I heard a rumor the other day that Shanghai Lil might be closing (hopefully that is all it was) so the other day when hubby and I had a free day for lunch (and got shot down attempting to try a new place that as it turns out was only open for dinner), we decided to drop in and have some dim sum. It had been awhile. And I figured I would remind you about it just in case you had forgotten (I would be sad if it closes).
The meal started with a little amuse bouche before our lunch (even for lunch which I thought was a nice touch). This time the one they gave us was delicious as well. It was a little duck and cabbage salad with a piece of soft, wonderfully cooked eggplant (I am a sucker for eggplant). It was super tender and had a nice soy based, slightly sweet sauce. The salad part was more acidic and they were nice together.
We ordered several things—our usual ha gao ($3.95) and spring rolls ($3.75) were a no brainer. They are some of our favorite basic things, and they are very well done at Shanghai Lil. Ha Gao are shrimp dumplings and they are generally pretty straightforward—shrimp inside a soft steamed dumpling. The shrimp is fresh and doesn’t have that fishy taste that it sometimes can if it’s been sitting around too long, and it was properly cooked. The spring rolls are good as well—super crunchy and containing actual shrimp and lots of veggies. They are also thinner than your classic egg roll and easier to eat.
We also got shrimp siu mai ($3.95) which is similar to the shrimp dumplings, except the steamed shell is filled with shrimp that has been minced with other things—I am thinking scallions here, so it has a slightly different flavor. The dough used in the dumpling is a little different too—a little firmer than the ha gao.
We also tried the fried tofu with scallion sauce ($3.95) and the shrimp and chive cake ($3.95). I generally like tofu, and this was pretty good, particularly along the pointy parts where you got nice bites with crispy edges. Once you got to the middle it was just a little too much gooey tofu with nothing else. The sauce had very little flavor to me. We ended up adding some soy to it.
The shrimp and chive cakes were interesting and a nice variety (we usually try and get at least one new thing when we do dim sum). Interestingly, there was actually pork in there too, which I didn’t mind, but it was a little surprise. They ingredients were minced together, put in a dumpling skin (more like the siu mai thickness) and then pan-fried which gave them a nice little crunchy side. There were a lot of chives and scallions in there, and they had a very grassy flavor because of it. I appreciated the additional variation in texture (I try to balance between steamed, fried and pan fried) although this was probably my least favorite item of the day.
Overall the quality is really very good, and the dim sum menu is quite large. We don’t have a lot of good Chinese food on the northeast side, and Shanghai Lil is definitely one of the better ones. And I am glad they do dim sum (they also have some good looking non-dim sum lunch specials I would like to try as well).
8505 Keystone Crossing