September 2, 2012
上海小馆 – Shanghai Asian Manor, New York NY
灌汤小笼包 (Steamed Tiny Buns w. Pork)
菜芯狮子头 (Braised Lion’s Head Meat Ball w. Vegetable)
上海粗炒 (Shanghai Lo Mien with Shredded Pork & Shrimp)
鱼香茄子 (Eggplant with Garlic Sauce)
Downtown Manhattan was great, but after a long walk to Chinatown, we were starving again. Originally planning on another restaurant with superb ratings and online reviews, we did not want to wait nearly an hour since it was already past 8 p.m. Thus, we decided on Shanghai Asian Manor, still eating Shanghai cuisine at a restaurant with good but not as many rave reviews.
The 灌汤小笼包 (Steamed Tiny Buns w. Pork) were huge and quite decent. They were also cheap at only $5.50 for 8! Steamed on a bed of sweet napa cabbage leaves – which I quite enjoyed – the little baozi were filled with pork that were not exactly too fat. This meant there was not as much soup inside as I would prefer, but it was still good. The wrappers were not the thinnest but they were not ridiculously thick. The vinegar with ginger was good and it was nice to find such delicacies far away from home.
The 菜芯狮子头 (Braised Lion’s Head Meat Ball w. Vegetable), another traditional Shanghai dish, was quite nice even if it was not exactly authentic. The three meatballs of ground pork were well seasoned and flavoured. It was pan-fried very nicely, with the harder, almost crunchy layer on the outside that was hard to bite and separate while the inside remained moist and juicy. The sauce was also quite flavourful and I loved the bamboo, shiitake mushrooms, and baby bok choy coated in the sauce. The bok choy, especially, was very good since the flavour was soaked into it completely rather than just have the sauce dumped over the vegetables at the last minute.
The 上海粗炒 (Shanghai Lo Mien with Shredded Pork & Shrimp) was quite disappointing. The noodles were somewhat flavourful with the soy sauce taste but it was slightly overcooked; while still holding its shape, it was not exactly firm and chewy. The shiitake mushrooms, shredded cabbage, and baby bok choy were okay, as were the shredded pork. The shrimp were actually quite tender and bouncy but that was the best part of the dish. I expected something a lot better from a Shanghai restaurant since this is one of the most generic, popular Shanghai dishes.
Finally, the 鱼香茄子 (Eggplant with Garlic Sauce) was my favourite of the night. The sauce was no garlic sauce; there was hardly any garlic or chili flavours. However, it had a nice sweet bean sauce-like base so it was rather sweet and savoury at the same time. The eggplants were fried quite nicely, although it was quite a greasy dish. I enjoyed the slightly pan-fried and shriveled black wood ear, and the peppers were also good. The eggplants soaked up quite a lot of flavour, so while not authentic, they were delicious.
I was reasonably happy with this meal in New York’s Chinatown. It is not a myth that Chinatown food do not offer the most authentic, delicious dishes, which is why I was quite satisfied with Shanghai Asian Manor. The price and quality were compatible and while still craving the best Shanghai food, at least I had some decent, regular Chinese food to satisfy my growling stomach.