Sunday, February 28, 2010

Shanghai Cafe

Cheap dinners in Chinatown are great. They leave you satisfied with a full stomach for a low price. There are certain things that you have to give up when dining at places in Chinatown. First, the atmosphere. Yeah, most places look outdated, dingy, dirty, and cramped. Second, the service. The Chinese aren't known for their renowned service. In fact, most people would consider it rude. It's nothing against them. It's just how they operate. This isn't just the case in the US. In fact, it's the way it is in China. No eye contact, no hellos or thank yous. Yeah, it's really all about the food, fast service, and turning tables. I'm used to it because I grew up in that atmosphere. But someone who hasn't may feel alarmed and disgusted. Sorry, but good service at a Chinese restaurant is influence from the West. The only good service that really existed in China back in the day would be for the Emperor and his royalty. The commoners (99% of the rest of population) would indeed be subjected to the so called "rude" service. Don't think of it as rude. Think of it as "authentic". Happy now? And now onto the food. My parents frequented Shanghai Cafe a bunch of times. They liked the soup dumplings here. And it was relatively clean. How could I not try a place that my mom liked? I was there one night with just one thing in mind: Soup Dumplings. Those infamous chewy doughed dumplings, steamed to perfection with a fatty, pork inside and a hot soupy juice. Here's the bowl of vinegar that they give you with the dumplings. You want this kind of vinegar. It's the dark kind. Sour yet slightly sweet. I don't pucker with this one. The dumplings are made to order and you wait for them to steam. Once at the table, you don't want to eat them right away for the steam and the temperature of the dumplings are too hot. You'd surely burn your tongue here. Wait for the steam to subside. Trust me, your tongue and mouth will thank me. One cooled, pick one up with your chopsticks and dunk it into the vinegar (if you like that). Place it into your soup spoon for eating ease. Bite/nibble a bit of the dough. Suck the soup out or take a bigger bite. There's really no correct way to eat it. Though, I found that if you take a small bite first, then the soup doesn't squirt out. You don't want to lose any of that glorious soup. You could eat the whole thing in one bite. But you'd look silly. If you don't care, then go ahead. Beware, whole dumpling eating calls for even more cooling of the dumplings first. And this is what the inside looks like. Meaty, juicy, soupy, fatty goodness. Each steam tray includes 8 dumplings. I can easily eat 8 myself on a night where I'm not very hungry. On a starving night, I could eat double. But that's just me. We ordered 2 trays to share and the bill came out to be $10.80. Not too bad for dinner. Shanghai Cafe 100 Mott St New York, NY 10013 (212) 966-3988

3 comments:

  1. did you see the picture of TGWAE's fried after he put a whole soup dumpling in his mouth? hilarious

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  2. @Steve: Yes I did! Haha! I learned that lesson as a young child.

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  3. oops, meant friend, not fried, but you got the point. ha

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