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New Shanghai - Chinatown - Report

Dave MP Oct 19, 2010 08:56 PM

A friend and I tried New Shanghai for the first time the other day - and we were quite impressed! Great Sichuan food, and some other good stuff too.

We shared the following:

Shredded Pork and pickled vegetable soup - Huge bowl which could have served 5 of us, simple soup with nice pickled radish and also sliced bamboo shoot, along w/ pork. Nothing earth-shattering, but nice.

Dan Dan Noodles - Very good, and a LOT of sichuan pepper. In fact, probably this was the most heavily sichuan-peppered dish I've ever had in America. Good amount of spice as well, and definitely well worth it.

Shredded Chicken with Spicy Special Sauce - This was wicked good, and probably one of the top 3 things I've eaten since coming back to Boston. The sauce was bright red with chili oil, but also a bit sweet - chicken was tender and flavorful.

Peking Style Green Bean Tofu - This is really more of a noodle than tofu..... 凉粉 is made from the starch of mung beans, and the texture is somewhat jellylike. At first I thought it was actually going to be a green tofu which I had in Beijing at a Guizhou restaurant ( ). I really need to learn to read Chinese :-/
Anyway, this dish was nice, a good cooling dish to balance out the others. The dressing on the noodles was very light, and contained some sesame oil and a bit of wasabi, which was a nice touch. A Sichuan version of this same type of "tofu" is also available.

Pork and Leek Dumplings - Surprisingly good, filling was particularly flavorful, dough was a bit thin and too soft, but still pretty excellent dumplings overall.

This was far too much food for 2 of us, but we ate a lot of it. I definitely want to return soon.

New Shanghai Restaurant
21 Hudson St, Boston, MA 02111

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  1. barleywino RE: Dave MP Oct 20, 2010 04:58 AM

    don't miss the cumin lamb next time!

    1. g
      gourmaniac RE: Dave MP Oct 20, 2010 07:55 AM

      You did well with 2 people. I also like the pork belly and scallions, the chengdu chicken and (with barleywino), the cumin lamb.

      1. n
        nasilemak RE: Dave MP Oct 20, 2010 08:10 AM

        Really enjoyed their Fish with Spicy Bean Sauce this past summer.

        1. a
          astrid RE: Dave MP Oct 20, 2010 10:18 AM

          I have to disagree about the Dan Dan noodles. The version I had at New Shanghai were heavily spiced but the sauce was oddly sweet. Also the noodles themselves were way over cooked. Anyone else have a similar experience?

          The weakness of New Shanghai's Dan Dan was made even clearer to me two weeks later, when I went to the place in Billerica, which had perfectly spiced AND perfectly cooked Dan Dan -- I almost wept withjoy at how delicious they were. Certainly better than anything I've had since I was in Sichuan in 2005.

          New Shanghai Restaurant
          21 Hudson St, Boston, MA 02111

          1 Reply
          1. re: astrid
            Dave MP RE: astrid Oct 20, 2010 03:02 PM

            The Dan Dan noodles I had were slightly overcooked (but not way overcooked), but the sauce definitely wasn't sweet. The chicken dish I had, which had a similar sauce to the Dan Dan Mian, was meanwhile very sweet (but in a good way)

            I thought the dan dan noodles at Sichuan Garden in Framingham were better though...but had less sichuan pepper.

            I really need to make my way up to Billerica sometime soon!

            Sichuan Garden
            295 Washington St, Brookline, MA 02445

          2. 9
            9lives RE: Dave MP Oct 20, 2010 03:42 PM

            I've come to really like this place. It's cut into my Orange Line trips to Fuloonand Green to Brookline Village. Never mind the great places in Framingham or Billerica..:)

            Here's a few of the dishes that I like..the shredded chicken that you had and the cumin lamb mentioned,.Peking Spicy Cabbage, Szechuan wontons, Numbing Hot Bamboo shoots, minced beef sandwich cake, boiled beef filet.

            The soup dumplings are ok but far better at the newer dumpling place next to Penang on Washington.

            Lots more I want to try.

            BTW, their lunch specials are delicious, inexpensive, and with a few pastries from Hing Shing or Great Taste can be easily stretched to 2 meals.

            1. lipoff RE: Dave MP Oct 20, 2010 04:16 PM

              So I made my first trip to this incarnation of New Shanghai a few weeks ago, and I don't want to judge a restaurant too harshly after one visit, but I was not impressed at all.

              fu1 qi1 fei4 pian4 (pictured below) was okay, but was served so cold that the texture suffered. The sauce was quite la4 but not very ma2. The zi1 ran2 yang2 rou4 (Cumin Lamb) was the strangest thing I've seen --- not very spicy, but very cumin-y lamb, but fried! It was like Country Fried Sliced Cumin Lamb. Compared to the superlative versions at Wang's or Zoe's, this felt flat, heavy, and crude. An order of qing1 chao3 dou4 miao2 (stir fried pea shoots) was pretty good, but not actually qing1 chao3, instead of being "simply cooked" it had a lot of garlic in it. The rice was also a bit hard, and the fortune cookies were soggy.

              But Dave, I'd be happy to return with you sometime and find out what's best on their menu!

              New Shanghai Restaurant
              21 Hudson St, Boston, MA 02111

              10 Replies
              1. re: lipoff
                Dave MP RE: lipoff Oct 20, 2010 06:35 PM

                Funny you should say that about the fortune cookies.....the ones we ate the other night were really good. So good that my dining companion asked for a second one! Very fresh and crispy, and the fortunes were really funny! I can't remember the brand name at the moment, but it was one that I hadn't seen before.

                1. re: lipoff
                  Nab RE: lipoff Oct 20, 2010 06:56 PM

                  Funny, the other night as I was eating Thailand Cafe's fuqi fei pian, I was fondly remembering New Shanghai's version of the same, as it is one of my favourite renditions in town. I hate when this dish is served cold, but I can assure you this was likely a fluke for the New Shang.

                  New Shanghai Restaurant
                  21 Hudson St, Boston, MA 02111

                  1. re: Nab
                    lipoff RE: Nab Oct 22, 2010 12:38 AM

                    Well, this is exactly the reason why I hate to go to a restaurant only once.

                    I've many times experienced a poor meal at a restaurant that I've come to love, and realize that if I was just unlucky enough to have had that poor meal (or poor dish selection!) the first time I visited, if I didn't keep an open mind I would have deprived myself of so much greatness.

                    But I'm still skeptical of New Shanghai given the poor meal I had there, although I will surely be back. That they have kept the English name of the previous restaurant in their location, while changing the menu and the Chinese name, doesn't help their case in my book either. ;)

                    New Shanghai Restaurant
                    21 Hudson St, Boston, MA 02111

                    1. re: lipoff
                      Nab RE: lipoff Oct 22, 2010 06:24 AM

                      I'm glad you make the point - we often see restaurants getting written off based on a single datapoint.

                      I will agree with you that the cumin lamb is a bit of clunky rendition, though I will confess I find it tasty. It's more or less a salt & pepper fried style, with loads of cumin instead. It's not the first time I've encountered the fried version though, and I wonder if it's a regional prep. It's not my personal preference, but tasty in that grease-bomb kind of way.

                      1. re: Nab
                        9lives RE: Nab Oct 22, 2010 07:25 AM

                        I actually preferred the cumin lamb at New Taste of Asia in Coolidge Corner and prepare a similar dish at home. Most of my DC's really enjoy it so it's grown on me.

                        I'm hoping Lipoff and I can eat there together soon and explore the menu more thoroughly. With his knowlege of Chinese and our combined charm, I'm confident they can put out a meal we can enjoy..:)

                        New Taste of Asia
                        1393 Beacon St, Brookline, MA

                        1. re: 9lives
                          Dave MP RE: 9lives Oct 22, 2010 07:27 AM


                        2. re: Nab
                          Alcachofa RE: Nab Oct 22, 2010 11:05 AM

                          "It's more or less a salt & pepper fried style, with loads of cumin instead."

                          And a gazillion tons of garlic!

                    2. re: lipoff
                      barleywino RE: lipoff Oct 21, 2010 03:44 AM

                      That's odd, because I would have said the same thing about Wangs: boring, heavy and crude. I have never been able to finish anything I've ordered at wangs, and not because of portion size, but I just didn't enjoy what I was eating. but maybe that's just me...

                      1. re: barleywino
                        Dave MP RE: barleywino Oct 21, 2010 05:31 AM

                        Not even the dumplings!?!

                        1. re: Dave MP
                          barleywino RE: Dave MP Oct 21, 2010 08:33 PM

                          I think I'm more of a thin-skin dumpling fan, which unfortunately rules out most boiled dumplings in the style of wangs (shwei jiao). Something more like the boiled shrimp dumplings at NY Noodletown, or the soup dumplings/xiao long bao at Dumpling Cafe, jo jo taipei etc.

                    3. KWagle RE: Dave MP Oct 25, 2010 03:32 AM

                      I'm glad this place has finally gotten its own thread. I've had two very good meals there in the past few months, about which I'll write more later, but it's certainly high on my list of places to explore. I'm hoping to get back on Wednesday evening and of course anyone who shows up and sees me is welcome to sit down and eat my food (I'll just order more, bwahahah.)

                      A few things stood out: we had both a fish dish (my favorite "gan guo fish slices") and a lamb dish (probably lamb with cumin) in bubbling pots over sterno, loofah with a kind of mushroom known as "bamboo fungus", rabbit in an excellently flavored sauce, a dish that sadly contained far more dried peppers and bones than it did meat, and I believe a very good twice cooked pork.

                      It's interesting that Lipoff and I seem to have almost opposite preferences in restaurants. For example, I found "Top Garden" to be very good, certainly worth the drive from Somerville, but not even the best in the area, which I broadly define to include NYC. Likewise Wang's, I went back recently and ordered four items from the whiteboard which Lipoff had kindly translated, and was disappointed in all but one, which I found enjoyable but not so much that I'd go back for it, and not more enjoyable than I would expect that dish (meatballs in a clay pot) to be at any other restaurant I frequent.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: KWagle
                        lipoff RE: KWagle Oct 26, 2010 12:40 AM

                        Haha, well to be fair it sounds like we have almost opposite preferences in restaurants within a very rarefied and select group of outstanding Chinese restaurants!

                        1. re: lipoff
                          KWagle RE: lipoff Oct 26, 2010 01:21 AM

                          Heh, yeah, exactly what I was thinking.

                          We seem to agree on who belongs in the top rank, just not the *order* of things. Interesting.

                      2. k
                        Klunco RE: Dave MP Dec 1, 2010 07:41 AM

                        I've been there twice recently and really enjoyed it (Thanks to recommendations from Chow). I like that the atmosphere is nice enough to take some of my friends who aren't really adventurous eaters or hole in the wall type places. Anyway, I've really enjoyed the Numbing Hot Bamboo shoots, the Cheng-du hot dry chicken, and the braised green beans. Everything has had great flavor and spice although last night it was definitely a little greasy compared to the time before. Nevertheless, I am definitely looking forward to exploring more of the menu.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Klunco
                          Jolyon Helterman RE: Klunco Dec 1, 2010 12:09 PM

                          I was a big champion of this place from the time they changed the menu. The last five or six times, however, have been wildly inconsistent---so drastic that I suspect a major discrepancy in cooking chops among the cooks. Recipes seem all over the place.

                        2. s
                          scotty27 RE: Dave MP Dec 20, 2010 07:20 AM

                          This is soooo encouraging! I have to be in Chinatown tonight, pre Lauryn Hill, and could not think of where to go. Since CK left New Shanghai, I have not been back. OK, tonight is the night!

                          New Shanghai Restaurant
                          21 Hudson St, Boston, MA 02111

                          10 Replies
                          1. re: scotty27
                            KWagle RE: scotty27 Dec 20, 2010 11:46 AM

                            Um... it's encouraging that the place was taken over by chefs from Beijing and Sichuan? I love Sichuan food, and these guys do it very well, but I miss having a good Shanghai option in the area (Shanghai Gate is not as traditional as the late lamented WIng's Kitchen, and Uncle Cheung's is just bad.)

                            Hmm, I'm looking at the menu from CK Shanghai, which I assume, based on what their Web site says, is run by the same CK you mention. The only dish I find on there that's recognizably Shanghai to me is the fish in wine sauce--most everything else looks like standard "Chinese" food served to Americans. Do they have a secret menu with Shanghai food on it?

                            1. re: KWagle
                              MC Slim JB RE: KWagle Dec 20, 2010 11:53 AM

                              I think he's just cooking for his audience, Wellesley folks who have no interest in traditional Chinese cuisine. Sad, but he knows where his bread is buttered in that 'burb.


                              1. re: MC Slim JB
                                KWagle RE: MC Slim JB Dec 20, 2010 12:02 PM

                                Hmm, did he cook a different menu at New Shanghai?

                                I have a menu of theirs from a few years ago, but I believe from several years after he left.

                                1. re: KWagle
                                  MC Slim JB RE: KWagle Dec 20, 2010 12:05 PM

                                  My memories of the CK-era New Shanghai are pretty fuzzy now; I vaguely recall it being a mishmash of Shanghainese dishes and Cantonese and HK stuff.


                                  New Shanghai Restaurant
                                  21 Hudson St, Boston, MA 02111

                                  1. re: MC Slim JB
                                    9lives RE: MC Slim JB Dec 20, 2010 03:21 PM

                                    I dug through my menu drawer and found a handful of old menus from New Shanghai. They're not dated but I'm assuming the lowest prices are the older menus.

                                    Not sure which menu corresponds to CK Sau's tenure.

                                    I liked them in the mid 80/90s..they went downhill and I abandoned them for a while and enjoy the most recent incarnation.

                                    1 menu claims to offer Mandarin and Szechuan. Another claims Peking and Szechuan.

                                    Despite the name, I never really thought of New Shanghai as a Shanghainese place; just the name. Wings Cafe next door had a far more comprehensive Shanghainese offering

                                    New Shanghai Restaurant
                                    21 Hudson St, Boston, MA 02111

                              2. re: KWagle
                                cambridgedoctpr RE: KWagle Dec 20, 2010 12:40 PM

                                i eat at CKs regularly; come in on an off night and see if CK is in the kitchen. Then request some authentic Shanghai cooking. I believe that you will be impressed.

                                Of course, once you talk to CK, you can ask for special dishes such as Lion's head.

                                Currently, as MC says; he is cooking food that his audience wants - good chinese american cooking. I do not knock it; he does it well, but i do not want to eat it either.

                                1. re: cambridgedoctpr
                                  lipoff RE: cambridgedoctpr Dec 20, 2010 04:20 PM

                                  On the basis of your advice from other threads, I did exactly that. I went to CK Shanghai on a Thursday night, called a few days ahead and explained that we wanted to try some more authentic dishes that might not be on the menu. The hostess sounded excited, and said she would be happy to ask CK for that.

                                  When we arrived, we ordered the pao4 cai4 (pickled vegetables), liang2 mian4 (cold noodles), and niu2 rou4 jia1 bing3 (beef scallion pancake) from the insert menu, which seemed to have a few more authentic dishes than the regular menu.

                                  The chef made us one pork dish and one beef dish. The manager asked if we liked spicy food, and we said that we did. The pork dish was dou4 fu gan1 rou4 si1 (shredded pork with dried tofu slices) and the beef dish was supposedly some form of a Sichuan beef dish.

                                  The pickled vegetables were totally under marinated and not sliced well. The cold noodles were obviously not house-made, topped with a thick, sweet sauce, and a few scallions and sesame seeds. The beef pancakes didn't look appetizing, but were actually terrific, with a very crispy exterior, chewy interior and deeply flavored beef slices layered inside.

                                  The shredded pork dish was a fine, if unremarkable preparation and a little gloppy. The "sichuan beef" was terrible --- it may not have been on the menu, but it was a 100% Americanized dish, with large pieces of tough beef, a seemingly random assortment of haphazardly chopped vegetables, plenty of corn starch, and not even the merest hint of any spice, except for one lone hot pepper.

                                  I apologize for the poor quality of my photos, but they only reflect the poor quality of the food.

                                  I want to stress that I didn't ask for those dishes in particular. I wasn't expecting a Sichuan dish at a Shanghainese restaurant. I called several days ahead and explained, and left it at the complete discretion of the chef. If I try this again, are there some specific dishes that I should request?

                                  1. re: lipoff
                                    tatsu RE: lipoff Dec 20, 2010 04:48 PM

                                    Wow those dishes do not look good. Here's an early review of his place from the Globe. Maybe it will help. http://www.boston.com/dining/globe_re...

                                    This 1996 article refers to his Sichuan and Beijing styles. Unfortunately it requires a fee to retrieve. http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/boston/ac...

                                    It seems for quite some time, he was the master until Fuloon came along.

                                    Personally, I cannot stand the town of Wellesley so I won't step foot in it.

                                2. re: KWagle
                                  barleywino RE: KWagle Dec 20, 2010 12:47 PM

                                  On weekends CK Shanghai does a decent Northern style dim sum. fried crullers are pretty respectable iirc. soup dumplings not overly juicy.

                                  1. re: KWagle
                                    barleywino RE: KWagle Dec 20, 2010 10:56 PM

                                    KW, if you like fish filet in wine sauce (which used to be very good at CK but is now just a shadow of its former self) try visiting Shanghai Gate during Chinese New Years and check the specials board. Last year at that time they had it as a special with kumquat and lily bulb iirc which was definitely better executed than their standard menu offering along these lines.

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