Shanghai Café’s Surprise Casserole

What do you get when you blend perfectly cooked squid and shrimp, succulent chicken breast, meaty shiitake, shaves of dry cured and smoked ham reminiscent of a Smithfield, chicken meatballs and nappa cabbage, each revealing its essence in a rich chicken broth as fine as I’ve ever tasted? You get the Shanghai Café Tofu and Cabbage Casserole (☆☆☆☆), a hidden treasure in an already first-rate menu. It really is a soup with surprises beyond its unremarkable name, casserole only referring to the serving vessel. In a way, it’s like hotpot that the kitchen has already prepared for you. Adding to the soup’s cornucopia are tofu, snow peas, exquisitely carved garnishes of carrots and mung bean noodles. At $18.95, it is a good-sized meal for three people.

If my wife and I hadn’t seen another patron eating it some years ago, we might never have tried it on our own. This is a soup, casserole, hotpot or whatever, that is now one of our comfort foods when there is a chill in the air.

Spicy cucumber
Spicy cucumber

Shanghai Café
12708 SE 38th St
Bellevue, WA 98006

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