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Oct 3, 2013 09:12 AM

Sha Bistro - Shanghai / Sichuan, Union City

In the El Mercado mall (Mayflower, Marina Food, New China, Little Shen Yang). Receipt said Shanghai Bistro, no apparent connection with the place of that name in Millbrae, menu seems different.

1773 Decoto Road, Union City

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  1. Went in to get takeout around 7:00, most tables full, I think all the other customers were Chinese. Guy who took my order spoke excellent English so all communication problems were about my inability to pronounce Chinese or discrepancies in the online menu. The printed menu is a huge book so you might want to allow some time to browse it.

    Pork sauteed with pickle and bamboo shoot (酸菜尖笋肉丝, $6): crazy good, never had anything quite like this before. From the picture on the web menu I was expecting a bamboo shoot dish with pork, but this was definitely the other way around.

    Eggplant with garlic sauce ($6), best version of this I’ve had, perfect texture, tender but not mushy, great balance of sweet, spicy, and seasonings.

    Chongqing style spicy fried chicken (bone) (重慶辣子鷄 (有骨)$6.50): great seasonings with a nice level of chile heat and ma la. Saucier and more highly seasoned than Great China’s version.

    Kong xing cai ? which I know as kang kung, stir-fried with garlic: some confusion in ordering this. Is that 炝炒空心菜(炝炒空心菜) from the online menu? It was fine but I prefer the versions with fermented tofu or fermented shrimp. Is that 椒丝腐乳空心菜(椒丝腐乳空心菜)?

    Shanghai style vegetable w/dried bean curd (鷄毛菜百葉 $7): pretty and the pea leaf was good, but the bean curd tasted a bit rancid to me.

    Big portions, low prices, solid value.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      Thanks for the report. Does the menu in the restaurant have pictures?

      There are three items on that menu containing water spinach aka kang kung aka ong choy aka tong choy aka 空心菜. The first one is translated there as spinach with garlic, but the characters specify water spinach with garlic.

      The one you wanted wasn't translated. It's the middle picture with some white bits:
      椒丝腐乳空心菜 : Shredded chili peppers (椒丝), fermented bean curd (腐乳 , not the stinky variety), and water spinach.

      The linked menu is a good one to bookmark--- it's a treasure trove of pictures of Shanghainese and other regional dishes. The vegetable section in particular shows the diverse types of greens, fresh or pickled, that aren't commonly pitched at non-Chinese speakers and/or are just on specials boards.

      1. re: hyperbowler

        The printed menu has pictures. Might be the same content turned into a book with Book Creator or something like that.

    2. That menu really is extensive, and it's not padded with Chinese-American food (the last two dishes are lemon chicken and sweet and sour pork and that's about it). Some interesting dishes.

      Who was it who was looking for Taiwan-style potstickers many moons ago?

      1. I love those restaurants down there, I used to go to Little Potato all the time. What a great menu.

        2 Replies
        1. re: essvee

          Judging from the address, this place replaced Little Potato.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            And more recently, Zhi Wei, a Shanghai style eatery.

        2. Can someone explain "fish gluten" (招牌魚面筋)? Is this actually fried fish mousse and they call it that because the texture is reminiscent of wheat gluten?

          1. Slowly working my way through the menu.

            Fish Fillet in Wine Sauce (糟溜魚片) was really good. Chunks of white fish, mushrooms, and al dente edamame-style soybeans in a delicious sauce. Definitely will be a regular item.

            This time around I noticed that the Eggplant w/Garlic Sauce (魚香茄子) had strips of something aromatic and slightly bitter that I think must be that dried tangerine or orange peel. Helps explain the complexity of the dish.

            Pork Sauteed with Pickle and Bamboo Shoot(酸菜尖笋肉丝), Chongqing Fried Meat w/Vegetables (重慶小炒肉), and some third dish they gave me by mistake instead of what I'd ordered were all good though too similar. One was pretty spicy, the pickle one was not spicy and more sour. All good.

            Salted String Bean w/Pork (幹煸四季豆) was a rather simple and mild version, excellent texture.

            Mapo Tofu (麻婆豆腐) was unlike any I've had before, cubes of tofu in a hot oil sauce seasoned with I think Sichuan peppers, but handled in such a way that it brought out their floral quality more than the ma la. Quite delicate.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              I had some leftover mapo tofu for lunch and I think it's vegetarian or close to it (might be some chicken broth). The few specks I could find in the sauce were scallion and tomato but there are a lot of other flavors.