Ever since Shanghai Morning went downhill in food quality, there has been a xiaolongbao (XLB)-shaped hole in my stomach… patiently and desperately waiting to be filled. To my greatest surprise, I have found that dumpling. And she lives in NYC Chinatown’s New 21 Shang Hai House Inc. Not sure if it’s an actual incorporated company though. If they sell shares, I’m all-in.
On our way to Brooklyn Bridge, we threaded through the sketch streets of Chinatown and stumbled upon this restaurant. It caught hippoCHAN’s eye because the Chinese name is the exact same as my previous favourite restaurant when it was in its former glory. We Yelp’d it, and 4/5 stars… yup, let’s eat.
We started our dinner with some Stir Fried Rice Cake w/ Shredded Pork and Veggie ($6.5). It was so good… the playfully chewy cakes were lightly oiled and seasoned well. To save room for the other dishes, we packed up half of the dish for the next day. And it still tasted just as good!
The House Beef Noodle Soup ($6.95) was an interesting medley of fresh ingredients. It’s not often that I have a noodle soup that has chopped tomatoes and a fried egg. The soup was clear and didn’t taste anything like MSG. The generous portion of sliced beef shank had a moist and gelatinous texture due to the slow cooked collagen. It was a very simple bowl of noodles that was more home-style than anything else.
The defining dish of any Shanghainese restaurant is the XLB. New 21 calls them Steamed Pork Buns ($5.95). There’s eight per bamboo steamer. Each dumplings was ancient-scripture-perfect… moist and flavourful pork enveloped by a very thin skin that doesn’t break upon chopstick impact, keeping the soupy juices within. So so so so so so so so so good.
Finally, another classic dish: Scallion Pancake ($2.75). I don’t believe that I’ve had a better pancake. It was beautifully fried, with great crunch, but without the gross oil. And the price? Seriously… would you rather have a cup of coffee or scallion pancake?! The decision is clear for me.
Vancouver is bursting at the seams with Chinese restaurants, but I haven’t been to one that can even hold a chopstick to New 21. This is my New #1 favourite Shanghainese restaurant. And I still can’t wrap my mind around how cheap the food was, considering that it’s New York! This dinner was literally the cheapest of all the meals we shared during my vacation, but it was also the tastiest! I can’t wait to fly back to eat here. Oh, and see hippoCHAN :P