Places You Should Go Eat, No. 1
There are few things in this world I like as much as telling people what I think they should do. Not because I’m bossy - well, maybe just a little - but because I am FIRMLY and WHOLEHEARTEDLY CONVINCED they are going to LOVE whatever it is I have in mind.
But one thing I love slightly more than telling people what to do is telling them about food I love and restaurants in which they can find it. One day I realized: You can combine these two things by telling people not only about food and restaurants and which dishes are best but insisting they go to certain restaurants and try specific dishes. It’s a win-win situation: I get to do what I enjoy and am good at, and everyone else gets to discover fantastic food and eat it. 9 times out of 10, everyone is happy.
(1 time out of 10 I’ve got an idiot on my hands. Clearly.)
So where did we go tonight? A neighborhood favorite, here in wonderful Central Richmond: Old Shanghai Restaurant.
Yes, the middle word is Shanghai, not Korean. I know I promised Korean, so to those of you paying attention, I apologize. Soon! But tonight, it was cold and spitty and I’m pretty sure I saw a gnome in Laurel Heights.
It meant only one thing: hot soup and the pillowiest, fluffiest white rice in town.
We almost always order the hot and sour soup, which is thick and satisfying, filled with strips of tofu, tree ears, bamboo shoots, and scallions. It’s available with or without meat. Tonight we tried it without, for the hell of it, and it was equally delicious - even a little more vinegary, which is an added bonus to any intelligent person.
I inhaled 2/3 of the bowl before realizing I hadn’t taken a photo. Such a shame. You should go eat some.
Tonight he tried OSR’s tan tan noodle soup with meat (#32, menu dork). Word of warning: THIS IS A FUCKING ENORMOUS BOWL OF FOOD. Addendum: of DELICIOUS food. I couldn’t eat the noodles, thanks to that whole gluten thing going on (pray for me, people. pray that I can eat it again soon), but yeah. It’s the good stuff.
Speaking of gluten, if I were you and I were eating it, I would totally get xiao long bao. They have them. I can’t vouch for them but I mean come on. They are the world’s two greatest foods - soup and dumplings - combined into ONE GLORIOUS PACKAGE. Even if they’re bad, they’re good. Stop being picky and just enjoy them.
And of course, there is one must-order dish. The dish that I can’t wrap my brain around - so deceptively simple, so delicious, so heavenly, is item #52: Shanghai Stir Fried Rice Cake w/Bamboo Shoot & Vege.
You’re going to sit there and tell me, “I don’t like bamboo shoots. They’re gross. They come in a can and should stay in a can.” You’re an ignorant asshole, just like I was. Hey so these bamboo shoots? Are fresh. I KNOW, RITE? I had no idea such a thing existed but thankfully they do because oh hey, they’re great. And the rice cakes are all glutinous and chewy, and the bits of chopped up Shanghainese greens, and the delicate sauce, and oh god I can eat half the plate without stopping. I get a little shivvery just thinking about it sometimes.
So now that I’ve made everyone uncomfortable but kind of hungry at the same time, I say to you: go. Especially on a weekend such as this. Lunch is cheaper, as it often is, but it’s not exactly exactly a total bank-breaker at dinner. Say “xie xie” to the nice gentlemen who take your order and clear your plate, and then you can say it to me later.
Old Shanghai Restaurant
5146 Geary Boulevard, SF