The Unvegan

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Almost China at Shanghai No. 1 Seafood Village

I have to braise you like I should.
I have to braise you like I should.

Living right at the edge of the San Gabriel Valley can be a beautiful thing. Especially, that is, if you love Chinese food. There are parts of the SGV that literally make you feel like you have been transported into the heart of China and Shanghai No. 1 Seafood Village is one of those places. While it has supposedly gone through some management changes lately, it has been a regular on lists of LA’s best restaurants and has a menu the size of a long novel.

There's a new bao in town.
There’s a new bao in town.

We started out the meal with some Sheng Jian Bao, which is like the doughier, fried cousin of Xiao Long Bao. Both are soup dumplings straight out of Shanghai, but the Sheng Jian Bao has definitely grown in popularity recently. They are unquestionably easier to eat, and while Shanghai No. 1 Seafood Village does a great job with them, my heart still lies with Xiao Long Bao.

Killer tofu (in a good way).
Killer tofu (in a good way).

We also had a tofu and pork belly dish whose true name is lost in the Mandarin printed on my receipt. It was served up with some big bamboo shoots, mushrooms and a delicious brown sauce. Despite being unvegan, there are certain varieties of tofu that I fully admit liking and this dish had one of them.

Feeling just a little braisey.
Feeling just a little braisey.

As if that wasn’t enough pork belly, we also ordered the Braised Pork in a clay pot, which was one of the most deliciously flavorful dishes I may have ever had. Each bite was like all of the great parts of bacon combined with all of the best parts of Chinese seasonings. Plus, they keep some knotted tofu skin at the bottom of the pot to soak up all of the delicious drippings and while it doesn’t come close to being as good as the pork, it is damn good.

Wasted beef.
Wasted beef.

The only disappointment in the meal was the last dish, Short Ribs. We probably could have guessed after seeing that they were served with potatoes and broccoli, neither of which are associated with real Chinese food, but we still had to try out the meat. Sadly, it was pretty terrible. I can’t put a finger on what it was about the meat that was so bad, but I’m going to guess it was just a shoddy sauce.

The famous receipt.
The famous receipt.

Nonetheless, Shanghai No. 1 Seafood Village put on a great culinary show for my tastebuds. The whole time I was there I felt like I was back in Shanghai, and it didn’t hurt to have my Chinese bro-in-law there to order for us. He did order some veggie dishes that my eating companions seemed to enjoy, so there’s that. I’ve posted the Mandarin receipt here, because why not. Just don’t order the last dish on the list (the short ribs).