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Feb 6, 2009 03:06 PM

Bund Shanghai Restaurant Chowdown

A group nine of us met up at Bund Shanghai Restaurant for lunch today. The cost came out to $22 a person (no alcohol, 20% tip).

We had:
Xiao Long Bao
Pan-fried Bun
Rice Cake w/ Shepherd’s Purse & Pork
Rice Cake w/ Spinach & Bacon
Cucumber Salad
Wine Sauce Fish Fillet
Soy Sauce Braised Pork with Twisted Bean Curd Skin
Braised Pork Upper Leg in Soy Sauce
Bok Choy Sprouts
Boiled Bacon & Pork Soup

Since there were regional food experts there, I’ll let them chime in about the “authenticity” of the dishes.

The XLB was very good – plenty of soup and nice, soft interior (as opposed to a hard meatball). Most people found dough on the pan-fried bun a little too sweet – it also had a lower meat-to-dough ratio.

The rice cake with shepherd’s purse & pork was good but not outstanding while the rice cake with spinach & bacon was absolutely wonderful. What’s the difference you ask? 1) The shepherd’s purse was chopped very fine (imagine finely chopped parsley) and disappeared more into the dish than the spinach which was left more whole and 2) The bacon was also mostly left in bigger chunks and had more tooth than the sautéed pork.

The cucumber salad was a refreshing respite from the heavier pork dishes. It was just simple cucumber sticks with a rice vinegar-sesame dressing.

The wine sauce fish fillet was another dish that I found to be a little too sweet and saucy for my tastes but others seemed to enjoy it.

The soy sauce braised pork and the pork leg dishes were similar, both good but I preferred the leg. I just love the crispy crust & tender juicy interior that is intrinsic to its form factor.

The bok choy sprouts with tofu skin strips was another favorite dish for me – light & tasty – I will definitely order it in the future although it wasn’t on the menu so I don’t know how often it’s available.

Last, the boiled bacon & pork soup with bok choy was nice and a good version of such a soup but I was pretty porked out and found it to be one of the least interesting pork dishes of the day.

Bottom Line: The food was very good. I will definitely be back. I will definitely order the XLB, Rice Cake with Spinach & Bacon, Braised Pork Leg and Bok Choy Sprouts in the future. But then, as we were leaving, I saw a lot of great looking food on other tables.

For dessert, Derek provided egg custard tarts from Golden Gate and I was happy to find they've gone "uphill". When the new baker started I did not like them at all but the ones today were much closer to the original GG egg custards (although the crust is not there yet) that I'm willing to put them back on my recommended list.

PS: Derek, you left your umbrella. I have it.

Bund Shanghai
640 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA

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  1. Here's a link to the photos of our lunch. It was a great lunch and even better company, as usual. The rice cakes with bacon & spinach were very good and the soy braised pork leg was something I'd have again. I too thought the rice wine fish was a bit too sweet. And even though I enjoyed the XLB - and would order them again ...... I enjoyed the XLB at Sunny Shanghai a bit more.

    1. Thanks for starting this topic, and a special thanks to “david kaplan” for spotting this place and hosting. Basically, we had a pork fest, as all but the two vegetable dishes and the fish course were based on pork. But what better way to celebrate the new year! This was a very solid performance.

      We asked for our two baskets of XLB to be served one at a time, so that we could have them at their peak. For once, the kitchen actually did this and it added to the enjoyment. The skins of the dumplings are very thin, but are almost tough they’re so firm to the bite. I guess that what makes them so strong. As others have pointed out before, the pleats of the top knot is too thick and hard. My two had plenty of soup, would have liked a little richer, fattier broth.

      My favorite dish was the Shanghai cabbage sprouts (qing jiang cai miao, green stemmed, rather than the white stems of bok choy) with tofu skin strips (bai ye). These little sprouts seem to be the trendy Chinese veggie of the moment.

      I liked the soup quite a bit too. I was expecting something much heavier and thicker, and was pleasantly surprised by this prep. The stock was intensely meaty in flavor, yet managed to be delicate and refreshing at the same time. I enjoyed the Shanghai cabbage hearts in the soup.

      I preferred the braised pork upper leg (tipang) to the pork belly and tofu knots version in the same brown sauce. When done right, the soft braised rind gets me every time.

      Thanks dk for hosting the chowdown and to “vliang” for communicating with the staff. What a treat to have Shanghainese food in Chinatown again. It was also a pleasure to return to this site, which had housed the “old” Jackson Café, a place that provided many cherished food memories in my childhood. I have a P.S. for Derek too --- if we’d behaved, my dad would give me some change and I could go up to the counter and buy an “egg bomb” for dessert.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Melanie Wong

        Melanie, while we're having memories of the old Jackson Cafe ....... here are a couple of photos of the Jackson Cafe matchbook.

        1. re: gordon wing

          Funny, when I saw the address, 640 Jackson, I thought it might be Pork Chop House, so I looked on google and realized it was Jackson Cafe. That space has turned over maybe 3 times in 100 years. My grandfather owned a dry goods store at the NE corner of Jackson/Grant and my 80 y.o. Dad ate their as a kid and he brought me.

          I remember going there with my Dad and eating at the counter and complaining about a dirty spoon. The waiter, who my Dad knew, pulled out three other equally gross spoons and laid them on the table and said "choose." Then put them all back and went back to reading the paper. I went to the New Jackson Cafe once and that was it.

        2. re: Melanie Wong

          Love those "Egg Bombs" "Djah Dahn" (cantonese) I just had a basket of these at the Shanghai restaurant, On Balboa (East of the Theater a few blocks.) Shanghai Dumpling King.. I Also ordered Xiao Long Bao and a Braised Pork Upper leg...this was ALL just for me...well I certainly couldn't finish the leg, and got a few additional meals from it...but I had to try the Egg Bombs as they were so highly (and accurately) praised here on the board...these were the best I have had so far....thanks for the memory (Burp!)
          It's difficult having a Chowdown all by yourself!

        3. A few additional comments:

          The XLB were very good yesterday, with lots of soupy filling and loosely packed meat. The XLB I've had on previous visits here were not soupy -- even though I've only been here for lunch when the dim sum chef is working -- so there's some inconsistency. The pan-fried buns (shen jien bao?) were well-cooked on the bottom but too doughy and not saucy enough inside.

          The rice cake with spinach and bacon was good as ever (this was #3 for me): the rice cakes were silky without any mushiness, and the bacon is smoky and hearty.

          Loved the braised pork leg, even more than the pork belly, but I find the texture of the tofu twists that the pork belly is served with irresistible.

          For my next visit: one of the stir-fried thick noodle dishes.

          1. It is interesting..We had the same favorites, although I didn't feel that the silken fish was too sweet for my taste....I was born in the Year of the Pig...and I'm glad I was cause I was in Pork heaven! Even the pork soup was homey and full tasting, and not too salty as can happen when reducing the stock (nice big chunks of not overcooked pork)..
            The pan fried bun reminded me of Baked char siu bao, that got an additional pan fry to crunch up its' bottom...loved the texture of the crust, but the rest was uninteresting.
            I don't know how they get their cucumbers to firm and crisp up so well, but this simple dish was very good. The braised pork leg ( one of my favorite dishes) the soy braised pork dish and the one with rice cakes were very good , with the rice cakes having the perfect chewy but not gluey texture.!!!The Bok Choy Sprouts with long slivers of dried tofu (almost like spaghetti) was an unusual preparation for me, and one that I would have again. in fact I really can't wait to go back to Bund again...this place and the Chowhound Company makes for a great dining experience...
            Thanks for finding my umbrella..I had decided that I would donate it to the "Umbrella God" and that someone else would make use of it....but no its's returning to Papa!

            1. Thanks everyone for a great first Chowdown! I had a great time with a great group of people. I thought the food was excellent for the most part. The XLB turned out really great and were plenty juicy inside. I'm a big fan of the rice cakes in general as I love the texture, I thought the ones here were great, with the Spinach & Bacon ones being the standout dish of the two. I'm not usually a fan of the Asian style bacon, but these were fantastic. Be prepared for a bit of grease due to the ham though.

              The braised pork leg (which I would consider to be the red braised pork in Mandarin) was heavenly. The texture was excellent and the fat was gleaming. I could of eaten a ton of that. I definitely prefered this preparation to the other pork dish that we got. I actually quite liked the fish dish, I thought it was an interesting st yle of preparation, and being the sweet tooth that I am, I didn't find it to be especially sweet. The soup was another standout. Although I'm Taiwanese in extraction, where soup is king, I'm not usually a big fan, but this soup had me wanting seconds. It was very flavorful without being super rich. The Bok Choy sprouts were delicious as well. The cucumber dish I could have done without, as well as the pan fried buns, these two weren't anything special.

              I am definitely planning on a trip back to try out their "Shanghai style dim sum" dishes like mantou and soy milk and other flour breakfast type foods, as well as their dessert menu, including the 8 treasures rice, which I haven't had since I was a kid. I'd also like to try out their sesame mochi as well.

              Thanks to Derek for the great egg tart! One of my all time favorite desserts! I look forward to the next Chowdown!