Saturday, April 4, 2009

Shanghai Cuisine

This post could have been named alternatively as "Ming Tsai, You Lied!"

I love Ming Tsai's cook book and his restaurant, Blue Ginger, but was extremely disappointed at his pick for best soup dumplings in NY Chinatown published in New York Magazine. It was wishful thinking, really, on my part - I had told my fiance that the soup dumplings from Joe's Shanghai aren't as good compared to the ones I had at Nanxiang in Hong Kong. So when I saw Shanghai Cuisine was Ming's pick, I was hoping that Joe's wasn't the pinnacle of soup dumplings in NY.

We ordered the same dishes - pork & crab soup dumplings and Shanghai pan fried noodles - just so Shanghai Cuisine and Joe's can be compared on the same playing field. There were a few places where Shanghai Cuisine's got it wrong:

  • Appearance - The dumpling skin was lumpy and has little areas of transparency. This is really obvious when you compare the dumplings side by side - below from left to right: Shanghai Cuisine, Joe's Shanghai, Nanxiang.

    • Texture - The tip of the dumpling was especially thick.

    • Taste - The broth was suspiciously sweet, but the filling I did like a tad better than Joe's (probably because it was less porky and I'm a recent pork convert).

    • Temperature - It didn't come piping hot, just warm.

    As for the noodles, it wasn't as good as Joe's. There's a term we use in Chinese called "鍋氣" - it literally translates into "wok air," and roughly translates to the fragrant aroma or flavor made from cooking in a wok. You can taste it when something has been cooked correctly in a hot wok, and Shanghai Cuisine didn't have it. The noodle tasted flavorful, but it was all in the soy sauce. On the other hand, Joe's definitely had it.

    All in all, although it was more comfortable eating in Shanghai Cuisine than Joe's because we had more elbow room and didn't have to share our table, I won't be returning there any time soon. Based on taste alone, I prefer Joe's over Shanghai Cuisine. Maybe my fiance was right when he said "What does Ming Tsai know? He's from Ohio!"

    No comments: