After dim sum at Elite on Saturday we returned to the San Gabriel Valley for dinner on Sunday, this time to Shanghai #1 Seafood Village in Alhambra. This is a relatively recently opened place that has received very strong reviews and as we don’t have any Shanghainese restaurants in Minnesota (that I know of, at any rate) we wanted to try it. It sits in the same location as a previous Shanghainese restaurant, Green Village (though significantly expanded and refurbished) in the huge strip mall at 250 W. Valley Blvd.
The restaurant, which is divided into a number of dining rooms seems very elegant and luxurious as you enter, with lots of dark panelling and red and green satin. But as you sit down in a bright dining room it all begins to look somewhat tacky. This kind of decor in a fusion restaurant aimed at non-Chinese diners would doubtless be described as kitschy and attract derision, but in this context some of the reviewers have seen fit to describe it as an elegant throwback to the aesthetic of 1930s Shanghai restaurants and clubs. Well, whatever.
The menu is similarly ridiculous. It is colossal and glossy and heavy, with all the dishes attractively photographed. It’s so big, however, that it is somewhat hard to keep track of what you want to order as you go through it. I’m not suggesting that they have fewer dishes, just that the menu as object might offer greater ease of use. The food, however, is the only thing that we were here to eat and I am pleased to report that it was quite good. Click on a thumbnail to launch a slideshow with larger images and captions (caveat: these are not always the exact names of the dishes).
What we ate (I don’t remember the exact names of everything):
A fine meal, on the whole, though it would have been good to have had one dish with more assertive flavours. And certainly a far superior meal than any we ever ate at Green Village.
However, when it comes to the service they seem haunted by the ghosts of the previous establishment (or perhaps it is owned by the same people): if you’ve missed Green Village’s wonderful combination of sullen neglect and capricious order filling then Shanghai #1 Seafood Village will especially delight. Our head waiter was grumpy and impatient; he refused to let us order only one of the stewed crabmeat and share it (insisting that there was a two order minimum, which, of course makes no sense); when we asked if we could get a glass of milk for the boys he insisted they had no milk in the restaurant (an embarrassed younger waiter overheard and brought us a large glass); one of the things we ordered did not arrive, and when we asked about it at the end the guy first refused to believe we hadn’t received everything and then claimed they didn’t have it after all. Well, at least they didn’t try to charge us for it.
Still, we liked the food enough to want to go back and try more. Not sure if we’ll make it in the next two weeks, but if not, certainly when I’m back in August. They are apparently also very good for dim sum, when the kitchen is staffed by an entirely different team, but at this point I think our dim sum options runneth over.