*** Shanghai City is no more. It is now Spicy House.
We had been pretty happy with the Niu Rou Mein at Shanghai City. The Beef Noodle Soup always had a nice rich and deep flavor, good oil content, some spice, and the noodles had a pleasant mouth feel for us. In fact, on a good day, I'd say that it would have measured up pretty well with anything we've had elsewhere. But recently, before the weather turned warm and humid, we decided to drop by Shanghai City. And of course, I had the Niu Rou Mein. I think you can often measure how long you've been doing something by comparing prices. The price of the NRM in my first post, in October of 2005, the weekend breakfast special price for NRM was a major bargain at $4.25. During my next post in December of 2006, the NRM was $4.95, and still a bargain. In March of 2007, it had gone up another dollar and was $5.95. And now it's $6.45, it really makes me feel like I've been doing this for a very long time.
I'm not sure what the regular (non-weekend breakfast special) price is for the NRM. We got our NRM in pretty quick fashion.
And were a bit disappointed. The broth was much lighter, and the flavor was on the watery side. The meat was very tender, but bland, lacking any beefy punch. The noodles were the biggest let-down, they were over-cooked and mushy, not the doughy chewiness we usually enjoyed.
Which led me to.......think about retrying other restaurants. So here's 2 more to make a NRM tri-fecta.
*** 168 Restaurant has closed.
The place looked much cleaner than I remembered, and the tables lacked the signature "San Gabriel stickiness", but Beef Noodle Soup was still on the menu. I went with the Spicy Beef Noodle Soup($6.50):
The bowl was smaller than what I recall, but it looked and tasted the same. Second rate noodles, the broth was quite weak, lacking richness. I've always enjoyed the pickled greens, and on this occasion the beef was very tender, and had a decent 5 spice flavor, but the broth had a unpleasant bitter-burnt aftertaste.
This time I went for the gusto Beef Noodle Soup with home made noodles ($7.95 + $1 = $8.95!), the most expensive NRM I've ever had.
I enjoyed that the large bowl arrived steaming hot. The broth was much darker than what I've had on previous visits, and this time it had a nice beefy punch, but lacked any richness (oil), and was very salty. It did look so good that 2 people who walked in while I was eating this asked the Server what I was having, and ended up ordering this. The beef was tender, but lacked flavor, as if all the beefiness was sucked out of it. There was a ton of the medium-wide "home made" noodles provided, but it really did nothing for me. No chewiness, or the nice slightly doughy texture, in the end I would have just been fine with the regular noodles. In addition, there was a giant messy clump of noodles all stuck together in the bottom of the bowl. Which led me to wonder how these were being stored.
Just as a reminder, home-made doesn't mean fresh......
So I'm left in a quandary......I'm hoping that Shanghai City's NRM will be back in form next time. But now, I'll be back to trying other versions in San Diego again. Looks like it's back to square one.