In my latest sojourn into the San Gabriel Valley, I made my way to Shanghai Dumpling House in the city of San Gabriel. I had heard this was one of the better spots to get authentic Shanghai-style dumplings a while ago and wanted to see if it could deliver. Of course, I went with a crew to ensure that I could try more than just that. The only hard part was ensuring they didn’t walk into Shandong Dumpling House, which is house in the same mini mall.
We started with some Shanghai Chow Mein, which was somehow different from normal Chow Mein. In eating it, I couldn’t really tell the difference (perhaps it was the vegetables that I ignored), but I could tell that these were some solid and fresh noodles. We then moved on to the Scallion Pancakes, which are a mainstay all over China. Shanghai Dumpling House makes theirs crispier than I am used to, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but certainly surprising.
Also surprising was the fact that they used the exact same pancakes to wrap their Beef Rolls. Here, they were perfect. If you’re unfamiliar with beef rolls, no one is entirely sure where they come from aside from LA. Whatever the origin, they are an incredibly delicious shredded (almost BBQ-like) beef topped with a sweet and tangy (perhaps hoisin) sauce with cilantro. At Shanghai Dumpling House they were so good that we were almost tempted to order more for dessert.
Then we had the Rice Cakes. These aren’t your mama’s Quaker Oats snack, but rather a mochi-like pressed rice cake that takes the role of the noodle in stir fry. In this case, the stir fry was mostly pork, with a few veggies thrown in for good measure. The cakes themselves were pretty fantastic, but the overall flavors in the stir fry were really just whatever.
Finally came the Xiao Long Bao, aka juicy porky soupy dumplings. These were some of the most difficult to pick up in my experience with xiao long bao, but they were definitely worth it. The flavor was exactly what I expected, while the skin was just thin enough to keep the juices in. If I had any complaint, it would be that a few of the bao seemed hastily thrust together. By that I mean they weren’t fully sealed on top, making them even more difficult to pick up and eat.
I should also note that Shanghai Dumpling house is a little greasier than most other spots I’ve been to in the San Gabriel Valley. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, after all oil is one of the most popular ingredients in authentic Chinese cuisine, but it is worth noting. With places like Din Tai Fung attracting crazy lines, this was nearly as good and without a wait in sight.