Excellent | Worth a Detour
Review by: Michael Stern
At Shanghai Cafe, it’s all about the noodles, which are hand-shaven daily. You get them in chow mein and in soup, along with beef, shrimp, or chicken, or in concert with pork and mustard greens. Barley green noodles are the house signature dish, unique to this restaurant and to one other in the area, owned by the brother of the man who owns this one.
The green noodles are a lovely sight, all irregularly-shaped, thick in some places, thin in others, their chlorophyll-green hue giving little clue that their flavor is staunch and earthy. They’re a joy to chew, not really al dente, but not the least bit mushy, either. Noodles are the thing to eat in this place, where nearly an entire page of the menu is devoted to them.
Beyond noodles, the menu is huge, featuring a panoply of Chinese-American fare from familiar dishes such as pork fried rice and egg rolls to jellyfish with cucumber, sauteed sugar pea vine, and bamboo fungus.
We love crunchy dry sauteed string beans with their ginger-garlic glaze and crumbles of ground pork; and we’ll be ordering more big, beautiful, well-spiced kung pao shrimp. Hot and sour soup packs breathtaking zest. General Tso’s chicken is going to make you happy only if you like it so sweet that it verges on candy. Ditto orange beef, which has wonderful crunch but so much sugary sauce that the beef flavor itself gets smothered.
Located in a shopping center, Shanghai Cafe has the warm, hospitable feel of a family-run enterprise that has become very much a part of local life in the Factoria neighborhood.
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