This year I celebrated my birthday with my wife and son and my brother and his wife at a small, family-owned Chinese restaurant in the Outer Richmond district of San Francisco: Shanghai Dumpling King. I first heard of this restaurant over a year ago on Check, Please! Bay Area, a restaurant reviews show on KQED.
Last year I had the opportunity to sample the establishment with a high school classmate visiting from Manila. We were very happy with the experience and the dishes we ordered: Shanghai Steamed Dumplings (Xiao Long Bao), Vegetarian Steamed Dumplings, Lion Head Meatball, Braised String Beans, and Shrimp Fried Rice.
The Steamed Dumplings were luscious, and the sensation of soup exploding into your mouth was unlike any other dimsum-style dish. The Lion Head was a softball-sized ball of rich onion, garlic, sesame, ginger, and beef flavors, and nearly impossible to consume completely.
During this Sunday’s visit, we ordered Shanghai Steamed Dumplings, Pan-fried Pork Buns, Green Onion Pancake, Combination Fried Rice, Vegetable Egg Rolls, Beef with Broccoli, and Glazed Walnut Prawns.
The Steamed Dumplings were again very good and they delighted all of us. The Pan Fried Pork Buns were like miniature steamed buns stuffed with ground pork, fried on their bottoms to make a crispy-succulent treat. Both types of dumplings were complemented by a dip of black vinegar with finely-sliced ginger. My brother said that the steamed dumplings were very good, but were eclipsed by the ones he had tasted in Taiwan.
The Green Onion Pancake was crispier than my brother expected, but all of us found it interesting, flavorful and enjoyable. The fried rice, beef, egg roll, and prawn dishes provided a “comfort zone” for my wife and son, who tasted and approved of them, then went on to enjoy the dumplings.
During both visits to Shanghai Dumpling King, we finished our meals with sugar-dusted deep-fried pastry puffs. These airy balls of decadence were not on the menu, but were offered by the waitstaff as soon as they came out of the wok. They added a final exclamation point to our meals.
During future visits to this eternally-busy restaurant, I hope to try the Pork Rice Dumplings, Smoked Fish Appetizer, Spicy Tendon Appetizer, Fried Spinach (with bean curd), Black Mushrooms with Gluten Puff, and Crispy Eel.
Was Shanghai Dumpling King worth the hour’s drive from San Jose? I’d say yes. There are enough unique items on the menu that Chinese restaurants around my home area do not offer. And those Shanghai Steamed Dumplings are just too delicious to ignore.
Shanghai Dumpling King
3319 Balboa Street, San Francisco CA 94121