Don’t Be Shy – Try Shang Hai
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:
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).
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.
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.