After all this talk of fancy dining, 4-star service, Le Bernardin and the lack thereof, I'm bringing it all back to what we're all about: SOUL. Umami Mart is all about love and sharing and laughter and how food plays a great role in that in our lives.
Yoko and I had an errand to run in South San Francisco, and we decided to try Shanghai Dumpling Shop in Millbrae, right near the airport. It's a bit of a wasteland of eateries around SFO, but Millbrae is hoppin! I had read they make great soup dumplings (xiao long bao aka XLB), so we could not resist.
We started with the 'drunken' chicken. As I've mentioned before, I am a sucker for steamed chicken -- it is super cheap and delicious. ($5)
The anise flavor was too strong here and the sauce in general too salty.
Sauteed green beans with garlic. So neccessary.
I really love vegetable dishes at Chinese restaurants. You really get a sense of deep understanding the cooks have about oil and frying methods. These are like candy.
Chive and pork dumplings, boiled.
You get a nice plateful of steaming handmade dumplings for $6. Incredible.
Juice bomb! I love the combination of chive and pork. But these paled in comparison to...
... the XLB!!!
We ordered the pork, without the crab. They gave us soup bowls for the ginger/soy/vinegar sauce. Pretty much the dreamiest $7 EVER. That's $0.70 per dumpling!!!
But I file this post under Great UM Noodletown because of the Shop's dan dan mien:
I dream of this specific dish from the Shop often. Bits of ground pork and thin, hand-pulled egg noodles swimming in a spicy/ sesame/ miso-like soup. This noodle soup blew my mind. It was spicy yet sweet and full of so much SOUL.
I won't lie. I do like having a white-table-cloth fancy dining experiences once in a while. But we don't generally write about those experiences here on Umami Mart cause it's such a bore. The big heavy white plates, the silly sauce streaks, the dainty morsels. We've all seen that -- on tv, in magazines, on the INTERNET. Like Moto mentioned, maybe a part of me likes the occasional fine dining meal it for its exclusivity -- to say I've been there too. And to say that I did it and didn't like it? That's a luxury in itself.
But deep down, the only thing I really want after one of those over-priced, stuffy dining experiences is a hot bowl of noodles. It is also the only thing I crave when I am traveling abroad. I'd be ok living in Great UM Noodletown forever.
SHANGHAI DUMPLING SHOP
Millbrae, CA 94030