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Saturday, March 31, 2007

Green Village Shanghai Restaurant

My Uncle Wash and Aunt Pizza are here visiting from Manila. They are in LA for two days before going on their 3-month vacation around the US. They will be back to stay with us for a week in June before wrapping up their vacation and heading home.

Last night, my Uncle was invited by a group of his high school friends for dinner and Jojo, Jules and I tagged along. We drove almost an hour to Rowland Heights for an authentic Shanghai-nese dinner. The restaurant was called Green Village and was located on a new and upscale strip mall that housed several other Asian eateries.

The best way to describe the dinner would be to call it interesting. I’ve grown up eating Chinese food in Manila and here in the States. But most of my experience with Chinese cuisine has been the Cantonese, Hunan and fusion Filipino-Chinese and American-Chinese variety. Shanghai cuisine is quite new to me and though the ingredients were familiar, the presentation and cooking style was rather unorthodox.

Dinner started with several small plates of appetizers – a braised tofu dish that was made to resemble beef, roasted to a crsip squab which was glazed with a plum sauce, a pork ham hock that was covered in gelatin, chopped tofu and a parsley like vegetable, and sautéed celery stalks. We then had a soup that was served in a huge tureen – with a whole chicken inside – the chicken was chopped into pieces by our server and revealed shark’s fin inside. The soup was very tasty and was my hubby’s favorite dish of the night.

We then had a dish of stir-fried shrimps, scallops, red peppers and pearl onions surrounded by spinach. This was my favorite dish. The shrimps and scallops were super fresh - and almost sweet and the onions gave it a lot of flavor. Although it was stir-fried, the dish was not too oily – unlike most Chinese dishes. The presentation was beautiful too. This was followed by black mushrooms and baby bok choy in a whitish-colored sauce and topped with shredded scallops. It was very flavorful and I enjoyed this dish a lot as well.

Next came a huge platter of Dungeness crab in an egg sauce – it’s sort of like an egg-drop soup base over fried crab. Good but a little on the salty side. I told my hubby he was not missing that much since he is allergic to crabs. We then had sea cucumbers steamed and covered in a brownish sauce – that can only be described as Chinese gravy. Of all the dishes that night – this was my least favorite! Sea cucumbers look like giant slugs and taste just as slimy as they look. It was like eating giant lips – and I only managed a bite before discreetly transferring my share to Jojo’s plate. If you don't believe me, click on this link to see this slimy dish!

Our next dish was a curried lobster which was Jules’ favorite dish. It was really good but really spicy too. We were told the lobsters were fresh and flown in from Maine. The restaurant’s owner (Andy) was a personal friend of my uncle’s friend and prepared this dish especially for us – it was not in the restaurant’s actual menu. After the lobster we had red snapper with a soy-based sauce with lots of fresh scallions and ginger on top. I did not have any of this dish since I was getting full and am not a big fan of fish.

Our second to the last dish was a house specialty, a roasted and then deep fried whole duck with tasty glutinous rice in the center. Although we were all full by this time, our host told us we would be missing a lot by not trying this dish since it was the house specialty. He was right – the duck was crispy and flavorful while the rice was steaming hot and super savory. They also served this with steamed and fried buns –which were super good too.

Last dish of the night was two kinds of dumplings (shao long pao) – there were two varieties. There were meat-filled dumplings (round shaped) and vegetable-filled (crescent shaped) with the hot soup tucked inside the dumpling wrapper. It came with a black vinegar dipping sauce that added a really good kick to the dumplings. I was only able to try the vegetarian ones which were great (similar to Din Tai Fung’s - which I've featured in my blog before), I was too full to try the meat variety. For dessert, we had peanut balls in rice dough (my childhood favorite – we called them tsong wan ni back home) in a sweet rice soup. Yummy but honestly at this point (believe it or not) I was getting a bit tired of eating - I only managed to try one of my peanut balls. Lastly we sat around talking and enjoying hot tea and fresh orange slices.

It was an interesting dinner and certainly a unique culinary experience for us. What better way to spend a Friday night than to be with family, friends and a good meal.


leslie Ty said...

I'm craving Chinese Food after reading your blog :)

I'm want to try the curried lobster and the house specialty....Roasted and then fried duck !!!! ( I remembered our peking duck experience :) )

Regards to Uncle Wash and Aunt Pizza :)

jol said...

It is great to read about fabulous food and excellent company! Makes me salivate.

Sareet said...

That duck house speciality sounds awesome.

And I agree - sea cucumbers are really really really GROSS.

I was thinking about you the other day Joanne - my friend's bf is a secret diner - he gets paid to try out different restaurants and review them after his meal. That might be something you'd enjoy!

Junarakasa said...

I thought the duck was really good too. And Les, I know you would have liked the curried lobster. :)

Sareet, thanks for thinking of me -- I'd love to become a "secret diner" - all three of my favorite things: eating out, trying new places, and getting to write about it too. Oh and two more things: free food and getting paid too. Can't beat that! :) But I don't know if I write well enough to attract a larger reader-base - other than my family and friends :) It would be interesting to learn more though.

Sareet said...

I'll look for the website when I get a chance. You don't really have to "write" - you just fill out an extensive survey/comment card after you're done with the meal.

ShelleyDiane said...

I am STARVING now!