I felt like eating some xiao long bao but I didn't know of any good Shanghainese restaurants around. So, we went to our most trusted source of information, the Chinatown Information Center (yeah, the red colored booth with the golden dragon on top) and asked them to recommend a good Shanghainese restaurant. He told us to check out Shanghai Cafe in Mott St (between Canal and Hester). So, off to Shanghai Cafe we went! :D
It was almost empty (there were only a couple of customers) when we arrive. I guess it was still a little early for dinner. The decor was pretty modern, nice and clean, compared to some of the other Chinatown restaurants. They had this funky looking ambient lights on the ceiling...kinda hip for a Chinese restaurant...hahaha. As I sat down and looked around, I began to remember reading up reviews about this place. They had very high ratings in Yelp, Zagat, Boo Rah and a few other websites. Looks like we made a good choice by coming here!
I remember reading in the reviews that they serve really good Scallion Pancakes ($2.25) so I ordered a piece to try. Yes! The reviews were right, it is good! Unlike most scallion pancakes, this wass light, flaky and the best part, not greasy at all. Very very nice.
Another thing they are popular for is their Xiao Long Bao (steamed pork soup dumplings). It's supposed to be so good that one guy said that he would go in and order 3 portions just for himself. This I gotta try!! We had a choice between the regular Pork Xiao Long Bao ($4.95 for 8 pieces) or their speciality, Crab and Pork Xiao Long Bao ($6.95 for 8 pieces). Since it's their speciality, we decided to go with the Crab and Pork. We knew that it would be good when it was brought out not by our server but by the chef herself!! :P So, were they good? You bet they were! The soup inside was just sooooooo sweet and yummy. There were also large clumps of crab meat inside the dumpling (maybe that's the secret to really sweet soup, lotsa crab?). No wonder that guy orders 3 portion just for himself....I don't blame him at all. I have eaten quite a lot of xiao long bao's in my lifetime and I must say, this is one of the better ones! Two thumbs up!
For our mains, I ordered the Shanghai La Mian Soup with Smoked Fish ($4.95). I was wondering if I made a wrong choice, cause the server asked me if I knew that the fish was served cold. I was like err sure, bring it on :P I was glad I ordered that. I have never tried Shanghai style smoked fish before but I like it! It was sweet (which made the soup sweet too...iLike!) and was smoked with some fermented black beans. The noodles were also good, springy and not too chewy.
Kevin ordered the Shanghai La Mian Soup with Pork Chop ($4.50). They were very generous with the pork chop and it looked pretty good. It was served with regular vegetables as well as some preserved vegetables. I tasted a little of the soup and it was good too!
We ordered bubble tea ($2.95 each) as our drink/dessert. Kevin had Red Apple and I ordered the Passion fruit. I like how they seal the top of cups, so that we can take along with us after our meal. Very good idea :D Overall, we had a great dinner. Affordable good food, at it's best. The only bad thing I can say about Shanghai Cafe is that they do not accept credit cards, so remember to bring cash! I read that their Sticky Rice in Bamboo Leaves as well as their Pan Fried Rice Cakes are really good too. Good, that gives us another reason to return and check them out in the near future!
100 Mott Street,
New York, NY 10013
Tel: (212) 966 3988
Fax: (212) 996 8856