We’d been going to Shanghai Café for a long time, shortly after it first opened in (I believe) 1998. So that’s almost fifteen years that we’ve patronized what has become our go-to Chinese restaurant. Over the years, we’ve brought friends here. Almost without exception, they too have enjoyed the food. My daughter and son-in-law, both vegetarians, love this place, though their visits unfortunately (for them) are limited to when they’re in town. So, for inexplicable reasons, it’s surprising that I haven’t submitted a post on this restaurant until now. To make up for sins of past omission, this review will be longer than most.
The interior is not very large, an L-shaped dining room that seats no more than 50 people, I’d say, located in a strip mall in Factoria that has limited parking space. It is a family-run operation.
If available, we will often start off the meal with an appetizer of Spicy Cucumbers (☆☆☆½), thinly sliced and marinated in a sweet vinaigrette with red pepper flakes. The cucumbers are addictive, a nice balance of texture, sweetness and tartness.
One of their specialties is hand-shaven noodles (dao xiao mian), of which there are two kinds: wheat and barley green, the latter which has never registered a “green” taste to me and therefore more of a novelty than a distinct flavor. Chalk it up to my unsophisticated taste buds. Thicker than pulled noodles and irregularly shaped, shaved from a block of dough with a sharp knife or cleaver into boiling water, these noodles take center stage with their girth, chewy texture and wheaty taste. The hand shaven chow mein, in various combinations of meat and/or seafood, with generous amounts of vegetables, is really good. The vegetarian version (☆☆☆) is surprisingly savory with two kinds of mushrooms, eggs, napa cabbage, green onions, carrots and snow peas.