Shanghai Dumpling King
3319 Balboa Street
(between 34th Ave & 35th Ave)
San Francisco, CA 94121
One of the Chronicle’s listed bargain bites, I had to go check this out for myself, since not all of those items on the list are cheap enough for my tastes. Conclusion? Very darn good. Four people, 5-6 dishes, $10 each.
We ordered their signature steamed dumplings, some special potsticker-shaped dumpling in hot oil, a lion’s head meatball soup, some fried sweet bread with evaporated milk dip, a fried rice cake dish, and then another type of ball (looked like cooked mochi) in spicy oil.
Variety: Excellent. Unlike chain pasta companies that figure out how to boil several varieties of pasta and lather on whatever sauces onto them, this place had dumplings with character. Different shapes and fillings abounded. Take heed, though, this is not a place for someone on a low-carb diet.
Quantity: Ok. We ordered a lot of dishes mainly because our original order of 3 plates for 4 people was insufficient. For $4.95 for 10 steamed dumplings, you have a pretty good meal for one. So the dumplings are very tasty and fragile, but they are small. The fried rice cake dish did not have a lot of meat in it, tasted great because it soaked up whatever animal fats were in the wok beforehand, and was on a large oval plate but it was not heaping. The spicy dumplings in hot oil were tasty as well, but not as spicy for our Asian (and ABM Louisianan) tastebuds preferred.
Tip: One waitress kept floating by the tables, offering what looked like fresh cream puffs. Take note, nothing in a Chinese restaurant is free. If it were, you’d better believe the owner would be publicizing that. So, this woman came by at least 3 times to our tables, offering these cream puffs. We politely declined…but saw some of the Caucasian patrons take her up on her offer. Heh heh…we figured that went on their bills immediately. If not, let me know and I’ll stand corrected.
Interesting: In the Vegetables section of the menu, we saw a line item for “Jalapeno with -something- and pork.” Sounded like a fine dish, ‘cept for the pork.
MSG Factor: Present. Tea was refilled often at our table, and I was able to start feeling that tingling, thirsty feeling in my mouth by the time we left.
Bathroom: Ok – but about 15-20 degrees colder than the rest of the restaurant. I think there was an open window covered by a curtain, that was letting the cold air in, in lieu of a fan. Cleanliness was ok…the bathroom doubles as a storage room for some restaurant chairs and other miscellaneous items.