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Open XLB Kitchen at Shanghai Heping on Mott St.

Chandavkl Mar 27, 2012 10:46 AM

Shanghai Heping has opened recently on Mott St. at the former site of the Dining Room Management Group and its successor Yong Gi, which actually served some of the more innovative Cantonese food in Chinatown. In any event we have another Shanghai style restaurant two doors up from Shanghai Cafe so there should be no waiting for XLB around there any more. Shanghai Heping has an open XLB kitchen at the very front of the restaurant, and unlike Din Tai Fung, there isn't any glass window separating the public from the xiao long bao making. Unfortunately the restaurant wasn't particularly busy when I went by and the XLB makers were standing there twiddling their thumbs. Shanghai Heping is at 104 Mott St.

  1. p
    pravit Sep 4, 2012 04:21 PM

    I feel like I never really know what to order in Shanghainese places. I eat a lot of Sichuanese and Hunanese food, and I enjoy the Cantonese fare that can be had around C-town, but apart from xiaolongbao and shengjianbao I'm always at a total loss in Shanghai places. I have been to this place twice and really want to like it as I live a block away, but I've only ever enjoyed the bao. I tried the tofu skin fish and perhaps it's just not for me but I found it rather bland and uninteresting - sort of like fish and chips but not as savory. I tried the Shanghai niangao (rice cakes) which were OK but nothing special. I also didn't see doumiao on the menu though I did ask for it and the waitress seemed hesitant, recommending me xiaobaicai instead (I speak fluent Mandarin so I don't think communication was the issue).

    It could be that I just don't like Shanghainese food that much. I did have a cui pi yu (sweet and sour crispy fish) once at Old Shanghai (why that place has such an abysmal Yelp rating I don't understand) and bai ye rou (stewed pork w tofu knots) which were very good, though my wife doesn't like fatty meat very much which rules it out along with dong po rou and other delicacies. I also once had a gelatinous pork knuckle at Shanghai Asian Manor which neither of us liked.

    Are there any other representative Shanghainese dishes I should be trying before giving up on it?

    10 Replies
    1. re: pravit
      s
      swannee Sep 4, 2012 04:42 PM

      Mao dou bai ye due cai is essential. Also something with huang yu. Hongshao shizi tou (lions' heads). Eel with yellow chives. Smoked fish. I like cu mien, but no one does them "rough" enough for my taste.

      1. re: swannee
        p
        Pan Sep 5, 2012 11:21 PM

        Can you please give translations of all the Chinese names? And by the way, are you writing transliterations of Mandarin or Shanghainese?

        1. re: Pan
          s
          swannee Sep 6, 2012 02:39 PM

          To Pan's question: I was giving mandarin names, since the writer said he was fluent. Man dou etc. is Edamame with bean curd sheets and pickled vegetable (snow vegetable, xue cai). huang yu is yellow fish. Shanghai fried noodles are called cu mien which means rough noodles or crude noodles and they should have lots of texture, but often do not. Some Shanghai specialities are rarely done well, i.e. the smoked fish, but it's quite good at Shanghai Heping, better I think than their soup dumplings.

          1. re: swannee
            buttertart Sep 6, 2012 02:41 PM

            Xue cai mao dou bai ye (rou si) is the usual way it's said. Mao dou, hairy beans, soybeans.

            1. re: buttertart
              s
              swannee Sep 6, 2012 02:49 PM

              Sorry I wrote man dou for Mao dou (also due cai for xue cai). I have an awful time with my IPad.

              1. re: swannee
                buttertart Sep 6, 2012 02:52 PM

                Those dang mod cons. Apple doesn't like you to write in Pinyin, I've noticed.

            2. re: swannee
              p
              Pan Sep 6, 2012 10:56 PM

              I like Shanghainese smoked fish. Thanks.

        2. re: pravit
          a
          avial Sep 7, 2012 03:18 PM

          for me, Shanghainese food is about sweet and sour meats and savory/umami as a 3rd category
          other shanghainese essentials:
          dong po rou (braised, glazed pork belly)
          cong you mian (oiled noodles)
          tang cu pai gou (sugar+vinegar riblets, way better than sweet/sour pork)
          kao fu (tofu curd, mushrooms, braised in soy sauce served cold)
          bai ye - things with bean curd skin
          lion's head meatballs
          XLB
          SJB
          tang yuan - sweet rice ball in soup
          assortment of rice cake dishes
          assortment of thick noodle dishes

          and if you can find it, meatballs inside a fried tofu skin, can't remember the name

          1. re: avial
            p
            Pan Sep 7, 2012 07:29 PM

            Kao fu is wheat gluten, in my experience, not tofu curd.

            1. re: Pan
              a
              avial Sep 8, 2012 01:45 AM

              most definitely, I never learned what it was, just ate a lot of it, to the point that my grandma would dry it out herself and have it ready for my mom to take back to the US every couple of years when we visited.

        3. Polecat Sep 3, 2012 06:37 PM

          Returned here for a second meal earlier today. The fried tiny buns are decent, on the dry side but with good pork innards and an excellent sauce, which I poured in from the top to make more moist. The wild card of tonight's small dinner was the tofu skins with preserved vegetables and green beans. You can also get this with shredded pork - both versions can be found listed under house specialties. It had a real nice, light touch, and understanded flavor from the preserved greens that made for a nice counterpart with other dishes, such as the addictive cha chiang mien, which have bolder flavors. We really liked this.

          This place is still fighting for some foot traffic with other, better known neighbours, but it definitely deserves more customers.

          P.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Polecat
            buttertart Sep 4, 2012 06:01 AM

            The tofu skin dish is the nec plus ultra of Shanghai cuisine and theirs is the best I've had in the city.

          2. buttertart Aug 12, 2012 05:03 PM

            Lunch there yesterday -- they have renovated and taken out the dian xin kitchen in the front, who knows why. Food was very, very good. Their shredded chicken with yellow leeks was actually shredded, unlike the sloppier versions around town. So many Shanghainese possibilities and even more Sichuanese these days...so wonderful.

             
            10 Replies
            1. re: buttertart
              Polecat Aug 12, 2012 08:35 PM

              Forgot to mention that, based on your recommendation, we had and loved the shrimp with snow peas a few weeks back. It's one of the best Chinese dishes I've had all year. Excellent. These guys do a nice version of Ja Ja Mian (sp?) as well ("noodles in brown sauce" on the menu). We've actually gotten more used to the Korean version, which is tons heavier. This was lighter, maybe a tad sweeter, nice al dente noodles, really good overall flavor. We made haste of it.

              These guys deserve more attention.

              P.

              1. re: Polecat
                buttertart Aug 13, 2012 06:02 AM

                Yes they do. Their tofu skin with snow veg, soybeans, and pork is the best in the citty.
                Glad you liked the dish, it doesn't get more Shanghainese than that.
                BTW a big party of tourists from Spain were intrigued by the tofu skin fish and ordered it too. Scarfed it down in no time flat.

                1. re: Polecat
                  t
                  tazerowe Sep 4, 2012 05:47 AM

                  Question on the shrimp: is it with snow peas or pea shoots, and what is it called on the menu? I was there over the weekend and couldn't find it on the menu, so I asked. They ultimately agreed to make a dish with shrimp and snow peas, and it was fine, but didn't seem to know what I wanted.

                  BTW, my thought echo the rest here, this place is solid and the people are nice. Now, based on the steamed and fried tiny buns, I might prefer the food at Nice Green Bo just slightly, but there is more to try here.

                  1. re: tazerowe
                    buttertart Sep 4, 2012 06:04 AM

                    Pea shoots. Say doh meow with a falling intonation on the first and rising on the second.

                    1. re: buttertart
                      buttertart Sep 4, 2012 10:15 AM

                      http://translate.google.com/#en/zh-CN...

                      Hit the speaker thing to hear the tones properly.

                      1. re: buttertart
                        howdini Sep 4, 2012 05:21 PM

                        You rock...please post more often!

                        1. re: howdini
                          buttertart Sep 4, 2012 05:53 PM

                          Thanks! Would that time allowed!

                      2. re: buttertart
                        t
                        tazerowe Sep 7, 2012 06:47 AM

                        Thanks, but I still don't see it on the online menus and couldn't find it there. Is it under specials?

                        1. re: tazerowe
                          buttertart Sep 7, 2012 03:29 PM

                          We may end up there this weekend, if so I'll check and quote chapter and verse.

                      3. re: tazerowe
                        Polecat Sep 4, 2012 06:23 AM

                        I believe it's listed as "shrimp with pea shoots" on the menu.
                        P.

                  2. buttertart Jun 18, 2012 04:47 PM

                    We had lunch there yesterdayand the food is better than ever. The stewed pork belly casserole with chestnuts is fabulous, the sheng jian bao as good as remembered, the doumiao with shrimp great, and that fish in tofu skin is just mindblowingly good (the two of us put ourselves around a whole platter -- this pic shows it after 1 pc had been snatched up). Go. Very nice people, too.

                     
                     
                     
                     
                    1 Reply
                    1. re: buttertart
                      l
                      Liquid Sky Jun 20, 2012 08:37 AM

                      Thanks, you guys!!! As someone who LOVED Shanghai Cafe (especially their XLB and tsa jiang mein), I was really disappointed in my last trip there. Everything tasted sub-par and they were much ruder than they used to be... victim of their own success?

                      I'm also one of the people who doesn't like Din Tai Fung's XLB at all... bland taste. I prefer soupier dumplings with thicker skin. Hopefully Shanghai Heping will bring it!

                    2. buttertart May 1, 2012 05:15 PM

                      We had lunch here a couple of weeks ago and loved the shengjian bao (FULL of soup), the fish in tofu skin (a really particular brittle crispness, delicious), and the tofu skin with xuelihong and mao dou. The xlb (pork) were OK, but the skins were a bit too thick. Check it out, very good and they're offering (or were) 20% off as a grand opening special.

                       
                       
                       
                       
                       
                      9 Replies
                      1. re: buttertart
                        buttertart May 1, 2012 05:18 PM

                        The goods...

                         
                         
                         
                        1. re: buttertart
                          k
                          kathryn May 1, 2012 05:24 PM

                          Do you think the sheng jian bao are better than 456's version?

                          1. re: kathryn
                            scoopG May 2, 2012 02:16 PM

                            I can't attest to their sheng jian bao but their XLB were not too bad. I don't remember the skins being too thick but then again, I had already eaten! It was possible to sip the soup out as many of the tops presented a small hole. While the menu has many Shanghai favorites (Kao Fu, Smoked Fish, Wine Chicken, Dong Po Pork) and there are 22 lunch specials starting at $4.95 there is also a smattering of American-Chinese stalwarts.

                             
                             
                             
                             
                            1. re: scoopG
                              c oliver Sep 6, 2012 03:06 PM

                              Sounds terrific. We really need a trip to NYC. I'd like to check this place out. BTW, hi :)

                              1. re: c oliver
                                scoopG Sep 6, 2012 03:14 PM

                                Welcome back!

                                1. re: c oliver
                                  f
                                  fourunder Sep 7, 2012 10:10 PM

                                  Yes, welcome back......

                              2. re: kathryn
                                scoopG May 4, 2012 03:02 PM

                                I'd say their sheng jian bao are better than 456! Nice and juicy as buttertart notes with a crispy bottom. Also you have to make sure to ask for their special lunch menu as they just hand you the regular dinner menu. The 20% off to remain in place until further notice.

                                 
                                1. re: scoopG
                                  buttertart May 6, 2012 12:52 PM

                                  The special lunch menu is kefan? Or smaller portions of the dinner dishes?

                                  1. re: buttertart
                                    scoopG May 6, 2012 02:08 PM

                                    Not sure - huge plate of rice with ample (but not overly generous) portion of protein and vegies. No soup but still only $4.95

                          2. squid kun Mar 29, 2012 12:40 AM

                            I've noticed this place too but haven't yet tried it and can't report on the food. How were the dumplings?

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: squid kun
                              c
                              Chandavkl Mar 29, 2012 09:59 AM

                              I'm not a conoisseur of XLB. Not as good as Din Tai Fung, better than Joe's Shanghai.

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