Shanghai Broadway Has Shanghaied Us Into Lunch
We reported recently that Shanghai Broadway took over the old Kebab & Grill space, looking like one heck of a nice addition to an otherwise unremarkable chunk of the Garment District. It’s in a competitive spot – Chef Yu, Ginger’s, New Li Yuan, Main Noodle House, and Lunch Box Buffet all bracket the region with very good Chinese offerings. While their menu contains some Generic Dragon standards, it’s got some interesting items. Can they measure up?
$11 before tip, I got the braised fish filets in hot bean sauce lunch special. I am a huge sucker for hot bean sauce; I’ve had it before at the once-awesome-now-meh Hunan Cottage back in Jersey with buffalo fish, but I haven’t been to Chinatown often enough to get it here in the city. True, it’s a buck over the limit, but it comes with soda and rice as any good Chinese restaurant lunch special. That’s not bad, given the quantity you normally get, and the quantity didn’t disappoint.
Hey, they give you an hors d’oeuvre too! Taking a page from Aura Thai, are we, Shanghai Broadway? Sadly, the spring roll I got is forgettable, more roll than spring, but it had a nice scalliony taste to it. I’m glad I didn’t order it extra, it’s not worth going back for.
When you open the fish, beware: do so slowly. It’s filled to the brim and at the top is hot chili oil, which will ruin your day if you wore your best shirt to impress clients. Fortunately us slovenly, slavering IT professionals, kept in the basement with the rest of the Morlocks, need only exercise some caution pulling off the lid.
When that lid comes off and you plate yourself a portion, though – oh man, the reaction. Immediately you smells a nice meaty, tangy musk without a hint of fishiness. Lots of garlic and scallions are in the sauce and they are pungently present. This DEFINITELY is not a dish you want to eat before you’re either selling to or making out with someone important.
How does it taste? Sublimely meaty, the fish is perfectly cooked to fleshy perfection and the sauce coats the whole affair like a spicy, pungent hug. There is chili in this, rating about a 3 to a 4 on your humble reviewer’s heat scale (I’m told that would equate anywhere between a 5 or a 6 on the level of a mere mortal). The heat is a component, though – it rides the wave of fermented bean paste and complements it so well. It balances the heaviness of the sauce, which is a good thing – it makes you wanna slow down and enjoy every bite. This is good, because there’s an immense amount of food here. This is about two pints of rice, enough to feed you for two meals. I seriously think anyone would be hard pressed to eat the whole thing.
I’m liking the heck out of Shanghai Broadway thus far. They keep the good ol’ Chinese restaurant quantity going but they diverge sharply and swiftly from the same ol’ same ol’ in the grand tradition of the 8th Ave steam table empire. As long as you’re careful with what you order and how you open it up, you’re gonna be very full, very fast, for a bit more than you’d otherwise pay on one or two options – but it appears to be quite well worth it.
The + (What the hot bean paste fans would say):
- Yes, finally, decent Shanghai fare in south-central Midtown!
- Don’t skimp the heat and don’t skimp the good stuff when it comes to Shanghai fare!
The – (What the folks who were shanghaied into trying it would say):
- Big swaths of the lunch menu are over the ML limit – sure, maybe just by $1, but add in tips too
- Splattering, staining oil everywhere – not for the fancy-dress crowd and definitely not street fare.
- The pack-in two-bite spring roll is the epitome of not so great.
Shanghai Broadway, 150 West 36th St., btw 7th and Broadway