Don’t Be Shy – Try Shang Hai

Posted by Holly Whitfield | February 9th 2012 2551 0

I've driven past Shang Hai hundreds of times without paying any attention to it. When I did notice it, I sort of wrote it off as another generically sketchy Asian restaurant. Some of these mildly-sketchy looking places are the stuff of local legend – they get praised, talked about and passed around through groups of foodies and friends.

Shang Hai isn't one of those places, but it should be. From the outside, it doesn't look like much – just an angular building sandwiched between an office and a bar with a sign emphatically proclaiming that they serve vegetables.

When I opened the door, I was expecting it to be a little dingy and utilitarian. Instead, it looked like this:

Inside Shangai, Memphis, Tenn.

Every inch of the building is covered in bright greens and reds (even the ceiling). There's a disco ball.

Shang Hai's menu is about ten pages long. It's mostly Chinese food, but there are three pages of Vietnamese and Thai specials towards the back. I ordered the crab and cheese wontons and an order of Masaman curry (I asked the waitress if it or the Tom Yum soup was better, and she steered me towards the curry).

Crab cheese wontons from Shangai, Memphis, Tenn.

The wontons ($6) came out first. There were at least eight of them, and they were huge. They weren't quite what I was expecting, though. Usually, crab and cheese wontons are made with cream cheese. These were made with a kind of stringy, melty cheese. It was good, but it was very different than what I'm used to.

I'm glad I followed the waitress' advice about the Masaman ($9). It was served in a giant bowl like soup, but it came with a big side of rice. It had a ton of chicken, potatoes, onions, water chestnuts and bamboo shoots, and there was plenty left over for lunch today.

Masaman curry from Shanghai, Memphis, Tenn.

Shang Hai is open daily for lunch and dinner, and all of their entrees are a few dollars cheaper at lunch. They accept most cards and are kid and vegetarian friendly.

Go There:

Shang Hai

1400 Poplar Avenue
Memphis, TN 38104-2903
(901) 722-8692


Shang Hai on Urbanspoon

Author: Holly Whitfield

I write about what’s going on with Memphis music, food, arts, events, sports, people, and culture. Memphians love Elvis and barbeque with a passion that must be seen to be believed, but there is so much more to this place.

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  1. Smackie Chan says:

    the masaman (T10) and the red curry coconut soup (T12) are staples for me when i feel i might be getting sick or when i have a sinus headache. i also love their fresh spring rolls because they put mint in them.

  2. robbro says:

    Thai menu in the back is among the best thai in the city! also try the T8, Pad Thai, or BBQ Vietnamese Meatball rolls. If you want chinese go somewhere else, but for home style vietnamese or thai this place is a gem. The recent redecoration was a big let down. Take notice of the wooden Mickey & Minnie over the checkout!

  3. Staci says:

    I'm not sure that they are on the menu, but the 'mini egg rolls' are fantastic! Order them spicy, and you get about 12 miniature egg rolls (with pork), along with a plate full of fresh lettuce and herbs. You should get a large lettuce leaf, add in mint and put the egg roll in it. Make a little paste of spicy sriracha and soy sauce, dip, and eat. You can't go wrong!

  4. janiam says:

    The stuffed chicken wings are really good as is everything I've eaten there. Now I need a fix!

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