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China Blue

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My family had a delicious meal at China Blue. The food and presentation is homestyle and reminds me of being back in Shanghai. The restaurant is spacious, tastefully appointed, with dark wood, subdued hues and lighting.

The restaurant was very peaceful at 5:30pm and progressively became louder and louder, and by 7pm was very noisy. Jazzy music was playing in the background,

Service was friendly and solicitous at 5:30pm. But as diners filed in, service became spotty, harried and scattered. Our waters were refilled sporadically, we chased down waitstaff for tea we ordered. Waiters who looked so crisp at the beginning of the evening, looked overwhelmed. I'm not sure if it's because of the holidays (Christmas day), or if they are understaffed or if it's growing pains, but don't expect attentive service once the restaurant is full.

The food was very, very good.

Drunken chicken had a beautiful texture, silky meat, fragrant.

Kaofu was a solid rendition, much less greasy than many other places.

Shrimp shumai was excellent, chunks of shrimp that were distinct and tender.

We tried both the pork and crab xiao long bao and both were thin skinned, with rich mouthfeel in the broth, very well executed.

Loofah with bean curd puff was perfectly cooked, refreshing and light.

Snow pea shoot was delicious. The snow pea shoot itself was fantastic, really tender with slight crispness and very fresh, but the garlic was a little roughly chopped.

Fermented tofu flavored pork was standout. The texture of the meat was pillowy, smooth, satiny, and full of flavor.

Lion's head with crab was well prepared, the meatball is very soft and there were no complaints but we all prefer red cooked lion's head with Chinese cabbage. Also, it's only one meatball, and not particularly big.

Dongpo pork was standout. Again, the texture was superb, absolutely creamy and very clean, rich pork flavor. It comes with excellent lotus buns and the combination is... for those whose only reference for lotus buns are Momofuku Noodle, China Blue's dongpo rou make's Momofuku's pork belly buns seem like food you'd get out of a vending machine or in coach class on American Airlines. My only complaint is that you should get 4 lotus buns instead of 3, when there is enough meat to generously fill four.

The West Lake vinegar fish was very fresh, the flesh was tender and firm, skillfully prepared. The sauce was a little less gloppy and not as sweet as some of the others, more restrained.

I had some issues with the sesame rice balls, the rice wasn't quite soft enough and didn't have enough chew/glutinous quality. The soup itself was delicious, although a bit too sweet.

The red bean puffs are quite delicious, nuttiness from the coating of black sesame, but the puff is a bit too big and domed. The filling to pastry ratio is a little off.

We ordered they jasmine tea, and it is a bit too bitter, I would not recommend it.

It was very cold today and the restaurant was a comfortable temperature but cool enough where the dishes cooled rather quickly. Many Shanghainese dishes have sauces that congeal when cooled so eating quickly makes the food more enjoyable.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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  1. thank very much for the review. It is really just what this neighborhood needed. I googled it and see that it is in the old Capsouto Freres space. That is an awesome space and great for parking too. That may become a regular spot for me. I can't wait to check it out

    1 Reply
    1. re: foodwhisperer

      It is a beautiful space, they manage to keep it admirably comfortable, albeit cool, considering how cold it is outside and how vaulted the ceilings are. I do wish restaurants in NYC were warmer though, they seem to be cold all year round and it makes food cool down so quickly which is not good at any "family style" restaurant. Since food comes together and there's a lot of sharing and offering of food and waiting for people to get their portion.

    2. nice review, this place is def high on my list of places to try, glad to see a good initial review

      btw momofuku's pork buns, while tasty, are not that amazing in hemisphere of pork buns. its just that they were early in bringing it to mainstream NY (kudos to them for that though). real dongpo rou or gua bao puts momofuku to shame

      19 Replies
      1. re: Lau

        That's what I'm alluding to. I've been in Chinese restaurants where non-Chinese people have referred to lotus buns as "korean buns from Momofuku" or "Momofuku buns". I'm glad David Chang brought them into the mainstream consciousness but Chinese steamed buns/breads have been a staple for over 2,000 years and they've been stuffed with pork belly and other fillings, he didn't "invent" them as is the common internet refrain. Not to meander too far off point... China Blue's version of dong po rou is really phenomenal, very high quality meat, full of flavor, very well prepared and one of the more beautiful, classic preparations.

        "btw momofuku's pork buns, while tasty, are not that amazing in hemisphere of pork buns. its just that they were early in bringing it to mainstream NY (kudos to them for that though). real dongpo rou or gua bao puts momofuku to shame"

        1. re: Pookipichu

          yah i look forward to trying it, i actually haven't had a really good version in a while maybe since the last time i was in asia actually now that i think about it

          1. re: Pookipichu

            <"btw momofuku's pork buns, while tasty, are not that amazing in hemisphere of pork buns. its just that they were early in bringing it to mainstream NY >

            ????

            They've been in Chinatown bakeries forever. Nothing new about them at all! even in New York.

            1. re: ChefJune

              What Lau is referring to is mainstream America. I could see the difference as well in awareness of the buns among non-Chinese. :)

              To be more clear, steamed buns like mantou or lotus buns have been in NY for as long as I remember, but not many non-Chinese knew about them.

              1. re: ChefJune

                well sorta, chinatown bakeries are serving cha siu bao and similar things. they don't serve stuff like gua bao (taiwanese) which is more similar to what chang is serving.

                However, what Pookipichu is saying ive been eating these since i was probably zero years old, but my friends who ive known for since maybe junior high school or high school (so 15+ yrs) only tried these within the last few years (despite my efforts to get them to try something new) and now all of the sudden want me to take them everywhere

                literally when i come home to CA now there is an entire crew who wants me to take them to eat bc they all of the sudden realized this food is really good alot of times it started with a place like momofuku and they're like WTF have i been missing

                1. re: Lau

                  There used to be a Chinese place in Tribeca ( Church near white St.) called Provence, served gua bao. It was a very reasonably priced place. Too bad they closed.
                  Momfuku's I find to be a rip off , high price and not much in them. Ippudo serves a version also.

                  1. re: foodwhisperer

                    Was that the place specializing in buns?

                    1. re: Lau

                      Buns ( maybe 6 different types) and noodle dishes. Self serve. Shared tables.

                      1. re: Lau

                        what is the difference between Mantou buns and gua bao?

                        1. re: foodwhisperer

                          Mantou is simply the steamed white bun

                          Gua bao is a Taiwanese street food where they put stewed pork belly, pickles vegetable, cilantro, ground peanut and this sweet brown powder stuff in it

                          1. re: foodwhisperer

                            Mantou are much more domed, like a bread roll and typically served intact, he ye bao are flatter and usually served like a clam shell for stuffing

                            1. re: Pookipichu

                              Actually fair point there is a difference between mantou and he ye bao although always just refer to both of them as mantou

                              1. re: Pookipichu

                                Thanks but weird that the restaurant Provence, Chinese owned and operated, served the clam shell type but called them mantou buns. But maybe as Lau says,"just refer to both as mantou". perhaps they just refer to them as mantou to make it easier for non-Chinese to understand.

                                1. re: foodwhisperer

                                  Mantou should look like a small head, he ye bao should unfold like a lotus leaf, Chinese is fun like that. ^·^ Fo tiao chiang is a super cute example, soup so delicious, Buddha would leap over a wall to get it.

                                  1. re: foodwhisperer

                                    provence's buns were kinda crap though, i thought that place was mediocre...also i think they were ABCs like me and our chinese is clearly not always perfect haha

                                    1. re: Lau

                                      I don't think Provence was the greatest, but it sure was good to have in the neighborhood. I don't think they were ABC's , at least not all of the people. Some had heavy accents.
                                      I like Pookipichu's description of mantou and he ye bao. As long as we are on things like "unfolding like a lotus leaf". My friend ( who is from Shanghai) describes a green leafy vegetable as "hollow heart", because the stem is hollow. I am always confused between snow pea sprouts and morning glory flowers. I am going to be so wrong in this sounding out of the way I think I hear it pronounced and hoping you can give me the correct way to say it and which vegetable it is. Here we go " Kung tsing tsai" with a raise in pitch on the tsing. LOL again Sorry sorry, but I try.

                                      1. re: foodwhisperer

                                        its called kong xin cai 空心菜 (phonetically it would be kong sheen tsai), i believe its called water spinach in english. its very good when made right

                                        1. re: foodwhisperer

                                          Here you go. 空心菜.
                                          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ipomoea_...

                                          That's your "hollow" vegetable, aka morning glory. This is totally different from pea shoots, wonderful nevertheless.
                                          Although I don't speak the dialect, I suspect a Shanghainese person would say "seen" rather than "tsing".

                                          1. re: foodwhisperer

                                            Romanization is so confusing to me. Zhuyin fuhao makes much more sense. ㄒㄧㄣ (She yi en)

                      2. gorgeous photos...everything looks delicious, but the use of tilt shift makes the portions look tiny. were the dishes larger than they appear here?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: coasts

                          The fish is the largest dish and the dish is about a 16 inch oval. The chicken is in a small oval dish about 6 inches. The xiao long bao and shumai are in a regular steamer, about 8 inches, the snow pea shoot is in a plate about 12 inches, the lion's head, and sesame rice dumplings are in a small casserole about 5 inches. I tried to take photos close up because the display size on CH is really small and sometimes it's hard to see the food. :)

                        2. 五百是china blue 的歌手.

                          Nice photos. Yummy.

                          11 Replies
                          1. re: jonkyo

                            500 is china blue's singer --> what does that mean?

                            1. re: Lau

                              The name china blue extends beyond entertainment and rock.

                              He is a great singer. Love their Taiwanese language cd, came out around 1998 or 99.

                              500 台幣 can buy much delicious 台菜 in 台灣.

                              Where are the owners of China Blue restaurant from.

                              The food looks great.

                              1. re: jonkyo

                                ok so china blue is a taiwanese singer?

                                what does the number 500 have to do with china blue? (the singer or restaurant)

                                1. re: Lau

                                  wu bai is the singer's name:

                                  五百

                                  and 五百 could buy a fair amount of tasty food at China Blue.

                                  I plan on investigating this venue, but spending far less than 500 taiwan dollars (the equivalent) unless I have a large party with me.

                                  1. re: jonkyo

                                    500 taiwan dollars = $16.77 USD...good luck with that

                                    1. re: Lau

                                      Oh, you are correct.

                                      1000 is just over 30 usd.

                                      As I stated 500 台幣 (taiwan dollar) can buy much delicious 台菜 (taiwan food) in 台灣 (taiwan).

                                      That I mean is street vending food, mainly.

                                      五百 (500 dollars) could buy a fair amount of tasty food at China Blue.I did not state 台幣!

                                      1. re: jonkyo

                                        "I plan on investigating this venue, but spending far less than 500 taiwan dollars (the equivalent) unless I have a large party with me." --> no you did say 台幣 specifically

                                2. re: jonkyo

                                  perhaps a bit OT but, I thought the owners were mainlanders, one from Shanghai at least.

                                  though the only reference I can find is this China Daily article:http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/epaper/2...

                                  1. re: avial

                                    They look like they are from Mainland, definitely.

                                    Could be Shanghai.

                                    Thanks for posting the article.

                                    what is 'O T'?

                                    1. re: jonkyo

                                      same owners as Cafe China the sichuan place

                                      1. re: Lau

                                        I hope they do better with China Blue. Cafe China is perfectly adequate - nothing more. Pete Wells' 2 star review was delusional.

                            2. I got to try China Blue. It will take me awhile to try as many dishes as you have. In any case, I knew the space from Capsouto Freres, but they changed the layout a bit. I love that location, it used to seem even more out of the way, but it is still pretty much in an isolated location, in a very old building. I also love that there is very easy parking in the evening . I thought the food was very good. I didn't try much though. I had some crab meat soup dumplings. They were good, although the skins thicker than the ones I like in Queens. The broth was less tasty too and less broth. But it was good.
                              The snow pea sprouts were very good. The "shanghai pan fried noodles" were very good, much like the cantonese version but I think the noodles were thinner.
                              The Wixu spare ribs were excellent. Slightly sweet, but totally fantastic. The meat fell right off the bone. I will get this dish again for sure. Next time I will also try the lamb stew.
                              The waiter recommended their other restaurant which is more Szechuan style.
                              The service was great. The vibe was great.
                              My only complaint was that the place still smells of paint. They need to open some windows and air the place out.

                              1. So I went back. Dong po rou is still amaaaaazing. And better yet, they gave us four lotus buns!

                                But.... they also took away the steamer lid, which they didn't do last time. Freshly steamed lotus buns have a short shelf life, they dry out and cool down quickly. Unless you have four people in your party and are eating them right away, do not let them take the lid away. Secondly, they failed to bring a knife or scissors to cut the string and portion the meat like they did the first time. They really need to work on a SYSTEM and be more consistent. Because by the time they brought over the scissors, the buns had cooled down considerably and they are best when hot and steaming.

                                Tried the red cooked lion's head meatball. It's the same size as the lion's head with crab, less pillowy but the meat is more savory and was very delicious. Comes with Chinese mushroom that are packed with flavor, but some had a gummy texture while others were perfect.

                                San bei chicken was all white meat. It wasn't velveted like at Hakkasan so it was quite firm. The flavor was excellent and I'd consider it one of the healthier dishes because of the white meat. Excellent flavor but I prefer either dark meat or softer, velveted white meat.

                                I'm completely perplexed as to why their service is having so many hiccups, they need someone to help them set up a system, the waitstaff are all very nice and hardworking, I don't know what the issue is.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: Pookipichu

                                  Went again. This time for lunch . I had the pork soup buns this time and they were more flavorful than the crab and pork I had last time. They have a lunch special which gets you a soup and a dish. The chicken corn soup. Usually a favorite of mine at Cantonese places had no chicken in it and too many large pieces of egg to my liking. The shrimp shumai were ok, but were not served with any kind of sauce on the side. Usually I put something on them, I ordered three cup chicken, even though that is a tAiwaneae dish, it was excellent, flavorful and the chicken was juicy. Service was quite slow. I'm not sure what goes on in the kitchen. The staff is very nice though

                                  1. re: foodwhisperer

                                    You have such a good appetite. Big thumbs up to you! :)

                                    1. re: Pookipichu

                                      Hahaha the stomach is starting the enter the restaurant before the rest of me.

                                2. Thanks for the pronunciation, I was close haha. I've eaten what they call water spinach, pea sprouts and morning glory flowers. I guess illl have to order each again, even though i've had them so many times, i can't seem to recall a difference.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: foodwhisperer

                                    i believe water spanish and morning glory are two different names for the same thing (kong xin cai)
                                    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ipomoea_...

                                    pea sprouts are called dou miao. they're different, dou miao is more similar to actual spinach. you definitely notice the hollow stem with kong xin cai.

                                    1. re: Lau

                                      Thanks. I think China Blue and Lake Pavillion have pea sprouts on the menu, but are serving kong xin cai. Hence my confusion.

                                  2. those pics look good...i lived in SH for 8 months in 2008 and while it's not my fav Chinese cuisine, i enjoyed many banquets and homey meals there and i occassionally miss/get-nostalgic-for a dish or two...

                                    However, while i was an early fan of Cafe China, i had an unfortunate experience there about a year ago and i likely can't in good conscience go to the owners' new place...

                                    1. Unfortunately my experience wasn't as good as yours. Service was a big factor. While they were nice, there were quite a bit of issues ranging from hostess to busboys.

                                      There was no wok hay in any of the stir-fried items. The food was also served at lukewarm temperature. This is puzzling, especially since the food comes out randomly. I guess there was a lag in when food was brought out and picked up.

                                      The xiao long bao was good, but the skins had a tendency to stick. I've had better but this was one of the better things we ordered.

                                      The dong po rou was probably the best item of the evening. There were four buns brought out, and yes, they took the cover away. I think there's enough meat for six buns though. I thought it was fine but my companion thought it was too bland.

                                      19 Replies
                                      1. re: Miss Needle

                                        The service is awful, as you noted, they are nice, but the service is slow, scattered, overwhelmed, even when there are not many people. Items come out randomly unless you request a logical order and they will forget items.

                                        I'm sure the lukewarm food is a result of the servers not carrying the food out in a timely manner, which is killer for many of the steamed items and the items with sauces.

                                        As for blandness, I've noted that comment from many people. My caveat is that the flavors are "authentic" Shanghainese. With the popularity of Szechuan cuisine, many people in NY are accustomed to flavors that are saltier, spicier, done with a heavier hand. This is seen even with Cantonese food in NY which in Chinatown is incredibly salty with much msg.

                                        Rather than being bland, the flavors at China Blue are spot on and offers a nuanced approach to Chinese food that is appreciated. The flavors and food are the major thing China Blue has going for it, so I hope the management stays true to the cuisine and doesn't alter things to please people but rather shows them that this is a different style of cooking.

                                        1. re: Pookipichu

                                          Shanghainese food is not and should not be bland (or more muted) than Sichuanese food.

                                          Done properly Shanghainese food should sparkle with the flavors and nuances of the ingredients used - some through the process of long braising (ie red cooking) and others by the use of alcohol or preserved meats/vegetables.

                                          In many ways, Shanghainese food can oftentimes be *more* savory and pungent - what some would say as "salty" - than other styles of Chinese cuisines.

                                          Now, you may say that NYC Sichuan restaurants have bastardized Sichuan food to suit the palate of Americans, but that's very different than saying Shanghainese food is somehow more bland or muted in flavor vis-a-vis it's Sichuan counterparts.

                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                            I didn't say bland or muted, I said more subtle. As in, it's not a plate of chili peppers and garlic and ginger which some NYers have come to associate with Chinese food :)

                                            I did not think China Blue was bland.

                                        2. re: Miss Needle

                                          It's disappointing that they are still having service issues :( I'm sorry you had a bad experience and it's really bad they haven't straightened this out yet. I'm also sorry your food wasn't up to snuff .

                                          1. re: Pookipichu

                                            I was speaking to DH's aunt (who owns a couple of restaurants in Shanghai) about my experience. I don't know much about Shanghainese cuisine but she told me that the Shanghainese cooks don't cook things with as much wok hay as the Cantonese cooks do. That's just the way it is.

                                            I've been to a handful of Shangainese restaurants (maybe about 6-7 or so). With the exception of xiao long bao, I haven't found much that has excited me. I don't know if it's because I haven't had great Shanghainese food or I'm just not that keen on the cuisine.

                                            Nevertheless China Blue did have a few service hiccups, unfortunately, one of which affected the taste of food -- not picking up the food quickly enough so that it reaches my table lukewarm. I am quite a stickler for hot food so it was disappointing.

                                            1. re: Miss Needle

                                              A significant portion of my family is Shanghainese, and from my experience with Shanghainese food in NYC, in my opinion, China Blue's chef prepares it the best.

                                              The food is easily affected by temperature. I agree with you that I had temperature issues with the food as well. The sauces are not pretty when congealed and the steamed dim sum must be moist and fresh. That being said, the flavors are spot on and when the food is hot, it's really great home-style Shanghainese food. It's a shame that service issues bedevil them even 2 months after open.

                                              1. re: Pookipichu

                                                I went to China Blue with a friend from Shanghai. They had steamer problems this day , so some dishes like soup dumplings were unavailable. My friend thought the Lions Head meatball dish was authentic and excellent. He had big issues with the 3 cup chicken ( even though not a Shanghainese dish) that they used white boneless chicken instead of dark meat on the bone. Other dishes were OK. Service was actually good this time. Btw no charge for the 3 cup chicken.

                                          2. re: Miss Needle

                                            The Daily News reviewer weighs in. He is not happy.
                                            ---------------------------------------------------------------
                                            The wheels come off this bus when the entrees arrive. Our server described West Lake Fish in Vinegar Sauce ($22) as typical of Shanghai. But if that's the case, it's one less place we’ll visit. Carelessly plopped next to its grayish body, a forlorn-looking fish head glared at us from its gluey bath of saccharine sauce. Bones of all shapes and sizes nearly make the bass inedible, which may have been a good thing.

                                            Gloppy braised tofu with shrimp ($17), resembling a mashup of mac-and-cheese and brains, went untouched. And chicken stew with tofu puffs ($16) pairs boring brown-sauced poultry with dense, and completely superfluous, fried soy protein. We couldn't tell them apart.

                                            Osmanthus-flavored lotus roots ($12) provides the perfect grace note to a meal here. Of indeterminate color in viscous fluid, the dessert’s more like potatoes in maple syrup. And it epitomizes the lazy, lackluster output of China Blue’s kitchen.
                                            ---------------------------------------------------------------

                                            Full review - http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style...

                                            1. re: Bob Martinez

                                              That Daily News review was such a bad review, and he gave China Blue zero stars. Personally, I think the reviewer was unfair, not very familiar with Shanghai food, he complained about bones in fish, he said something like " if this is Shanghai food I won't ever go to Shanghai". That made me feel he is unfamiliar with the food. I think some wait person pissed him off, or maybe he wanted a free meal and they charged him. I don't think it was an honest review. He didn't try the Lion's head meatball dish which is very good and a "real" Shanghai dish. I give this review little validity

                                              1. re: foodwhisperer

                                                idk if china blue was good or not, but that was a crappy review

                                                1. re: foodwhisperer

                                                  well, all reviewers get free meals -- their employers reimburse their costs -- so that's not a legit comeback.

                                                  the aside about the bones in the fish was kind of strange, though. while I can understand someone not liking a bony fish in this preparation, it's odd that a professional critic would be surprised by the nature of the dish.

                                                  1. re: debinqueens

                                                    You're right about the reimbursement negating my comment on reviewer having to pay. But maybe they dissed him in some way. The review is so bad it seemed personal. Maybe the hostess turned him down for a date. Just saying. Something must've happened. I like the place, service needs to be stepped up , but it's still new. The space is awesome , and I used to frequent Capsouto Freres, which was decent for brunch, nothing special but a nice out of the way place to eat. The old owner still owns the building. I will continue to go to China Blue, I actually bought the Daily News to read the review. I hate that newspaper.

                                                    1. re: foodwhisperer

                                                      It's a datapoint. Other pro critics are going to file their reviews in the coming months and then we'll find out whether his opinion is an outlier or mainstream.

                                                    2. re: debinqueens

                                                      Deb, I'm never surprised any more when I read a "professional" review of a Chinese restaurant in NYC. It's like the equivalent of a reviewer complaining about his sashimi being too raw... of course reviewers seem more likely to educate themselves about Japanese cuisine tho...

                                                      1. re: Pookipichu

                                                        I wouldn't question a review merely because it's out of sync with other opinions I've heard, but this one is rife with outright lack of comprehension of the cuisine. Almost like reading a midtown lunch review.

                                                    3. re: foodwhisperer

                                                      I didn't respond to the review, precisely because it was so ignorant of Shanghainese food. It's a shame, because the food at China Blue is great home style renditions of classic dishes. If he focused on service issues, I'd understand, but the reviewer just displayed an ignorance of the cuisine that was almost like a parody. You hit the nail on the head with west lake fish, the dish by nature is bony. Furthermore their strong dishes and the crowd pleasers that translate well to western palates, wuxi ribs and dong po pork were not tried. The dong po pork and buns were miles better than the vaunted buns at momofuku.

                                                      The review overlooks the strong points of China Blue and paints this skewed picture of the food. While far from perfect, there are some stellar Shanghainese dishes, prepared better than any other I've had in Chinatown.

                                                    4. re: Bob Martinez

                                                      Time Out NY - 3 stars out of 5. They liked it.

                                                      http://www.timeout.com/newyork/restau...

                                                      1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                        Daniel S. Meyer is entitled to his opinion, but his positive review is an outlier. My experience was exactly like the Daily News review.

                                                        1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                          I went to China Blue again. This is my 4th or 5th time.
                                                          The last time was about a month ago. I was greeted cordially upon entering by the hostess who recognized me.
                                                          She told me they changed the dim sum chef. I wasn't sure if that was the "only " chef or they have two. My waiter ( newish Caucasian waiter) said it's the same chef. So not sure what the story is. The Lion's head meatball had the same great taste. Perhaps a bit overpriced at $20.
                                                          The crab xlb are usually not as good as the pork xlb at China Blue. However, this time there was no comparison but this time the crab xlb were excellent, but you only get 4 of them. The pork xlb you get 6, but there was almost no soup in them. The outside skin was thicker than the crab also. I wonder what went wrong . The spare rib on bone in a very sweet sauce was good. The shanghai panfried noodles were heavy on the toppings but light on the crispy noodles. I guess I prefer the Cantonese version that I get most often.
                                                          Two things haven't changed, the space is fantastic. High ceilings, not very noisy, excellent vibe.
                                                          The other is the bad service. If anything it has gotten worse. You sit and are ignored for awhile , until a waiter comes over and apologizes for the wait. Meanwhile , he was just sitting and chatting at the bar. It took ages for the first dish to come out, but the other dishes followed in decent time. Parking is very easy in the evening there. I'm sure i'll be back, but if my xlb's are dry this time, they are being sent back

                                                    5. Wow. I've been looking for a good Shanghainese restaurant, but couldn't find any. It'll take me a while to get down there though.

                                                      Thanks for the great and comprehensive review!

                                                      1. Pookipichu,

                                                        I'm not sure if you've been to Shanghai Cafe in Chinatown/Little Italy, but when you say the pork xiao long bao were delicious, how does China Blue's version compare to Shanghai Cafe's xiao long bao?

                                                        I'm very anxious to eat at CB soon!

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: RogueFoodie

                                                          I've been to Shanghai cafe but I didn't have the xlb there. If Nan Xiang xlb is a 4.5 out of 5, CB is 3.5. Though the soup is very good, there's not a lot of soup and the skin is thicker, but still acceptable and close to Redfarm xlb with RF being a bit better in the skin, more soup, but less delicious soup than CB. Granted I haven't had RF xlb since they started using saffron, and I've only had CB xlb (both crab and pork) one time each. Din tai fung and Nan Xiang set my bar for xlb and it's hard to match.

                                                        2. Interesting slide show of behind the scenes photos:

                                                          http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2014/0...

                                                          1. The menu has changed, they no longer have the fermented tofu pork (which I feel was one of their top 3 strongest dishes)

                                                            Their lunch version of the 3 cup chicken uses dark meat (perhaps their dinner version does too now but I haven't had it)

                                                            It seems like they've been tweaking the menu, recipes and ingredients a bit.

                                                            They have a new steamed pumpkin sticky rice dessert with red bean filling. The disc shaped desserts are lightly sweet and satisfyingly glutinous.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: Pookipichu

                                                              Pumpkin sticky rice (in delivery carton)