One of the regular "cafeterias" for my family, but haven't been there since I returned in April. Came on a Saturday night for dinner.
Recently renovated (about a year ago), the dining area is still comfortable, spacious and decor is more modernized. Service is still good as usual.
For 4 people we ordered:
1. Green onion pancakes Well pan-fried, very crisp yet oil is drained off pretty well, doesn't feel too greasy in the mouth. Thickness is perfect - not a mouthful of dough yet not wafer thin.
2. Deep fried "Foul-smelling" (Chau) Tofu ($90) Fresh off the fryer! Soft spongy interior, well-bodied exterior. Pungent smell that is really only foul to those who cannot appreciate it! Dipping sauce that it is served with (sweet and thick, quite like hoisin sauce) pairs with it very well.
3. Dan dan noodles Unfortunately this was not for sharing, my brother had it to himself. Cannot comment. But apparently it was not spicy, and meat sauce is just so-so.
We oredered a special Four person set that was priced at $788 for citibank cardholders which consisted of the following
1. Appetizers: Jellyfish, Pork terrine gelatin, Kou Fu (spiced wheat gluten) The usuals. My favorite is the wheat gluten, which is served hot here (some Shanghainese restaurants serve it cold), with woodear fungus, shitake mushrooms, edamame and the surprise: peanuts.
2. Shark's fin with chicken floss Soup is quite thick, especially enjoyed the chicken floss which was so unexpectedly tender yet a good amount of shark's fin is used.
3. Kung pao crystal shrimp I think this was the best entree of the set - shrimp is piping hot, freshly fried, with a very delicate "crystal", slightly crisp layer. The sauce is sweet and tangy, with a hint of spice too yet it's not as thick as the Cantonese sweet and sour sauce. Shrimp itself is very fresh and the way it's been cooked makes it coil up nicely and has that "darn nga" - a springy bite to it that is always perfected with a Chinese wok. I recommend stirring the sauce with white jasmine rice.
4. Hairy crab stir fried with rice cakes and edamame Thick, dark and savory stir fry sauce. Rice cakes are quite dainty and thin, nice and chewy, good with the edamame which offers a slight solid bite and contrasting flavor to it. 2 hairy crabs are served in halves - the crabs are fresh with a good amount of crab roe (the orange cholesterol)
5. Bean curd sheets with leafy vegetables in broth Very mild-tasting broth, slightly sweetened by the soy element of the bean curd sheets. Leafy vegetables are like bok choy but different. Good in-between entrees.
6. Crisp chicken in wine I don't know what this dish is called in Chinese, but I can describe that the skin is semi crisp yet I am pretty sure it is not fried - definitely involves some oil brushed on the surface during the cooking process resulting in its golden brown skin. It is marinated in wine yet the alcohol flavor is merely subtle, not overwhelming.
7. Small dumplings in wine with chrysanthemum (Jau Yeung Yun Ji) Dime-sized glutinous rice (mochi) balls in a very light and sweet broth with chrysanthemum flowers, a very refreshing end to a satisfying Shanghainese dinner.
To end the meal I also separately (not on the 4-person set menu) Souffle balls with banana and mashed red bean paste ($68) Six deep-fried souffle balls. Traditionally it's with red bean paste but here a piece of banana is smeared with a bit of red bean paste. The texture of the souffle balls is soft and pillowy, the way I remember it to be from childhood. Served with icing sugar and syrup (I suspect it's Taikoo golden syrup, available at your local grocer) which is needed for the otherwise unsweetened skin. The skin is so nicely eggy (as it is after all made with egg white) and it doesn't feel very greasy. My only complaint is that the red bean paste is quite inadequate - while banana pairs with the red bean and the souffle skin well, more red bean would increase the overall taste of this dessert.
The 4 person set is such a BARGAIN! Plus the quality is not compromised, everything is prepared well - even the dishes which I don't personally like. Total for 4 people came to $1400 - for the amount of food we ordered and given its very good quality I do think this is a good deal, very reasonable.
A very promising Shanghainese restaurant that is authentic yet still modernized to suit the less adventurous.