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Shai Lai Chowdown Report - Sept. 17th, 2013 [San Francisco]

mmerino Sep 17, 2013 02:49 PM

Shai Lai is in the old Mayflower resto on Geary @ 27th with the
"Chinese-ified" facade, across from the coming soon Grocery Outlet(yay!).

There are four menus. One is the big dinner menu, one is a small specials dinner menu, one is a Jook/Noodle menu and lastly the Dim Sum menu that you tick off for yourself. No carts.

Starting from the cheap side of the dim sum menu. we had:
$2.50
Black Mushroom Shumai
$3.20
Taro Bun
Baked BBQ Pork Turnover
Deep Fried Taro Dumpling
Shanghai Dumpling
Bean Curd Skin Roll
$3.85
Har Gao
Bitter Melon Chicken Noodle Roll
Baked Durian Turnover
$5.50
Steamed Beef Tripe
Pan Fried Duck Chin w/MAGIC Sauce
BBQ Pork
Roast Duck
Fried Pumpkin w/Salt Egg Yolk
Shrimp Stuffed Eggplant

Off the Jook/Noodle Menu
Fried Oyster Pancake
Mixed Mushroom Noodle

I didn't love anything. My highlights were the noodles which were those fun, rolled-up, stir fried type with lots of varieties of mushrooms, almost roast beef like slices, green beans & green onion.

I also, surprisingly, liked the Taro Bun-Im not a huge Taro fan but this was delicate and sweet almost with a vanilla hint.

The Tripe was good too. I wish it would have had more green onion/chili heat.

BBQ pork was nice. The fat was really yummy on it.

Durian turnover was pretty tasty too. i wish I had eaten it last.

The rest was forgettable, if not criminal. Oyster Pancake was dry & gross, Shanghai Dumplings were mushy & I got the no-soup-dud-dumpling. The Fried Pumpkin had no yolk flavor and was super greasy. I couldn't even eat a small piece, it was a sad waste of food.

Walking through the resto, to feed the meter, I noticed a lot of lobster dishes, both noodles & stir fries. I'd do a lobster dish next time.

At the end it was $16.50pp for a table of nine. The consensus at the table seemed to be that Shai Lai Seafood is more of a dinner place and not for dim sum.

  1. Melanie Wong Sep 19, 2013 04:41 PM

    Thanks all for showing up in force and especially to MMerino and Cynsa for filling in the deets. As I went over the list of dishes, I was surprised at how many I missed. How unlike me to be that distracted by our wide-ranging convo. Any way, my impressions:

    Black Mushroom Shumai - didn't try, noticed that these were roe-topped, but even peering into the just delivered steamer, they looked dried out on top.

    Taro Bun - very good filling, bread could be lighter, but certainly above average.

    Baked BBQ Pork Turnover - good filling, pretty flaky crust

    Deep Fried Taro Dumpling - didn't try

    Shanghai Dumpling - didn't try

    Bean Curd Skin Roll - decent, not as good as the late Gold Mountain's, but really no better than the take-out version at Wing Lee.

    Har Gao - didn't try

    Bitter Melon Chicken Noodle Roll - not much chicken, but I did like the finely sliced almost julienne-like bitter melon barely cooked to preserve the crunch (and not develop so much bitter), don't remember what the rice wrapper was like nor any saucing

    Baked Durian Turnover - one of the top dishes, sfogliatelle-like many layered crackly pastry, filled with a very rich and smooth custard and decidedly durian flavored.

    Steamed Beef Tripe - big portion, clean, book tripe cut as wide as papardelle, needed an extra dunk in the dipping sauce, would order again

    Pan Fried Duck Chin w/MAGIC Sauce - lots of tasty bits of fried garlic and scallions, but undercooked and edible portions did not pull off easily

    BBQ Pork - moderately fatty, sweet glazed style, good effort

    Roast Duck - below average, warmed over skin texture, slopped onto the plate, too much unrendered fat, good flavor

    Fried Pumpkin w/Salt Egg Yolk - fried well, not tasty

    Shrimp Stuffed Eggplant - too greasy and clunky

    Fried Oyster Pancake - overcooked and dry

    Mixed Mushroom and Beef Sauteed Rice Noodle - most well-received dish

    And thanks for picking up Mom's share. I was a little late to lunch because she declared that she was not hungry and did not want to eat or pay for any lunch. Appreciate the favor, and maybe we'll see her at another chowdown.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Melanie Wong
      Cynsa Sep 19, 2013 06:27 PM

      We all love chowing with your mom - she can always be our Honored Guest at every table with us - we count ourselves very fortunate to chow with her, Melanie.
      Apologies to mom for the twice-upturned-tea-cups at her place setting when the dishes on the edge of the lazy susan knocked her tea cup and mine to soak the table. Now she knows that we're just barbarians.

    2. t
      Thomas Nash Sep 17, 2013 05:44 PM

      Nice joining everyone at a new restaurant.

      Headline, OK if you are in the neighborhood and starved.

      Details

      Black Mushroom Shumai
      average, didn't detect the mushrooms.

      Taro Bun
      a sweetish- end of meal option, nice but not as good as the durian turnover

      Baked BBQ Pork Turnover
      missed trying this. looked pretty standard

      Deep Fried Taro Dumpling
      fresh and crisp, decent version

      Shanghai Dumpling
      I got a good one. Tasty, lots of soup. One of the better ones I have had recently, but not at Cooking Papa level -- and 5000 miles from Taipei.

      Bean Curd Skin Roll
      very standard, not particularly flavorful.

      Har Gao
      decent amount of shrimp, fairly standard decent version.

      Bitter Melon Chicken Noodle Roll
      noodles seemed reasonably freshly made, but some how this whole thing didn't go together like the amazing version at cooking papa

      Baked Durian Turnover
      one of the best versions of this I have had for a while. nice flaky pastry, good durian flavor.

      Steamed Beef Tripe
      not very special for me

      Pan Fried Duck Chin w/MAGIC Sauce
      no magic, lots of Magi, not worth the trouble.

      BBQ Pork
      OK

      Roast Duck
      very nice roast duck, one of my favorite dishes of the meal.

      Fried Pumpkin w/Salt Egg Yolk
      as described, couldn't detect the salted egg yolk. amazing how so many mediocre places copy the successful dishes of other places (in this case this is a Hakka standout). reminds me of how the coffee ribs are all over the place now.

      Shrimp Stuffed Eggplant
      huge pieces and hard to divide. otherwise fairly standard

      Fried Oyster Pancake
      terrible, an omelette, over cooked, not a pancake. fishy tasting oysters. this is a classic Taipei dish and this was really nothing like any decent version.

      Mixed Mushroom Noodle
      rolled up noodles. very flavorful, beef was tender and permeated the whole bowl. quite good.

      1. Cynsa Sep 17, 2013 04:06 PM

        photo match-up here; thanks to Melanie for the organizing and to the 'hounds for good company and risk-taking on an untried venue.

         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
        1 Reply
        1. re: Cynsa
          a
          alfairfax Sep 17, 2013 05:10 PM

          I agree with comments by mmerino and cynsa but would add only that as with Chowhound meals in past, the fine company made up for some disappointing dishes. I would return to Shai Lai if they were going to be there again.

        2. Cynsa Sep 17, 2013 03:27 PM

          Table's favorite was our last dish: rolled noodle, mushrooms, green beans, green onion, beef brisket. I would return to Shai Lai Restaurant for this dish.
          Note that it's a full-house on Tuesday at noon.

           
          2 Replies
          1. re: Cynsa
            mmerino Sep 17, 2013 04:05 PM

            Agreed!

            1. re: Cynsa
              Melanie Wong Sep 19, 2013 05:32 PM

              I'll note that this dish was ordered from the lunch specials/jook/noodle menu card on the table. It's $15, which is on the high side, but it was a huge serving. I ordered this as a final dish after our lunch seemed to be without any winners, and I thought something from the noodle menu would give us another perspective on the kitchen's talents. The beef part seemed like brisket to me that had been braised or steamed with seasonings, then cut into thickish slices and sauteed.

              As a follow-up, I reheated the leftovers of this dish for lunch today giving me a chance to revisit it. Unlike other places, the rice noodle rolls did not have any wok hay or scorch marks. While tasty enough, this doesn't seem as flavorful as I pegged it on Tuesday. I doubt that it lost much in the mean time. Instead I suspect that we were so happy to find something we could get into eating that we overrated this dish.

              Still, the non-dim sum menu might be the strength at Shai Lai Seafood.

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