It wasn’t too long ago that the old-Lemongrass location on 13th Street was replaced by a Chinese restaurant called Shanghai Square Shanghai Square.  Jessica and I basically ignored it because their menu contained various Asian cuisines and we assumed it would be bad.  Later we found out that Jessica knew the owner, blasts from her past life as a professional figure skater.  She learned that the chefs were good (well the Chinese side, they also have chefs for the Pan-Asian stuff and that’s pretty generic). Back to the Chinese  head chef, he came from well-known restaurant, Shun Lee Palace.  Plus they make dim sum all day (I know!), and sold at good prices, which is awesome for Union Square.  So we were hooked. It’s way nicer than going to dirty Chinatown.

While I am disclosing Jessica’s relationship with the owner, my review is not biased, I will maintain our usual critical style.

It was Jessica’s dad’s birthday and we pre-ordered a Chinese Banquet (some of these dishes are not on their regular menu).  However, since Sophia was with us, and most of the dishes were not vegetarian, she picked one extra dish off the menu — and she picked well!

Sizzling Nugget

The Sizzling Nugget, despite it’s weird name, was delicious!  It’s basically fried gluten with string beans, snow peas, red onions, and mushrooms, in a rich brown sauce.  It’s super flavorful, and while Sophia picked out the mushrooms, she ate a huge amount of the rest, topping white rice with the great sauce.

Dungeoness Crab in Black Bean Sauce

Of the banquet, seafood dishes came first, which is the norm.  The first dish was Dungeoness Crab in Black Bean Sauce.  It was some of the meatiest Dungeoness Crab we’ve had and the black bean sauce had an incredible flavor.  I felt like it offered that umame that was perfect with the light crab taste.  Possibly it was because of the black bean or because of the generous portion of the ground pork topping.

Grand Marnier Shrimp

The Grand Marnier Shrimp, generally one of our favorites during banquet dining, was not as enjoyable as at other restaurants like … in Flushing.  A few reasons why: first, the shrimp were butterflied open and fried.  This made them a bit harder to eat and they were a bit over-cooked.  The bigger problem was that the mayonnaise sauce was a bit wetter than usual, a bit eggier than usual (maybe it was the Japanese-style mayo?), and there was just so much sauce.  Jessica noted that good taste of orange from the Grand Marnier, it was subtle but there.

Peking Duck Wrap

The first non-seafood dish to arrive was Peking Duck.  They arrived pre-wrapped in a very tight, cigar-like bundles.  The duck was shredded into very small pieces and they seemed to have been pre-set, so they dried out a bit.  Frankly, none of us were impressed with the dish.  For real duck, I’ll stick to Peking Duck House or … in Forest Hills.

Soup Bowl

Soup Bowls arrived next, set in pretty containers, topped, and piping hot.

Ham and Winter Melon Soup

It was a Ham and Winter Melon Soup.  They did a beautiful job!  The chefs delicately inserted pork into wedges of winter melon.  This was so enjoyable!  Winter melon is hit or miss but this made it a hit!  The broth was flavorful and warm.  This is a great cold weather soup.

Steamed Whole Fish

Most of us were feeling stuffed by the time a Whole Steamed Fish arrived.  Jessica doesn’t know the English name for this fish, but it was great.  There was a small part of the fish that was under-cooked, but it didn’t matter since the bulk of it was perfect and incredibly tasty, plus we were so full.  The slaw of ginger, carrots, and scallions seemed better than any other I’d had and the sauce was light but flavorful.  The fish meat was so tender and paired with the slaw to provide the right taste.

Tomg Pau Pork

The Tong Pau Pork, a pork belly slice that is prepared in a similar style to red braising, was next.  I was almost ready to ask another table to come sit with us to help us eat.  The pieces were cut generously per person and had a lot of flavor.  The fatty/best part on top was perfect, but Justin and I felt the meaty part on the bottom was closer to roasted pork than braised.  I certainly had no problem devouring it.

Also devoured was the delicous spinach served with it.  I ate three helpings.

Black Mushroom and Bok Choy

Finally a vegetarian dish for Sophia!  She was stuffed from eating the Sizzling Nuggets, but ate a bit of the Bok Choy.  Since this sauce was corn starch based (my least favorite), and I was getting full, I passed.  Jessica and Kelly literally raved about the black mushrooms.  An exact quote: “These are the best!”

Shanghainese Rice Cakes

The Shanghainese Rice Cakes looked incredible when they arrived. Perfectly cooked rice cakes, peppered with a Chinese vegetable (of which we don’t know the name, but was something between Spinach and Kale), and sprinkled with shredded pork and bamboo. I loved the dish, and if I wasn’t stuffed, I could’ve eaten the whole plate. While I always enjoy rice cakes, the Spinach-like item took them to another level.

Shrimp Fried Rice

A beautiful, conical pyramid of Pineapple & Shrimp Fried Rice showed up, and I could only muster the stomach space to eat one spoonful. It was very good, but I just couldn’t get any more down. There were cubes of pineapple that gave off a distinct sweetness. It matched the light fried taste of the shrimp and well-cooked rice.

Turnip Puffs

The last dish was a circle of Turnip Pastry around bright green broccoli, that we joked was shaped like green brains. We knew we’d be full, but ordered the pastry anyway, because they are outstanding! It’s really hard to find these anywhere in the city and they alone are worth the trip. It’s basically shredded daikon with bits of ham in a super flaky pastry wrapper. The description doesn’t remotely do justice to the taste. You have to just try it.

Well, I think it’s clear that we ate way too much.  Plus, we took plenty of food home. Considering these portions at roughly $39 (including tax and tip) per person, it’s an unbelievable deal. I’ve now eaten there several times (usually eating dim sum and The Whole Fish Casserole), and I’m sure I’ll be back many times.  I hope to see you there.

posted by Lon at 08:31 AM Filed under Asian, Restaurants. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.