                    Slightly OT, but would it be considered bad form to have the resto take back an order of deflated XLB, and ask for another order? Seems to me that the broth is one of the key components/textures of the XLB experience.

                                    I've been lucky to have had "plump" XLBs at the places I've ordered it at, but you can never say never.......

                                  2. re: Dave MP
                                    s
                                    SteveG Jan 30, 2009 10:29 AM

                                    Are the rice cakes something that look like they were cut from a 1" in diameter tube of pasta dough on the diagonal? Ending up oblong, maybe 3/8" thick? If so, I've had that at Shanghai House, I think it's on the year-round menu, and they were definitely lightly coated in oil but with a rewarding wok-ha flavor.

                                    1. re: SteveG
                                      d
                                      david kaplan Jan 30, 2009 11:18 AM

                                      Yes. "Ovalettes," as I've seen them described when packaged. At Bund they are larger around (not thicker, though) than I've ever seen. They are used in Shanghainese and Korean cooking ("dok" in Korean); Korean cuisine also uses cylindrically-shaped rice cakes.

                                      1. re: SteveG
                                        Dave MP Jan 30, 2009 02:45 PM

                                        I often order rice cakes like these at Shanghainese places, and I thought the version at Bund was slightly on the oily side compared to what I've had elsewhere. But they were also very tasty, and I really liked the version with bacon and spinach.

                                2. Xiao Yang Jan 31, 2009 08:22 PM

                                  I hit it again for brunch today, with my wife and step-daughter in tow. We went for the sheng jian bao (again, because my wife wanted to try them), luobo si bing, Shanghai style shao mai and two characteristic Shanghai soups, Firm tofu and vermicelli soup and curry beef soup.

                                  I don't know if Bund Shanghai was responding to my earlier complaint, but the sheng jian bao ("pan fried bun") were properly scorched on the bottom this time, though they still failed to deliver the dribble-down-the-chin river of fatty broth. I do know that the owner reads Chowhound, because when I ran into him on the street he addressed me as "Xiao Yang."

                                  The luobo si bing are listed on the menu as "Triump Puff" with "Triump" an apparent misspelling of "Turnip" and are a puff pastry shell filled with seasoned shredded daikon. These were a good version.

                                  The Shanghai shao mai (siu mai) are quite different from Cantonese siu mai. They are of what I would call a "moneybag" shape with a pinched neck, and the filling is primarily soy sauce-infused sweet rice. Bund Shanghai's version are uncharacteristically small compared to the monster-sized ones sole on the streets of Shanghai, but otherwise tasted the same.

                                  The two soups we tried are simple soups meant to accompany dumplings or other snacks, and won't knock your socks off in anybody's version, "Firm tofu and vermicelli" is actually deep fried tofu and bean thread noodles; "Curry Beef Soup" also used bean thread noodles and is infused with a mild, Madras-type curry. Apart from being a little less salty (or a little less MSG-ey) than their Shanghai coiunterparts, they were true to type.

                                   
                                   
                                   
                                   
                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Xiao Yang
                                    grayelf Feb 3, 2009 09:31 PM

                                    Between this thread and the other one started by Xiao_Yang, I now have Bund Shanghai firmly on my spring 2009 visit shortlist. We always stay near Chinatown and like to try a new-to-us place there each time. Thanks to all of you who've provided details about specific dishes on which I've made copious notes to guarantee us good Chowing. Blessings.

                                  2. k
                                    Kmanlove Feb 4, 2009 12:16 PM

                                    Went for lunch today by myself. After the reports, was ready to be disappointed by the XLB, but was quite surprised. They were great. All but 1 were quite plump, with a delicious broth. Will definitely put this place on my return visit list.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Kmanlove
                                      Ruth Lafler Feb 4, 2009 04:05 PM

                                      I think what the reports have been are that the XLB are better at lunch than at dinner (different chef).

                                    2. h
                                      Howard Wong Feb 20, 2009 08:45 PM

                                      A nice addition to variety in Chinatown---of fairly good overall quality. I tried the classic Drunken Chicken, with the bone, traditional taste and texture. The more unfamiliar Beef Dumplings were exceptional. Without having to go westward, "Bund Shanghai" can become a regular place to go. Westward, "Five Happiness" on Geary has better Drunken Chicken (boneless). And "Shanghai House" on Balboa has a Drunken Half-Chicken of high stnadards.

                                      1. Eugene Park Feb 23, 2009 08:59 PM

                                        Finally made it to Bund today, and had a very late lunch (after 2PM) with the wife. We ordered the XLB, rice cakes with bacon (uncured) and spinach, and the braised eggplant. Rice cakes came out first. My wife, who is Korean like myself, had two immediate visual impressions:

                                        1) "Hey, these look like dok (Korean rice cakes)!"
                                        2) "There's no soy sauce or other condiments on any table - - this dish looks bland!"

                                        Then she had a bite, and realized that it had plenty of seasoning (the rice cakes look like the typical, unadorned Korean rice cakes that you have in soups, sometimes with mahndoo). We both liked this a lot.

                                        Next, the braised eggplant arrived. It was piping hot, and was braised in a sweet/spicy chili sauce. Flavor was not oily/unctuous like you often find with this dish, though some of the eggplant pieces had a tough skin. We'd order this again.

                                        XLB arrived last. Average in size, above average in thinness of skin, all were plump to almost bursting with broth (but remained intact). Flavor-wise, they were above average, but nowhere near the equal of SS or SDK. The pork filling wasn't assertive enough in taste IMO.

                                        Service was acceptable. The resto is long in terms of depth, with the kitchen all the way in the back, so if you sit near the front there's a long hike for the server to bring your food over. There were a couple of flat screen TVs in the middle of the room (back to back, so each half of the room has a view) with the sound turned off. Utensils and dishware are still in new condition, with no scuffs on the plates or glasses. Men's bathroom was clean.

                                        Total (including a single serving of steamed rice, priced at $1.50) with tip came out to $31.00. No charge for tea. Portions are on the somewhat below average size, but I'll be back......

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Eugene Park
                                          Xiao Yang Feb 24, 2009 08:18 AM

                                          You impressions pretty much mirror mine. The xiao long bao, while not bad, do not reach the level of their other offerings. For the record, we queried them on the nian gao (rice cakes) and they do cook with the Korean version, which my Shanghainese wife also favors in San Francisco.

                                        2. c oliver Feb 22, 2010 01:42 PM

                                          (I just wrote a review and it didn't post so I'll try again.)

                                          We went there last week while in SF. We went for the XLB and were very, very pleased. Thought they were far superior to Shanghai Dumpling King. Thinner skin, more "soup." Maybe SDK was just having an off day a month or so ago. After the XLB we ordered the red-braised pork shank which was amazing. I've attached a photo and I NEVER take pix in restaurants. It was fall-apart tender with the fat separating nicely from the meat. It was, I believe, the most expensive item on the menu at $16 but would have fed 4 people. We took more than half of it home for another meal. I love the decor, much more spare and contemporary than your usual Chinatown restaurant. I highly recommend them.

                                           
                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: c oliver
                                            Ruth Lafler Feb 22, 2010 02:09 PM

                                            Yum! Red-braised pork shank, like most braised dishes, is even better the next day(s).

                                            1. re: c oliver
                                              d
                                              david kaplan Feb 22, 2010 02:29 PM

                                              Glad you enjoyed. The one complaint some have made about Bund is that many items -- including XLB -- are too sweet. Did you find that?

                                              1. re: david kaplan
                                                c oliver Feb 22, 2010 02:48 PM

                                                The two dishes we had, definitely not IMO (I don't have the most refined palate tho'). That's probably why I didn't think the flavor of the pork was overpowering. From the looks of it, it could have been much sweeter. And the XLB? Well, with the vinegar, I doubt I'd notice. The guys at the next table gave us a healthy bite of the red-braised yellow croaker and I think it was sweeter. Haven't I read that Shanghainese food IS generally sweeter? Next trip to the city, we'll definitely be going back there so will branch out into other dishes. Dark and lonely job.... :)

                                            2. c oliver Dec 29, 2010 02:09 PM

                                              Finally made it back to SF with enough time for another lunch here. Met our daughter and SIL who'd never been. Started with two orders of XLB and I still think they're terrific and again will say that those of you who live here and can shop around probably have way more refined palates than I do but I love them. We then had the lion's head beef ball which I'd not had before anywhere. It was very tender and flavorful, good sauce and lovely baby bok choy accompanying it. I could tell Bob wanted more food so we got Dan Dan Noodles. I don't know WHY I ordered it as I've thought of it as a sweetish Chinese American dish. But I LOVED this. My tongue and lips were doing a little happy dance from the spiciness, very meaty and soupy. This is definitely something I want to make at home.

                                              So another really good meal here. When we left a little after 1, it was full which I loved seeing.

                                              1. Robert Lauriston Jul 19, 2011 02:03 PM

                                                Went last night because the line at Z & Y was too long (at 9:15 on a Monday!)

                                                Vegetarian goose, really nicely seasoned, great texture. Bamboo shoots with Shanghai spinach (shepherd's purse?) and pork, maybe a little too delicate for my taste. Red braised lion's head meatballs, most refined version of this I've had, very nice. Braised silver carp with green onion, great and unusual flavor.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                  Robert Lauriston Jul 19, 2011 02:04 PM

                                                  Link:

                                                  -----
                                                  Bund Shanghai
                                                  640 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA

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