Occupation: Branding Account Manager
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Shanghai House
Reviewed Shanghai House: Monday, December 23, 2013
I often think about the 3 restaurants I would miss most if I ever moved out of SF, and Shanghai House is always in this conversation. In my most recent visit, we decided to go with a few friends who are also fans. The tendency is to order the same delicious things every time, so it’s nice to have others who have their favorites to mix and match with.
Without even a discussion, we all knew to order the Dry Fried Shrimp: huge shrimps fried in a crispy batter and tossed over a hot pan in a sweet and sour sauce. Next, a Chinese restaurant staple for us- Pea Shoots tossed with garlic. Somewhere in between Chinese broccoli and bok choy, this is a pricier veggie that always satisfied. Slightly bitter and full of flavor. My friends had never had one of my favorite dishes in San Francisco- 8 Precious Noodle Soup. Hearty broth, chewy noodles, shrimp, bok choy, garlic, peanuts, chicken -and so many other ingredients I’m missing- all tossed together into one comforting soup for those cold foggy Richmond nights. My friends were impressed. On my friends’ recommendation, we ordered the Salt & Pepper Pork Knuckle, which sounds awful. I was so wrong; super tender pork, braised or fried (not sure), perfectly seasoned with fried and sugared bits of seaweed. They do run out, so you need to get there early. It reminded me of a Chinese version of deep fried carnitas, except tastier.
The meal was finished off with Pan Fried Xiao Long Bao. I know soup dumplings are plentiful in SF, but this is pan fried and it’s everything you hoped it would be: soup in the dumpling with a nice fried crust on the chewy dough.
I’m sad to write this review to help popularize Shanghai House, but the family who runs Shanghai House deserves their due. Mom runs the front of the house and is always very nice when I ask her what I should order, and Dad cooks everything in the back. Be warned, this is all about the food here- not the service (which isn’t terrible) or the ambiance. Feels like a gourmet meal in an unassuming space.
Occupation: Flight Attendant
Favorite Restaurant: Pinole Creek Café
Reviewed Shanghai House: Sunday, January 5, 2014
The Shanghai House is located in the Richmond District of San Francisco. The restaurant is very small, plain, but clean. When I entered the restaurant I wasn’t greeted by anyone. There was one waitress by the cash register who, when I caught her eye, motioned for me to sit at the table that I was standing by. The waitress wasn’t very friendly, but not mean…just “matter of fact.” She brought 2 menus for me to choose from. One was their regular menu, and the other was their Dim Sum menu. What I wanted was on both. She brought me a pot of tea, a plate, chopsticks, and a mixture of vinegar and pickled ginger. No glass for the tea, nor did she offer water. I had to ask for the tea cup. She apologized and brought the cup right away.
I ordered the Xiao Long Bao, the Dried and Deep Fried Chicken Wings in an awesome garlic sauce and ginger sauce, and to top it off, the Honey Glazed Banana with Sesame. The food came out right away. The Xiao Long Bao was AMAZING!!! Seasoned well, and wrapped well, so that when you picked them up, they didn’t rip apart. For $5 you got ten of them…that could have been a meal in itself. The chicken wings came out shortly afterwards, and they were sizzling hot! I had to wait to eat them because they were so hot, but when I did I was in heaven. The chicken was SO tender and juicy…the crust was so flavorful and very spicy! The waitress, well, she never checked on me, and I had to lock eyes on her for her to come over. I needed a glass of water for the chicken, and also I needed her to box up my food. It took a while to get my water and my boxed up food. Then I had to signal her to bring my dessert, which was scrumptious by the way! Fried bananas with sesame seeds in a honey sauce! Yummy.
I paid $25 for my meal, which could have fed 2 people. The food was excellent and flavorful. Don’t go there if you’re looking for ambiance or a smiling friendly waitress…go there for the food….you won’t be disappointed.
Occupation: Landscape Designer
Favorite Restaurant: Murray Circle
Reviewed Shanghai House: Sunday, December 29, 2013
A friend and I visited Shanghai House on a Sunday evening right before New Year’s. We arrived around 6:30, and before long, the small storefront restaurant was packed with couples and Chinese families with small children. The noise level was high, the lights bright, the decor minimal, the service brusque (to put it mildly), but some of the food was delicious, and the prices are reasonable. There are two menus, one of which lists the Shanghainese specialties. Since Chinese cuisine differs from region to region, I thought it would be best if we ordered from the Shanghai menu.
We had to wait quite a while before our order was taken although tea appeared on the table as soon as we arrived. When my friend spilled a cup of tea, we finally had to ask for it to be mopped up, which it was only partially. Then we had to ask again for another napkin and set of chopsticks.
The appetizers were the highlight of our meal. We shared the Green Onion Pancakes and the Pork Dumplings, both of which were outstanding. The flatbread pancakes were crispy on the bottom, flaky on top, slightly oily, and filled with green onions and other seasonings. They were delicious, and we ate every bit of them. The Xiao Long Bao are fabulous steamed dumplings filled with soup and served with vinegar and shredded ginger.
For entrees, we ordered Beef with Vermicelli and Braised Pork with dry vegetables, both Shanghainese specialties. The beef arrived in a large bowl, still bubbling from the stove. The beef was over-tenderized, the noodles gelatinous, and the sauce so hot it made my friend’s eyes water. My pork dish is apparently an acquired taste: a big bowl of limp, practically raw, and fatty bacon with a brown sauce, with not a vegetable in site. I couldn’t eat it, although no one asked me why not.
We had to ask for the check, which was slammed down on the table along with two fortune cookies. Overall, I would say pass on this one unless you are an expert on Shanghainese cuisine, know what to order and don’t care about service or ambience.