As promised, here’s the menu for Lao Shanghai, one of Tony Hu’s two new Laos (funny because Lao means “old”) in Chinatown. Unlike Lao Beijing, Lao Shanghai’s full menu seems available from the start. Aside from several dozen Shanghaiese specials, LSH also offers the panoply of Chinese restaurant staples. Meaning: if you want your beef with broccoli (our favorite dish from childhood), you can have it for $8.95. But you can also have your beef stir-fried with vegetables and cumin in Xinjiang style for the same price. Similarly, sesame chicken is available for $7.95, but another buck will get you the justly famous dry chili chicken, a cornerstone of all three Lao menus.
If you want to stick with the restaurant’s namesake cuisine, and you probably ought to, there’s nothing more fundamental than an order of Xiao Long Bao, or soup dumplings. When Monica Eng ordered them the other day, she got eight for $6.95 (although our menu says $4.95? *Whatever*) and thought they were…alright. Since they’re full of soup, they explode on contact, and you really need a soup spoon for that. None, damningly, was provided! Furthermore, Eng deemed the soup component of the dumplings to be “ordinary.”
Over in LTH land, G Wiv relates a tale wherein resident XLB expert Pigmon tried the dumplings and was confounded by the paucity of soup inside! This seems to run contrary to Eng’s findings, but anyway, what happened next is telling. Pigmon spoke to Tony Hu himself about the issue, and another round of XLB materialized and was shared between the two. So the theory is, this could right itself through trial and error - exactly as it should be.
Aside from xiao long bao, you may want to consider snazzy-sounding dishes like stir-fried yellow eel Shanghai style ($8.95) or stir-fried rice cake with pork Shanghai style ($6.95). Anyway, like LBJ, Lao Shanghai seems to still be finding its sea legs, but the only thing better than eating a guinea pig is being one! Try to go on a day when Mr. Hu is in residence so you can pester him with your critiques - he doesn’t mind.
Lao Shanghai [MenuPages]
Shanghai soup dumpling search heads to new Lao Sze Chuan [The Stew]
Lao Shanghai [Pictures] [LTHForum]
[Photo: what’s inside a xiao long bao (lynac/flickr)]