Shanghai Shanghai serves up heavenly dishes

By Ken Lin Translated by Melanie Hou

Far Eastern Shopping Mall Branch
203, DunHua (TunHua) South Rd., sec. 2, B1 (Far Eastern Shopping Mall)
Tel: (02) 8732-1536
Hours: 11 am- 9:30 pm

SOGO Tun Hua South Road Branch
246, DunHua (TunHua) South Rd., sec. 1, B2
Tel: (02) 87715511

As one might guess from its name, this restaurant specializes in Shangainese cuisine.

Shanghai Shanghai has a bright and cheery, but very upscale, Western-style atmosphere. The tables are covered in crisp white tablecloths and napkins, and are surrounded by comfortable blue high-backed chairs. On the walls are paintings depicting scenes from the days when Shanghai was a rural village. Unlike most Chinese restaurants, Shanghai Shanghai is very quiet. It therefore attracts a wide variety of diners, both local and foreign, young and old, who enjoy good food in refined surroundings.

The professional-looking service staff glide effortlessly among the tables, carrying beautifully prepared dishes. The menu lists a large selection of dishes and includes English and Japanese descriptions. Simply reading it is enough to make your mouth water.

Shanghainese cooking, among six main types of Chinese cuisine, is characteristically sweet and salty. Chef Lee has been preparing Shanghainese dishes for 30 years and insists on keeping to tradition, a big reason why this restaurant has risen to become one of the top restaurants in Taipei in only three years.

I ordered the grilled fish appetizer (NT$100), which was amazingly good. One of the main dishes was crab sauteed with fermented bean paste and served with rice cakes (NT$700). The meat was tender with just the right amount of flavoring. The deep-fried yellow croaker (NT$120) was crispy outside but tender and juicy inside. It was so good I had to keep myself from eating all of it, including the bones.

For those who prefer mild-tasting food, the stir-fried beef with salted vegetables and lima beans (NT$380) is a good choice. The fresh handmade steamed buns (NT$160) are filled with meat in a juicy gravy. The steamed fish dumplings (NT$200) are a representative Shanghainese snack. I especially liked the "candy egg" which is hard boiled in soup stock, leaving the egg yolk soft and sweet in taste. I just kept eating one after the other.

This restaurant's specialty dishes include stir-fried frog (NT$380), salty and sweet "sugar ribs" (NT$80), fried shrimp (NT$460) and braised fish (NT$130). Oolong tea is served free of charge.

After having such a wonderful meal, I only regretted that my stomach was not large enough to hold more. However, I still made room for dessert, red bean pancakes (NT$260).