Thursday, July 28, 2011

Dim Sum in Sunny Shanghai photo
Dim Sum are among the greatest gifts of Chinese civilization to the world.
When we are California, we almost try to have at least one dim sum meal. They're a heart's delight of numerous and highly varied little treats bought to your table. A dim sum meal is best shared so you can sample more varieties of these dainty, savory and sweet little "dot hearts". While a Cantonese specialty, other regions of China also make them a treat.

In Spanish, they might be equated to "antojitos", or "little whims". But they are almost unknown in Mexico.  On the San Francisco Peninsula of California, the challenge isn't finding a dim sum restaurant, rather to choose one from the long and tempting list of dim sum parlors.

We'd been fond of Fook Yuen, in Millbrae, CA, an old favorite of Dim Sumness. But I read that Fook Yuen had been closed and perhaps replaced by Asian Pearl Peninsula. There was the very fancy, Chinoiserie decor of the Hong Kong Flower Lounge. The Zen Peninsula was a new one for me.

I spent a great deal of time searching the Internet for the top spot for a Sunday dim sum brunch with our friends Bridget and Derald.

What determined the final decision were the Xiao Long Bao at Sunny Shanghai Restaurant, in San Bruno. Devoid of dragon gates, glitter or gongs, it's a simple Mom and Pop place with a few tables. However, posters on and the blogger rated the Xiao Long Bao at Sunny Shanghai as the best in the S.F. area. The restaurant is small, but the talent in the kitchen is large.

Fans gather to enjoy dim sum at Sunny Shanghai
What is a Xiao Long Bao? There's a useful discussion on, but the bottom line is that they are steamed Soup Dumplings; wheat dough skins filled with a meat and soup mixture that is gently lifted from a steamer basket to a soup spoon, bitten to release and slurp the fragrant and savory broth within, then enjoy the morsel of minced pork and shrimp.

Xiao Long Bao
The "XLB" are not the only terrific dim sum at Sunny Shanghai. Our friends and we looked over the menu. On the wall above our table were hand written specials in Chinese characters. We could have asked the hostess owner lady for a translation, but we were more than happy with what was on the printed menu, in both English and Chinese.

Here's what we choose:

Hot Salty Soybean Milk. (There's also a sweet version.) This was pretty good, but not like that we'd had decades ago at Foo Loo Soo Restaurant, in Campbell, CA.

Hot Salty Soybean Milk
The traditional accompaniment, Yu Tiao, a puffy, twisted non sweet cruller.

Yu Tiao

Scallion Cake, one of the favorites of Doña Cuevas and me.
I will try to provide a recipe for these. The Sunny Shanghai Scallion Cakes were flakier than the one layer example we'd had late last winter, at Mojing Comida China, in Mexico City. 

Scallion Cake at Sunny Shanghai
Turnip Short Cakes (really a flaky crust, not a short dough at all), filled with coarsely shredded Chinese turnip and an elusive, porky element. These were delightful. Served hot, of course.

Turnip Cakes
Fried Pork Buns. Something like Pot Stickers, but larger and more complex. There's a topping on each, which I have not been able to identify. Could be a rice paste. Inside, just done, juicy, chopped pork. These were essential and indispensable.

Fried Pork Buns
Among the assorted condiments, we were given some especially tangy red chile paste, redolent with some mysterious fermentation.

Hot stuff!
We probably should have stopped at that point. But we were lured on by the unknown. Our next dish, Slide Rolls, was a bit of a dud. It took a while to cook, and when we got them, we were disappointed to see what I knew as "Ribbon Rolls". They are a steamed, plain white bread roll, made in a complex form. There was a saucer of condensed milk in which to dip the rolls. Ho, hum.

Slide Rolls/Ribbon Rolls
Our bellies filling, but our curiosity unsated, we ordered two more dishes: Wor Wonton Soup, beautiful, loaded with vegetables and bits of meats as well as plump won tons...

Wor Wonton Soup
and the intriguing Spicy Pork with Smoked Tofu, which was good, but not as good nor as spicy as it sounds.

Spicy Pork with Smoked Tofu
We decided to stop. We had one fried pork bun and a scant pint of wonton soup to take home.

We were amazed when we got the check. If I recall correctly, the total bill came to $57. That included several pots of tea (probably complimentary) and two glasses of wine.
Major credit cards accepted, and they were kind enough to split the ticket and charge to two, separate cards.
Now, the ratings.

Food: *****

Service: **** (one waitress and an occasional helper. Our hostess trebled in waiting tables, hosting/cashiering and washing dishes.)

Price: $1/2  A super value!

Ambience: Simple decor.

Restroom: Dark, a bit dingy. Needs work.

Kitchen hygiene: if you scare easily, please don't look in.

Would we return? In a San Francisco Peninsula minute.

Sunny Shanghai

189 El Camino Real, San Bruno, CA
(650) 615-9879 ‎



Calypso said...

"...if you scare easily, please don't look in"

hmmm! Is this like looking behind the scenes in a typical Mexican cocina? The food looks great!

Don Cuevas said...

Calypso; it IS great food, so it's worth turning a blind eye to some um, er, practices.

Don Cuevas