Asian Grill in North Raleigh
I was reading The China Star newspaper a few days ago and saw the ad about this restaurant. The ad mentions authentic Shanghai cuisine and I know there is basically no restaurant in this area that offers Shanghai style Chinese food.
The restaurant has just opened for couple of weeks and is located right next to the Raleighwood Cinema on Falls of Neuse Road. Along with Shanghai style food you get your typical Chinese food and Sushi.
The most famous Shanghai style food would probably be the Shao Luong Bao, or known as Soup Dumplings. Basically it's a steamed dumpling with lots of juices inside. The juice makes the dumpling "soupy". At this restaurant you get six made to order pork soup dumplings for 6.95 and crab for 7.95.
The Baos were well made and not too overly soupy so you won't get yourself squirted, scorched or both. Actually there is a tutorial on the menu showing you how to eat them so there is no excuse for accidents/mistakes/laundry mishaps!
What I ordered today:
1. Hot and Sour Soup
2. Scallion Pancakes
3. Soup Dumplings
In sum, food was well made. The Soup Dumplings alone are worth the trip. When you get over there, please don't order stuff like Chicken Broccoli or Shrimp Lo Mein. Rather be adventurous, read through the back of the menu and give the Shanghai stuff a try.
I'm surprised that you had problems to that extent. Like some other Chinese restaurants in the area there can be a language barrier with some of the waitstaff. Last time I was there, there was a new male waiter who hadn't yet learned the menu and had a lot of trouble with English. He went to get the owner as soon as he realized there was a problem. The owner was happy to help.
When you ordered did you order strip mall Chinese-American food or did you order the Shanghai specialties? The staff sometimes (not always) assumes that non-Asians want Chinese-American food. I would assume their Chinese-American food is predictable. You won't get any kickback, as in "You wouldn't like that," for ordering traditional Shanghai dishes and the waitstaff has always been willing to make recommendations when I ask. Some dishes I like very much, others not so much.
Don't expect the Sichuan-sounding dishes to taste like their Sichuan counterparts. These are Shanghai interpretations of Sichuan food and are not nearly as spicy, as the Shanghai-ese generally don't prefer spicy food. It's not meant as an Americanization, it is how Shanghai restaurants cook Sichuan food.
I really hope your experience was not typical as I would hate to see this restaurant go down hill.
Many of us are from NY and are used to Flushing restaurants. With a very few exceptions, you just won't get that here. The Sichuan dishes at Asian Grill (such as Ma Po tofu and Beef with Chili Sauce) are authentic to the Shanghai way of cooking those dishes. They are not done the way that Super Wok, say, would cook them. They're not supposed to be.
If you ordered chicken chow mein - and I'm not saying that you did - of course it wouldn't be authentic. However, many dishes on the menu, xiao long bao, Shanghai thick noodles, and lion's head to name a few, a entirely authentic. If you don't like how the food tastes, you're more than entitled to have and express your opinion and certainly welcome to share it. It's unfair, however, to claim that Asian Grill's food is not authentic Shanghai style.
Disclaimer: I have no personal expertise with Shanghai food beyond frequent dining at Joe's in Flushing. My information comes from extensive conversations with a Chinese-born teacher at my child's school. He seems to have very broad knowlege of Chinese food and home cooking and I am happy to learn from him.
Just went for lunch after reading beltline's comments. I have felt that the restaurant has been finding its way and may be backing off the authentic. My example is that they are serving the non-Asians a sweat red vinegar dipping sauce with the soup dumplings, but when I requested the black vinegar it was provided.
We had the scallion pancakes, crab & pork soup-buns, home-style tofu, and fish in wine sauce. Everything was good, the soup-buns may not be as good as the ones from flushing, but they were enjoyable and much better then the ones I have had at a restaurant in Chapel Hill. The fish was fantastic, nice flavor large portion and interesting. While the home-style tofu was good it was missing the sour flavor that it had in previous visits.
There is new waiter and waitriss who are now just learning the menu, but when pushed they will go over to the owner for a better definition of the dish.
When I have visited in the evening there was a different woman working who is very familiar with the menu and Shanghai cooking. She explained that People in Shanghai do not like overly spicy food and that the Shanghai versions of Sichuan dishes are very toned down because of this. It is authentic for what it is, but not for purely Sichuan food. It's like going for BBQ in western nc and saying the bbq is not authentic because I am from Raleigh and it should not contain tomatoes.
I will continue to go back and try to stay with the Shanghai dishes that they do well, when I want Sichuan I will go to Super Wok because they do that well there.
7550 Dorchester Rd Unit F, North Charleston, SC 29418
My name is Rockycat and I'm here to eat my words.
Two of us had lunch today at Asian Grill. The menu on the website is their old menu, no longer offered. The current menu has Chinese-American dishes in the front half and traditional Shanghai dishes in the back half. We ordered the pork soup dumplings, stir-fried thick Shanghai noodles, and home-style tofu.
Soup dumplings - 6 to a serving. If your prior experience with soup dumplings is in a location with a significant Shaghai population these won't be the best you've ever had. They're good and we had no leakers (yeah!), but the broth could have been more flavorful. Still, I'm thrilled to see them at all and will be ordering them again. Next time, the crab filling.
Shanghai thick noodle - Good, a little meat, a little veg, very generous serving.
Home-style tofu - deep-fried tofu with assorted vegetables in a hot and sour sauce. This was the standout dish. The vegetables were varied, there was a slight but unmistakable taste of Sichuan peppercorn, and the sauce was distinctive. Also a very generous serving.
We spent about $33, a bit too much for lunch, but there are easily enough leftovers to make a dinner out of. The restaurant does not have a take-out menu yet so I can't put up scans. There is also a white board with specials written only in Chinese. The menu is not as extensive as SuperWok's but there is still quite a bit that looks like it's worth trying.
The owner is friendly and solicitous but has a little difficulty with English. Still, he does not automatically assume that a non-Asian "won't like" something on the traditional menu. Nor does he automatically offer silverwear.
Asian Grill may not be able to hold it's own with Shanghai restaurants in the big cities, but it's more than good and is a very welcome addition to the Raleigh dining scene. I wish them luck, thank them for opening somewhere convenient to me (finally I don't have to drive all over for good Chinese), and suggest giving them a try.
Thanks for the review. I pass by this place on the way to work, but had been a bit hesitent to give it a try. Will try to stop by next week. Never had soup dumplings before so I'm excited to try. Is this something I can get as takeout, or does it have to be enjoyed right there?
Went there today with a friend for lunch, and I have to agree with Rocky Cat, it is not as good as the Shanghai restaurants I have visited in Flushing, but for our area it is very good and a welcome addition.
The Soup Dumplings were very good, could have had more soup in them but were flavorful much better then the version I had in the Chappel Hill Restarant that also serves them. My friend never had them before and was very happy with them.
The Cold fried Tofu Shanghai style was excellent, it was served with some very good mushrooms and very tasty.
Also had the pork in spicy garlic sauce, the spice was noticeable but not too hot high meat to veg ratio, would definitely get this dish again.
The portion sizes are large, and the two of us were overstuffed from the 3 items we ordered, could have easily done without the tofu.
My biggest complaint is that in the entry way there was two full boards of specials only written in chinese, have to feel that I am missing something by not knowing what is on that board. Maybe if enough people go and order from the traditional part of the menu he will start to translate it.
This restaurant has been opened more than a few weeks - they had already offered a Groupon the first week in July. Still, that's nitpicking. I'm wondering where you found a traditional Shanghai menu. It isn't on their website that I could find. The posted menu is an unfortunate mishmash of random Japanese, Thai, and take-out style Chinese-American dishes. There's nothing there to suggest anything remotely like competence with traditional food. To be honest, the large section of Hibachi dishes and the low priced sushi kinda scare me.