East Bay View (a blog about several things)

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Saturday, May 12, 2007

Think globally, eat locally: Shanghai Restaurant

Xiaolongbao
Sizzling rice soup
$15


One of the many things for which I'll be eternally grateful to my ex-girlfriend is introducing me to this establishment, and to the xiaolongbao (henceforth XLB). I'd never been back there without her, since the English of the staff there is nearly as limited as my Chinese. But finally my desire for those not-quite-dumplings got the better of me, and after a quick memorisation of the characters for "little basket buns" -- more foolproof than learning to pronounce them -- I headed to the restaurant.

I don't know much about Shanghainese food (other than stinky tofu, which I wasn't in the mood for), so after some attempted dialogue and restrained gesturing, the hostess and I agreed on the sizzling rice soup, which I think is the sort of dish my ex wouldn't let me order. The brief attention I got from the next table when my besweatered server crackled and popped the rice squares into my broth was nice, but it was my second shrimp soup of the day, and the one I made was better. But the XLBs, hidden away on one of the three menus as "steamed buns", more than made up for it. The goal is to make the wraps so that they fall apart in your mouth, not burst between your chopsticks, and this was achieved admirably. Inside, the soup was agreeably meaty and the pork was agreeably sweet. All they needed was a quick dip into some sour soy sauce to put me in XLB heaven.

I've had other good stuff here on previous visits -- I think I recall a nice hot and sour soup -- but it's the XLBs that make the place. Note, though, I've never them from anywhere else so can't compare (unlike this guy). Still, this dish is the best (and possibly only) evidence that it's not impossible to find good Chinese food near campus.

Shanghai Restaurant
2517 Durant #D @ Telegraph, Berkeley

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1 Comments:

  • At 5:30 AM, Blogger athousandmilesthinking said…

    Ah... XLB heaven, I have been visiting its pearly gates with alarming regularity, given my pork intolerance, but being in China there's no excuse not to. Having a whole trough-full of them in the Shanghai Old Town really sealed the deal. At my regular they're so big you have to take them in two bites: the first from the top, but so well constructed that the dumpling inside and the soup stay amply cupped in the wrapper with hardly a drop of spillage. mmm... xiaolongbao...

     

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