Shanghai Chinese Restaurant
A lifetime fan of good Chinese food, I saw the rise, fall, and rise again of quality Chinese food in Portland. Back in the day, as in the 1970s and 80s, Portland’s Chinatown district was home to many, tasty, Chinese restaurants. Granted, most of these restaurants were of the Chinese-American variety, “but the chicken quality was good” (as my mom still says as a gauge). Then, in the late 80s, many or most of these establishments went down in quality or closed for good. I know we stopped going down there as a family in search of our favorite Kung Pao.
Skip to the future and Portland’s Chinese food scene has blossomed considerably. Now there are several good-to-great establishments where one can find not only the basics, but many hard-to-find dishes that would otherwise require expensive airfare and 20+ hours of flight. And the most recent addition to this list? An authentic, Shanghai-inspired restaurant that has opened up right smack in the heart of old Chinatown. Well I needed to hear no more to explore! Off to lunch I went and am happy to report back that not only is the chicken quality good, there are also a number of other, interesting items that up the authenticity and will surely drive demand.
Shanghai Chinese Restaurant
When I hear the word Shanghai, well, being a native Portlander it makes me think of our infamous Shanghai Tunnels where hapless folks were spirited away at the turn of the century. However, a new kind of Shanghai is gracing Portland these days…Shanghai Chinese Restaurant. Fortunately, you’re in for a real treat if you choose this new spot for lunch or dinner. And the best part of it? This establishment is right down on NW 4th where so many other Chinese restaurants have come and gone. Something tells me this place is here to stay however. Here’s a great take from PDX Eater’s Adam Levbarg:
Shanghainese owner Danny Chen, who also runs the longstanding Szechuan Chef restaurant on Macadam, wants to highlight distinct cuisine and classic style of Shanghai; Chen’s menu covers both traditional and modern Shanghainese dishes hard to find at other Portland restaurants. The venue will feature familiar Shanghainese classics like xiao long bao, as well as more elusive dishes like Shanghai-style borscht — a beet-free, tomato-based adaptation of the dish brought to the city by Russian immigrants fleeing persecution in the early 1900s. Other Shanghainese trademark specialties coming to Shanghai Chinese Restaurant are shīzi tóu (lion’s head meatball), a tender braised pork meatball often with a cooked egg in the middle, and the classic táng cù páigǔ, sweet-and-sour spare ribs. — Adam Levbarg, PDXEater.com
I’ve long been a fan of the food coming from Szechuan Chef, having lived not too far away for a time. And good Chinese is worth driving for, anyways, so their fare has graced my plate a few times. Then finding out that the chef from Szechuan Chef, owner Danny Chen, is the mastermind behind the new Shanghai Chinese Restaurant, well, it all falls into place. Chen’s food is dynamite. And for my recent experience, just weeks after the grand opening, did nothing to tarnish my impression. Indeed, always looking for great Kung Pao Chicken, I had to “go there.” Far from obscure, this crowd pleaser will have folks, well, pleased.
The second item I tried was from the “Popular” section of the menu, the Pan Fried Pork Buns. You get four of these incredibly yummy buns for just $9.95. Heck, I’d pay $9.95 for just one! Often seen on a dim sum cart, these pork buns, like the Kung Pao, aren’t terribly obscure, but wow do they impress. Simple but so good.
Finally, I had to go for the Noodles with Shredded Chicken and Cucumber. This dish is very simple and fresh. Ginger and scallions influence this dish that I may just keep dreaming about as the ultimate comfort food. For only $8.95, this is a bargain.
So going for lunch I was pretty limited in what I could try. I’m always annoyed at how fast I get full. But there it is, for visit #1 (of many I’m sure), you will be please not only with the food from Shanghai Chinese Restaurant, but the ambience and traditional location as well.
Important Information on Shanghai Chinese Restaurant
Here are some key bits of information for making your plans to visit Shanghai Chinese Restaurant:
Mon: 11:00 am - 3:00 pm, 4:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Wed: 11:00 am - 3:00 pm, 4:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Thu: 11:00 am - 3:00 pm, 4:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Fri: 11:00 am - 3:00 pm, 4:30 pm - 10:00 pm
Saturday: 11:00 am - 10:00 pm
Sunday: 11:00 am - 9:00 pm