Ala Shanghai – My fave local restaurant

It’s nice to get a break from the weather sometimes. But if you’re given to sickliness like yours truly, sometimes your immune system doesn’t appreciate the sharp humidity drops and you get a summer cold.

Enter Ala Shanghai. My kitchen away from home. I like going here (especially when I’m sick) because it feels like I pulled a seat up to a relative’s table and they’re taking care of me. Very familial here.

I was so craving some jelly fish, and Lanny must have been reading my mind because some free appetizers came my way. Jelly fish and cabbage. Mmm. Crunchy and so good. Ala Shanghai has the best jelly fish I’ve ever had – nice and crunchy, tastes briny like the sea, and just a touch of sesame oil. Mmm.

Albany John ordered some turnip pastries. I think these are really good for kids – flaky and pastry like, but not too vegetal.

I decided to try the pan-fried steamed dumplings. Basically, steamed baos, with one side fried in oil.

Inside of turnip pastry. So many flaky layers.

Fried baos from above.

Bao innards. Nommy pork with lots of juices.

Oh, and of couse some xiao4 long2 bao. There were a few breaks in the XLB (no soup :<), but…

The few that did have soup were just ay-may-zing. Look at all that soup! The skins also tasted thinner than they usually have. Mmm. Still kind of thick by NYC XLB standards, but quite thin for Ala Shanghai standards.

Albany John also wanted the sticky rice dumplings. You guys know how much I like rice, so this dish was all him. Coin purses of seasoned sticky rice.

And here is the real reason I went to Ala Shanghai. SOUP. They have the best soup in the area. Wonderfully seasoned broth (not too salty, rich meaty flavor). Sure to cure what ails me. Now THIS is my kind of Chinese Medicine. When I get sick, my first thought is “I gotta get to Ala Shanghai for some soup.”

I just got the pickle and shredded pork noodle soup. Nothing overly fancy, just what you’d think your Chinese grandma would make you if you were sick. Good home cooking, and very rich in flavor while being very low in oil. I don’t like a lot of other soups in the area ‘coz of all the grease in them. If I’m eating soup, I don’t want a 1/4″ of oil floating on top! I want to taste the broth!

Mmm, soft, pillowy homemade noodles. Super tender pork. Lots of curative, flavorful broth. Oh, and at $5, yes FIVE DOLLARS you get like a huge quart of soup. It’s insane how cheap and awesome their soups are.

  1. Greg said:

    Gota say, I don't subscribe to the Ala Shanghai hype. Been there several times over the course of…however long its been since they opened. And it seems like they're getting better (from what I understand this was due to lots of complaints/suggestions from the local chinese american community) but..its still pretty mediocre.

    ONE thing I have noticed – if I am going to order from them, I usually do get soup. If the order is placed in English – my noodles always come in the soup. If its placed in Mandarin, the noodles always come in a separate container.

  2. I was there earlier this week, and I am confused by their jellyfish.

    Great texture and brinyness, however I am used to the toasted sesame oil. Their white sesame oil just lacks flavor. I actually requested a small dish of oil on the side because i thought they omitted it.

    Other than that, everything was delicious, it is the place I would take my chinese parents if they ever visited.

  3. Chelle said:

    Everytime you mention this place, you make me want to go. Only gone once but now I have to go again.

  4. Greg – I see where you're coming from. There are some dishes that are better than others, but I applaud Ala's ability to be both flexible without bending too much (if that makes sense). I've never noticed the noodle vs no noodle thing – motivation to try ordering in Mandarin!

    Acridian – What region of Chinese are you? I'm canto & I'm used to more subtle sesame flavors than at Ala, so theirs seems okay to me. Tell your parents to visit – guilt 'em 😉

    Chelle – GOOOOOOO!

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