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Lunch Today at Shanghai Bun Matawan

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After my last attempt to have lunch at Shanghai bun and my disappointment due to it being closed when I got there because it was a Monday......Today I had business in the area and made it a point to get over there to try some of the dishes I read so much about and I am glad I did.
I was greeted by the owner who asked if this was my first time ....I said yes and she suggested I use the " Chinese menu" vs the American one which has many more of their authentic Taiwanese/Shanghai style items on it........I was given a small plate of roasted peanuts first off nice touch......after perusing the choices I said to my self WOW!! I will have to come back here many time to try some of these interesting looking items. As it was just lunch I ordered the Spicy Beef Noodle Soup, & the famous Steamed pork Soup Dumplings which I never had before.
The Soup came out ion a huge bowl simmering with chunks of stewed meat & home made noodles.....specks of hot pepper throughout and a baby bok choy on top...you could tell these soups were cooking for a while as the flavors are deep and complex within them, the noodles have a great density & texture also but remain light Yummmmy! The came the bamboo steamer with these beautiful looking dumplings I heard so much about...also came with a shredded ginger/ soy/ vinegar dipping sauce......I placed one ion my mouth whole when I pierced the outer walls of these perfectly pinched pouches I was rewarded with a burst of glutenous yummmy liquid soupy goodness I had never tasted before followed by the pork filling, I also drizzled some of the home made Fire Oil that was on the table on each one too ; ).....Oh man Sooooooo Gooooood !!
Needless to say I devoured them ALL one after the other leaving me wanting when there was none left. I WILL be back !!

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Shanghai Bun Restaurant
952 State Route 34 Ste 6, Matawan, NJ 07747

 
 
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  1. Tapas - I'm so jealous. Did you finish both the whole bowl of soup and the dumplings. If so, that was quite an achievement. As opposed to your whole dumpling in mouth approach, I put a dumpling on the spoon with a little bit of vinegar, take a bite and suck out the broth. From there I finish the dumpling in one or two bites. As they come out hot, I would fear burning my mouth by shoving the whole thing in. BTW, I too enjoyed an excellent bowl of soup this afternoon. The equally good duck soup at Siam Spice.

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    Siam Spice
    1174 Fischer Blvd, Toms River, NJ 08753

    38 Replies
    1. re: bgut1

      bgut1....honestly I had to leave about 1/4 of the soup as I was stuffed the bowl is a meal in itself ...I so wanted to try so many other things and wished I had more people with me so we could order many more dishes to sample also.....but I will be back for sure. As for the soup dumplings I kept trying to figure out how they get the soup inside :- ) ???

      1. re: Tapas52

        Tapas, YouTube has a few videos that shows you how it's done.

        1. re: Check17

          check 17 .......gonna check it out now thanx...I Knew there was something to eating them !

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MIx4oG...

        2. re: Tapas52

          Glad you finally got to try SHB Tapas...the only thing better than SHB by yourself (which I frequently do) is to go with a party and order as many dishes as you can handle - but I think you picked the right 2 dishes to start with.

          The soup in the dumpling is basically super-gelatinous stock mixed with filling that is partially frozen. Genius!

          Here are some of my other SHB favorites in case you're interested:
          Fried fish w bean sauce (IMO the best non noodle/dumpling item on the menu)
          Ja Jang Mein (I believe it's called noodles with pork and bean paste or something on the menu)
          String beans with pork
          taiwanese mei fun
          Beef sandwich
          Sliced cold tendon app
          Fried chicken
          One dish i've never had but i see Chinese people get all the time are the fried pork chops.

          You'll also find that they do a superior version of almost any normal Chinese takeout dish. Stuff like fried rice, regular lo mein, or general tso chicken are also excellent here. Overall this place is simply unbeatable for the money.

          BTW, the soup dumpling eating method Bgut described is the standard method as shown in your video...but I prefer to just pick it up by hand and pop the whole thing in my mouth (after letting it cool a bit)...I think it tastes so much better when you get all that juice exploding in your mouth at once rather than nibbling on it on a spoon. Oh god now I want some.

          1. re: joonjoon

            joonjoon....Dining alone I'm used to, I do rather enjoy having friends and good company with me to share my experiences as I always do with my good friend Equal Mark & other CH'ers .Thank you for all the suggestions they have been noted for my next visit when I'm in the area, wish I was a bit closer ; ( Now I also know how they get the liquid inside the dumplings also brilliant !! ; ) The one shot method does give you the complete experience for sure....but you have to wait a bit for cooling first as I learned the hard way .. lol.......Between SHB, Nemos, & Kimchi Hana my all my Asian needs are filled when I'm up North.. can't wait to return !

            1. re: Tapas52

              Tapas, put a little of the ginger sauce on the large spoon, carefully put a XLB on the spoon, and then take a small bite from the bottom of the dumpling, and suck out the soup....amazing....and then, eat the rest of the dumpling...incredible.

              Our favs at SB include their scallion pancake, their Singapore Mei Fun (phenominal), their Salt and Pepper fish is to die for. Also, their house special Won Ton soup is out of this world...this all said, I can go to SB and have two orders of the XLB and that's good enough for me.

              1. re: sockster

                XLB? Xylophone Liver Beignet?

                1. re: equal_Mark

                  XLB = Xiao Long Bao = 小籠包 = soup dumpling

                  1. re: Bossa_Nova

                    =Mark....you know better than that!!! XLB...if you're in the area, Crown Palace serves makes them to order during Dim Sum Saturday and Sunday. They call them Shanghai Dumplings...not nearly Shanghai Bun quality, but much closer for me.

                    -----
                    Shanghai Bun Restaurant
                    952 State Route 34 Ste 6, Matawan, NJ 07747

                    Crown Palace
                    1285 State Route 35, Middletown, NJ 07748

                    1. re: sockster

                      Am headed there soon and wanted to clear up whether I can expect to be faced with autotuned liver donuts...

                      1. re: sockster

                        Been going to Crown Palace dim sum for nearly 20 years and have never seen XLB. Will definitely be ordering some next time I'm there. Thanks for the heads up.

                        -----
                        Crown Palace
                        1285 State Route 35, Middletown, NJ 07748

                        1. re: jsfein

                          Remember, you have to ask the waiters to make you "Shanghai Dumplings". They're $2.95 for 3.

                          1. re: sockster

                            sockster...Are Shanghai Dumplings different then the soup dumplings above in some way?...

                            1. re: Tapas52

                              Whoa, I never knew Crown has XLBs either...I will try ordering next time!

                              By the way, I was in LA this week with friends and went to a highly rated shanghainese restaurant. We ordered our 3 standbys from SHB: XLB, spicy beef noodle soup, and fried rice. SHB's dishes were right up there with their stuff, and actually the noodles from SHB were superior, and we also preferred SHB's XLB.

                              I gotta say, this place can hold its own anywhere.

                              1. re: joonjoon

                                Equal_ Mark & myself dined there this evening my second time, place was packed....everything was excellent, Spicy Soup Dumplings Outstanding !...Salt & Pepper Fish was sooooo good with that light batter yum,..The Beef Sandwich was amazing, Scallion Pancake light, crisp and tasty, & a hugh bowl of Spicy Beef Noodle Soup....so many dishes to try , must return again & again.

                                1. re: Tapas52

                                  Shanghai Bun Menu:

                                  http://www.exit109.com/~mstevens/Take...

                                  First half is the menu for the Chinese ex pats that make up 80% of the clientele. Second half seems to be for the Anglos that still think it is a Chinese American chow mein & eggroll place.

                                  Beef sandwich was an unexpected treat as I've never experienced a sandwich at an Asian restaurant other than bahn mi at a Vietnamese place. This was like a small bahn mi slider on a thin sesame seed bun. Nicely spiced!

                                  Xylophone liver donuts (Steamed Pork Buns on the menu) are excellent. Recommend the one gulp method after adding the vinegar/ginger sauce once the dumplings have cooled a bit...

                                  1. re: Tapas52

                                    One more must try, are the pan fried buns- similar to the XLB, but fried crispy with sesame seeds on the outside...yum!!

                                    1. re: sockster

                                      Do you think the pan fried buns would tolerate a 20 minute drive for takeout better than the soup dumplings?

                                      1. re: equal_Mark

                                        (I'd eat them in the car)!! But to answer your question, yes...as there's no soup in them. After going to SB for years, we noticed them on the table next to ours last time...so of course I had to order them. What a great place!! And you're right, the beef sandwhich is amazing.....make sure you try the Singapore Mei Fun...one of the best versions I've ever had...including China!!

                                        1. re: sockster

                                          One thing I would like is the option of purchasing the noodle soups in half orders. I know it is essentially a meal in a bowl, but there are so many other choices I'd like to try. At any rate I suppose I can't complain about having a whole meals worth left over and stashed in my fridge.

                                          Did a CH search on Shanghai Bun and was rather startled at the number of negative reviews.

                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/362273

                                          I also notices lot of online complaints about the service (aloof/rude hostess, problems with dishes and utensils not being provided) on Yelp and such places.

                                          They seem to have cleaned up their act as far as the furnishings and cleanliness, but I'd have to think many of the service problems are just communication issues by a busy staff working hard to serve their (largely Chinese) regular patrons.

                                          -----
                                          Shanghai Bun Restaurant
                                          952 State Route 34 Ste 6, Matawan, NJ 07747

                                2. re: Tapas52

                                  Actually the owner told me they make them- They're on the Chinese menu all the time....instead of actual XLB.

                                  1. re: sockster

                                    I asked for the Shanghai Dumpling you suggested but the waiter didn't know what I meant?..

                                    1. re: Tapas52

                                      Ask one of the managers, they absolutely know what they are....

                                      1. re: sockster

                                        Went back last night again.......got the Shanghai buns but wasn't very impressed as they were more like a Chinese "Char Siu Bao" you would get in china town....bigger and more doughier...but the pork filling was tasteless on its own had to be dipping in the Sauce...we also ordered the Peking Pork which was just ok & nothing compared to Ming Ling in LB....So fo now I'm 50/50 on Shanghai bun....with many more dishes to try hopefully my feeling will change for the better.

                              2. re: jsfein

                                Dim sum dishes are Cantonese, soup dumplings are from Shanghai. Usually better to try them (especially the first time) in a Shanghainese place.

                                1. re: buttertart

                                  Dim Sum just means small dishes in Chinese so it doesn't have to be Cantonese.
                                  Cantonese Dim Sum are served in restaurants like Sunny Palace and Crown Palace. The staples of cantonese dim sum are the small shrimp dumplings (with the clear wrapper) and pork dumplings (yellow wrapper) and beef tripe, etc.
                                  Shanghai Buns and Shanghai Park (Highland park and Princetion) serves northern Chinese style dim sum such as Xiao Long Bao, beef sandwich, and that pan fried version of Xiao Long Bao...etc.

                                  One of the few things I enjoy in Shanghai Bun is the Soy Milk. I especially like the salty version (vs. the sweet one) in which they put a dash of vinegar and some pickled vegetable in there. It's different what you expect Soy Milk taste like but very yummy and authentic.

                                  -----
                                  Shanghai Park
                                  239 Raritan Ave, Highland Park, NJ 08904

                                  Shanghai Bun Restaurant
                                  952 State Route 34 Ste 6, Matawan, NJ 07747

                                  1. re: yCf

                                    "Xiao cai" or "xiao chi" means small dishes (eats) in (Mandarin) Chinese.

                                    "Dim sum" when written as "dim sum" is usually taken to be the Cantonese items as it's a transliteration of the Cantonese pronunciation.

                                    As I'm sure you know, it literally means "touch the heart" as in these things will touch your heart, really get to you.

                                    I am very familiar with northern dian xin as well - but Shanghai is only north in relation to Guangzhou, it's in southeastern China and is not normally considered northern.

                                    Xiaolong bao are not part of the Cantonese tradition so going to a "dim sum" place and ordering them as is suggested here is probably not the best way to encounter them.

                                    Do they have doufu nao? fresh doufu with soy, preserved veg, etc? That I would really make my Matawan friends take me there to get.

                                    1. re: buttertart

                                      haha, i see. Point well taken. As you can guess already, I was posting with a southern china perspective.

                                      1. re: yCf

                                        Just have a big interest in Shanghai and Jiangsu food in general, myself!

                                        1. re: buttertart

                                          Does anyone know where I can eat real Traditional Szechuan style cooking in central or south Jersey?

                                          1. re: Tapas52

                                            Hey Tapas, the closest place I know of are both in the Edison area: Sichuan Spring and Dragon Palace. The mala from the sichuan peppercorns still freak me out but I do love the food. The best sichuan I've had in NJ was up in Cedar Grove though, at ChengDu 1.

                                            BTW if you're looking for other goodies to try at SHB, go for an order of Ja Jang Mein (noodles in bean & pork sauce) and their fish w/ bean sauce. Both are excellent. :)

                                            -----
                                            Dragon Palace
                                            1635 Oak Tree Rd, Edison, NJ 08820

                                            1. re: Tapas52

                                              I keep trying to go to Sichuan Spring, but they appear to be closed on Mondays. If you go, let us know what you think. I'll second joon's mention of Dragon Palace.

                                              1. re: MGZ

                                                Sichuan Spring and Dragon Palace.....which is better and why?...... and thanks for the menu suggestions at SB.

                                                1. re: Tapas52

                                                  I seem to remember lamb with cumin being very good at Dragon Palace and some spicy sauteed green bean dish. The dish with the sichuan peppercorns was good at Sichuan Spring (lamb with fresh hot pepper, I think). Love that opium-lip feeling. If you're a fan of ma po tofu a sichuan place would be the right place to order it.

                                                  1. re: chuck98

                                                    Nice description there, chuck98!

                                                  2. re: Tapas52

                                                    Oh, there's also Szechuan Ace on Rt 27 Somerset, but I haven't been there yet.

                                                    1. re: Tapas52

                                                      I can't offer a comparison between the two due to the fact that Sichuan Spring has been closed when we have tried to go there. A somewhat annoying but unavoidable consequence of them not having hours available anywhere online or any type of telephone answering recording. The menu looks terrific though.

                                                      As to Dragon Palace, the most enjoyable dish I know the name of was boiled beef in chile oil. I've enjoyed everything I've tasted there, but some of the dishes I've eaten were the consequences of me pointing at the plates of others and asking about the food. The waiter invariably nodded his head, muttered something including the phrase "very spicy," and was met with a thumbs up from me. A multi-peppered prawn dish stands out in my memory.

                                                      1. re: MGZ

                                                        According to the menu I picked up at lunch today, the hours are
                                                        Mon-Thur 11:30 am - 10:00 pm
                                                        Fri-Sun 11:30 am - 11:00 pm

                    2. Back to the original topic.....going to SB for late dinner tonight...can't wait for spicy noodle soup and of course, XLB!!!!

                      31 Replies
                      1. re: sockster

                        Just back....light as air scallion pancake....fantastic spicy beef noodle soup....and of course XLB. Bill for 2= $14.95...Just wonderful....as always!!!

                        1. re: sockster

                          It's my neighborhood place. joonjoon and I are going there Friday for my birthday. Fifteen people - no "American" dishes, and mayhem. We'll report back what we ordered, as I think we'll let the owner pick at least five dishes for us.

                          1. re: aacharya

                            Can't wait to read about it!

                            1. re: buttertart

                              Was watching an episode of No Reservations recently where Bourdain was in Shanghai. The first dish they tried were soup dumplings! The lady he was with warned him to let them cool first. The second dish were fried soup dumplings...

                              1. re: equal_Mark

                                Love them. Best I've had lately were at the Old Shanghai restaurant at Mott and Bayard in Manhattan last Saturday. The skins were properly thin (like 1/16" thick, you can see from the pleat in this photo). As good as ones I had in Shanghai at a famous place, actually.

                                 
                                1. re: buttertart

                                  I really have to get to this place. I'm literally 5 minutes away. Next time I do my Shop Rite/Stop & Shop/Livoti's loop, I'll have to add SB to the list for a quick bite.

                                  1. re: Jerzeegirl

                                    We have friends in Matawan and my main problem is that he's a great cook, so I feel schmucky saying I'd really like to go eat at this place! I hope the upcoming review will provide some ammo.

                                    1. re: buttertart

                                      Jerzeegirl and buttertart - You need to get over to SB. I crave the spicy beef noodle soup, soup dumplings and beef sandwich.

                                      1. re: bgut1

                                        I'm always on the lookout for good scallion pancakes & cold sesame noodles. I'm off next Friday, so I'm planning on trying the SB version for lunch.

                                        1. re: Jerzeegirl

                                          JG ask for the "Chinese menu" try the Soup Dumplings and Beef Sandwich YUM!

                                          1. re: Tapas52

                                            Yeah, the accepted etiquette seems to be to grab a menu, circle what you want and give it back to them. If you just walk in and sit down you risk delayed service...

                                            1. re: equal_Mark

                                              Thanks for the tips, everybody. The grabbing a menu & circling what you want reminds me of the local Chinese restaurant we went to when I was a kid up in Irvington.

                                              1. re: equal_Mark

                                                I would also add to help your self to the beverages located in the small fridge to the right. Just tell them what you had when you pay the bill. At least this is what I've always done. :)

                                                1. re: bgut1

                                                  Can you BYOB?

                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                    Yup, liquor store next door as well.

                                                    1. re: joonjoon

                                                      Excellent!

                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                        More and more when we go I have been eating the rice cakes or noodles with spicy bean paste or shrimp with hot sauce noodles. I wonder how long it will take me to try the entire menu? ;o)

                                                        1. re: seal

                                                          Make sure you try the salt and pepper fish!! Amazing!

                                                          1. re: sockster

                                                            I actually had to be in the area today, so I stopped in & got the noodles with hot peanut sauce. Just like the hot version of my fave cold sesame noodles. They're delicious, but I'm not sure I like them hot, so right now they're chilling in the fridge & I'll attack them later. I'm definitely going back to try other stuff. I was there at a little after 12 noon & the place was packed.

                                                          2. re: seal

                                                            seal - Any new faves? I must admit it is hard to try something new as I don't want to regret no ordering my favorites. I guess that is reason enough to go with a big group and order a whole mess of dishes. :)

                                                            1. re: bgut1

                                                              We just went with a group of 18 and got a ton of new dishes. Some of my new faves:

                                                              Mapo Tofu - still not up to the level of some sichuan joints but much improved. They tweaked their recipe on this one for the better.
                                                              Sichuan chicken - delicious dry-fryed style chicken with the right amount of heat.
                                                              Eggplant with pork - gooey eggplant in a delicious sauce with bits of pork.
                                                              Beef + hot pepper / beef with chives - two new stir fry dishes we tried, both were excellent.

                                                              Some old faves we got:
                                                              Soup dumplings
                                                              "Meatloaf" or "Meatballs"... can't remember
                                                              Salt & pepper shrimp/fish
                                                              Fish in bean sauce
                                                              Noodles & pork in bean sauce
                                                              Beef & Beef tendon
                                                              Beef sandwiches
                                                              Yang zhou fried rice

                                                              The only "miss" of the evening was the oxtail noodle soup. Not much going on and the oxtail was a bit tough...

                                                              IMO this might be the best Chinese restaurant in NJ when you factor in the price. Including tip it came out to 16 bucks a person.

                                                              1. re: joonjoon

                                                                I come here usually at least once a week for lunch. Figured I'd share my favorites:

                                                                Braised Chicken - Deliscious!

                                                                Mixed Beef Intestine Soup - Thinly sliced intestine and tripe in a noodle soup. Love this.

                                                                Of course the soup dumplings are incredible.

                                                                Beef sandwiches are also a hit.

                                                                Triple Meat Soup

                                                                I have to say, I tried the peanut butter noodles and I thought it was too peanutbuttery.... if that makes any sense.

                                                                Shrimp in Chili Gravy Noodles - I didnt enjoy this since the "gravy" tasted like ketchup.

                                                                Beef & Beef Tendon - I get this almost everytime as my app

                                                                Beef & Jelly Fish - Just your standard app, nothing spectacular but if you like this dish you will enjoy it here as well.

                                                                Today I think I am going to try either the Fried Tofu & Fish Fillet or the Szechuan Chicken. I'll report back later!

                                                                1. re: cleverwon

                                                                  Sichuan Chicken was awesome...give it a try!

                                                                  1. re: joonjoon

                                                                    I ended up going with the tofu and vegetable noodles which was really good. You get the sponginess of the tofu contrasting with the crispy brocoli, and the sauce is good.

                                                                    joonjoon - yes i think that is def going to be my next order!

                                                                    1. re: cleverwon

                                                                      i love their beef and beef tendon. i mix the spiracha with the hot oil sauce they have in the jars on the table, so good.

                                                                      1. re: nlin79

                                                                        > i mix the spiracha with the hot oil sauce they have in the jars on the table

                                                                        This is genius.

                                                                        1. re: joonjoon

                                                                          I think you mean "Siracha" Hot Chili Sauce?....

                                                                           
                                                                          1. re: Tapas52

                                                                            The Hot Chill Sauce is made in the good O USA, have a bottle at home.

                                    2. re: equal_Mark

                                      Headed to SHB for dinner tonite. While poking around the net on related topics I came across the video of Tony Bourdain's encounter with Soup Dumplings...

                                      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SenvN3...

                                      Expect to bring home a container of the Shredded Beef & Hot Pepper Noodle Soup to tide me over through this cold weather...

                                      1. re: equal_Mark

                                        nice video reference....make sure you ask for the soup broth on the side.

                                        1. re: equal_Mark

                                          It was all Delicious,....so were the Spicy Seafood Wontons,
                                          Hot & Pepper Beef, and Fish Fillets with Spicy Bean Sauce Mark & I devoured it all without a trace!!! Soooo Good!

                              2. Isn't there any other food at Shanghai Bun? This was our fourth visit. Once again my husband ordered the spicy beef noodle soup! He is addicted!! Since I don't like spicy he forced himself to finish it all!
                                We also ordered XLB, and a really good noodle dish. It was American brocolli, bean curd and noodles perfect for me! We also ordered bok choy with mushrooms. Of course it was way far too much and we had leftovers. We really enjoy this place, but he keeps saying next time he will order something different....!

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: EL7

                                  Where exactly on 34 is Shanghai Bun located? Could someone provide me with a landmark?

                                  1. re: newfie29

                                    In the Dunkin Donuts plaza one block south of where Route 79 crosses Route 34.

                                    1. re: eleeper

                                      Thanks very much - I don't know how I missed it! Dying to try those soup dumplings...