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Thursday, May 28, 2009

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In a city with the largest Chinatown on the West Coast and second largest in the nation, how hard it is to stand out with some traditional Chinese food preparations? Cynthia Wong-Chen, co-owner and chef of Shanghai 1930, featured in Taste TV’s newly released book “Sexy Dishes,” took on the challenge. At first, one might have imagined that Cindy’s appearance on the coveted pages was assured solely by her good looks. However, on the night we dined, her prix-fixe 5-course proved that her culinary talent was as good, indeed. After a refreshing Shanghaipolitan – the signature cocktail of the house, Nanking Spring Rolls were crispy and full of flavor, and Neptune Hot and Sour Soup packed a refreshing punch with vinegar and chili added to the broth that contained chopped seafood, tofu and eggs. Crispy Chewy Szechwan Beef in slender slivers lived up to its name, and Fish Pillows were accompanied by thin ribbons of rare tree ear fungi, both black and silver. A crème-brulee dessert, although, hardly having anything to do with Chinese cuisine, was nevertheless smooth and creamy, not at all eggy, with some smoky undertones and a perfect caramel crust on top. Shanghai 1930 makes an effort to maintain the allure of its namesake with the intimate booths and family-style tables in a darkish, underground dining hall, decorated with sparse thematic artifacts, and enlivened with nightly live jazz performances. Catch Kelly Park Trio tonight, or Jeanette Harris Quartet tomorrow. For more information, reservations, and jazz schedule, visit Shanghai 1930 is located in the Embarcadero restaurant row at 133 Steuart Street, SF. Call 415-896-5600. Photography by Yuri Krasov.


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