193-197 High Holborn
Tel: 0207 404 1668
Date of Last Visit: Thursday, November1st
The Victims: Al, Dave, Natalie, and Dave's friend whose name I've forgotten. Bad of me! And she was really nice, too.
The Damage: £57 each
The Background: I like Chinese food. A lot. In a past life, I think I was Chinese. Give me chicken feet and I will eat them. (Although let it be known that I do not necessarily seek them out.) Snake, check. Tofu, check check check. About the only "Chinese" dish I don't like is sweet and sour chicken (or pork). Too sweet for me. (Some would argue that this is not Chinese food at all, so in that sense, it makes sense.)
So when Al suggests meeting up for dinner at Shanghai Blues, I am intrigued. I read some reviews online and more than a few mention how dark it is inside Shanghai Blues. I am even more intrigued. Even more so when a very large man lets me in the front door. A restaurant with a bouncer? Porquoi? (I would write "Why?" in Chinese, but my Chinese is limited to gweiluo in Cantonese, xie xie in Mandarin, and beer, which I always forget the word for.)
I am late–very unlike me–because of an unfortunate incident with my cash card where the machine said it was dispensing cash but no cash was forthcoming, but I catch Al and brother Dave at the bar (which is dark–but not so dark that you can't see), drinking martinis. I am reminded of my Sake-tini in Mexico, of all places. I peruse the bar menu and there are no Sake-tinis to be found, but I ask the bartender and he smiles knowingly. He has to call up a cucumber from the kitchen, and proceeds to slice it up a bit. He uses the slices to line the bottom of a martini glass. I feel like I am in the hands of an expert. He tells me I am in on a big secret at Shanghai Blues.
The sake-tini arrives a few minutes later and it is COLD. Icy cold. Perfect. I am in love.
The Service: I am not so in love with the service at Shanghai Blues. The serving staff are gruff and unhelpful. I pry recommendations out of them like English people performing denistry at home. (Btw, guys, this has GOT to stop.)
The Food: Our starters are beautifully presented though, so there's that. Al's got some little pumpkins…They are, if I get this right, pumpkin dumplings shaped like pumpkins. They are cute. (I took a photo but it is way too dark.) My dumplings come in their own little dumpling hammocks. Well done.
My main–a recommendation for which which I gave away my first unborn child–is the star of the night. It's beef and peppers and it's amazingly delicious. Days later and I am still thinking abou it. The rest of the dishs are not so nice. There are some limp veggie noodles and some slippery some spicy tofu.
After our meal, a very creative fruit tray arrives with a candle in it…it is Dave's birthday, after all. The waitstaff are temporarily redeemed, as they apparently overheard us say it was Dave's birthday and decided to put the festive fruit tray together for us. They fall back out of our good graces when our request for the check takes AGES.
The Verdict: That beef dish was great. And the dumplings were so cute. I made good choices. I would go back.