Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Another Victory for General Tso

Posted By on Wed, Dec 17, 2008 at 12:13 AM

click to enlarge shanghai3-1.jpg

The rare "authentic" Chinese menu just a little more scarce in our area. Shanghai, a restaurant in Metairie with one of the most extensive such menus in town, closed down earlier this month and will be replaced by a concept described on its "coming soon" signage as "nouvelle Vietnamese cuisine."

Whatever that might be sounds interesting enough, but I'll miss my brief relationship with Shanghai.

The restaurant did not boast the world's greatest location, being hidden behind several veils of beige suburban clutter near Clearview Mall. But it was worth seeking out because in addition to the conventional Chinese-American menu, those in the know could request to order from a deep menu of traditional Chinese-Chinese dishes.

A Chinese acupuncturist in Kenner had been bragging about his affiliation with this restaurant and its singular menu to one of my various food spies, which is how I knew enough to ask for the Chinese menu myself. Frustratingly, these menus are rarely advertised.

It was an intriguing document, with such screamers as "pork intestines with pickles or blood," dark planks of feverishly hot beef jerky and a whole pork leg jutting up from a pool of garlic sauce like a trophy piece, with all the connective complexities of the knee joint flagging at the top (pictured below). Other dishes were more approachable, however, and even first-timers to this type of eating could enjoy the tender dumplings, the catfish sizzling in an iron platter with garlic and red peppers and seafood soups big enough to feed the whole family.

In case you couldn't tell, I was taking notes from all these meals for a planned December review when, attempting a follow-up visit, we discovered the place was shuttered and awaiting its next incarnation.

But there are other restaurants around town offering similar authentic menus to anyone who knows to ask, including China Rose and Jung's Golden Dragon (for breakfast) in Metairie and a Kenner restaurant that will be featured in my column next week.

-- Ian McNulty

click to enlarge shanghai3.jpg

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