I really wanted to give Shanghai Asian Cuisine a great review, both for the nostalgia I have for this spot and for the food, but they shorted us $20 on the change on our bill and when we asked about it, they gave us a ton of attitude. Shanghai Asian Cuisine used to be Shanghai Snack Bar, which was the first restaurant I tried in Chinatown when I moved to New York City twenty years ago. It was where I first fell in love with soup dumplings.
In summary, the Xiaolong Bao, Sheng Jian, scallion pancakes and lo mein we tried at Shanghai Asian Cuisine were really good and the service is really fast, but watch your change.
The Dumplings: There is a really wide selection of dumplings and buns and the prices are really reasonable.
Steamed tiny buns with crab meat and pork: These Xiaolong Bao (soup dumplings) are excellent, with a lot of tasty soup inside. Each dumpling has a little dab of crab roe perched on top and they have a lot of crab meat mixed into the pork filling. They are flavored with a hint of ginger that really high-lights the crab.
Fried tiny buns with pork: Their version of Sheng Jian have a thicker and breadier wrapper than those I’ve had in Shanghai and don’t have any soup inside of them. So at first I was a little taken aback because they weren’t what I was expecting, but they grew on me fast and the rest of the table really liked them. I definitely recommend them.
Steamed pork dumplings: I thought the wrappers on the Zheng jiao were thick and tough and the pork filling was bland and under-seasoned.
Shrimp dumplings: The shrimp in the Har Gow were well seasoned and fresh tasting and the wrappers were thin and delicate and not gummy. A good taste overall, but when I picked them up with the chopsticks the wrappers split apart and the shrimp fell out of the dumplings.
The Dipping Sauce: the soup dumplings come with black vinegar and slivered ginger. The vinegar, which can sometimes be a little over powering, is milder at Shanghai Asian Cuisine than in a lot of other places. There are bottles of rice vinegar and soy sauce on the table and jar of sambal style chili sauce.
Location: Shanghai Asian Cuisine is on Elizabeth street in New York City’s Chinatown, next to the Chinatown arcade, the arcade connecting Elizabeth and Bowery.