Restaurant: Shanghailander Palace [1, 2]
Location: 1695 South Azusa Ave. Hacienda Heights, CA 91745. 626-839-7777
Date: June 7, 2014 and December 9, 2018 and July 25 & September 11, 2021
Cuisine: Shanghai Chinese
Rating: Excellent – best Shanghai food I’ve had in the US
Hedonist trips to the SGV and its requisite Chinese adventures are among my favorite dinners. Shanghailander specializes in Shanghai style cuisine (obviously). On the downside, it’s far — in Azusa — almost 40 miles from my house! But it’s so good it’s really worth a once a year visit. Unfortunately, it was 4.5 years between my first two, but I’ve been back a number of times since.
The atmosphere may not be the fanciest, but these big communal dinners are great fun.
2005 Dönnhoff Oberhäuser Brücke Riesling Spätlese. IWC 90. Pale yellow. Rich aromas of lichee, lemon oil and pine.Luscious yet piquant tropical fruit flavors accented by smoke. In spite of the wine’s substantial depth, subtle acidity brings spice and finesse to the finish.
Real Chinese always begins with cold appetizers. Smoked fish (2014 & 12/9/18) is a classic Shanghai dish. Sort of like sweet crunchy fish chicken mcnuggets.
Marinated radish. A little sweet with a delightful crunch.
A different kind of slightly sweet marinated vegetable.
Cold chicken (2014).
Hainan Chicken (12/9/18). I think this was different than the above cold chicken from 2014. It was perfectly cooked and came with a garlic sauce.
Lamb in jelly. Tastes better than it sounds.
A slightly different “meat jelly” on 12/9/18.
Shanghai style bran curd. Love this stuff. It has a sweet taste and spongy texture. It’s made from bran or wheat gluten or something.
Dates. Never had dates in a Chinese restaurant before.
Greens with a peanut sauce. Not the most exciting.
Spinach. Kind of like spinach or broccoli soup — but not a soup.
Three cup chicken. Basically chicken with soy sauce — but boy, it was delicious. The sauce was sweetened and thickened perfectly.
2000 Mestre-Michelot Meursault 1er Cru Les Genevrières. 91 points. Lots of reduction (which I like).
Sautéed shrimp (2014 and 12/9/18). Simple but tasty. I’ve had this dish dozens of times at many Shanghai restaurants and this was for sure one of the best versions I’ve had in the US.
Fried fish with herbs (12/9/18). Lovely fried fish actually.
1984 Gros Frère et Sœur Clos Vougeot Musigni. 95 points. This is a great wine (good location in the vineyard and top winemakers) from a very off year — and it’s 29 year-old pinot noir. But somehow (and I’ve had 3 bottles) it’s still in great shape. Really quite lovely with a complex tar and cherry thing going on. I happen to find it fabulous.
Shanghai style braised pork in brown sauce. A huge hock of pig that falls off the bone. This is about as good as roast pork gets.
Grandmother’s BBQ pork belly (12/9/18). Perfect version of this rich, sweet Shanghai dish. Amazingly tender.
Meatballs stuffed with egg (12/9/18). Very unusual dish (here, typical in Shanghai). A kind of fried meat ball with a gooey duck egg yolk INSIDE!
Crab with rice cakes and ginger sauce. This was also delicious. We ordered two and I couldn’t resist the soft chewy rice cakes in that sauce.
Tofu soup. Basically chicken broth with tofu and a bit of ham. Actually very tasty.
Sea cucumber with shrimp roe (2014 & 12/9/18). Sea cucumber, the white stuff was roe, shrimp and fish. Weird soft textures but very pleasant. Not exactly a looker, but quite tasty.
West-like style whole fish.
Squirrel Fish. Similar fish, but deep fried and in the super thick, super sweet and tangy sauce.
2009 Anderson Oaks Pinot Noir. 90 points. They weren’t kidding about the oak.
Tasty frogs. Bull frog Schezuan style in chili oil and peppers. Had some heat.
Shanghai steamed dumplings (XLB) (2014 & 12/9/18). Always one of my favorites. The dough was great, the meat needed a hair more flavor, but I still ate about 6.
Shanghailander pan fried buns (2014 & 12/9/18). A fried version of same. So hot they were hard to eat, but oh so tasty.
2003 Bennett Lane Cabernet Sauvignon Primus Reserve.
Shanghai duck (2014). Like Peking duck but… well not quite as good.
Same dish 12/9/18. Prep was more elaborate and I think it was better.
Stir fried duck (2014 & 12/9/18). Delicious.
Three cup chicken. They have a perfect version here, even if this isn’t my favorite dish.
Cumin lamb with pancakes (12/9/18). Different and quite nice in the pancake.
French style beef. This gets order too often (not by me!)
Vegetables. Some kind of greens, mushrooms, and bamboo.
Spicy eggplant with garlic and fish sauce (12/9/18). Fish sauce is just the name of this kind of sauce. This was a great version. Nice soft texture and TONS of garlicky flavor.
Eggplant in sweet soy sauce. A very different take on eggplant.
1997 Greenock Creek Cabernet Sauvignon. 93 points. Pretty dark purple color, showing some sign of age towards the rim. Very expressive nose of dark fruits (black currant/cassis, blackberries and blueberries), some elderflower berries, a touch of green bell peppers, some cedar wood and some sweet spices. Hits the palate with a full body, medium-low silky tannins and medium (to medium-low) acidity. There is tons of dark fruit on the palate, cassis and some sweet spices again. This is a pretty massive wine with good length. There is a touch of heat, but it’s not really disturbing since the fruit is very generous. Not the most complex wine, but powerful, balanced and totally mature now. It’s drinking really beautifully.
Glass noodles with egg (12/9/18). Very pleasant.
Pepper rib eye with lettuce (12/9/18). Fine, but not my favorite. Not as typically Chinese somehow either.
Shanghai style eel in pot. This was delicious. Soft and rich in a savory slightly sweet sauce. I tried to order it on 12/9/18 and our (very nice) waitress kept dodging the order under the theory that we white folk wouldn’t like it!
Oftentimes a soup comes right before dessert, in this case a cabbage and pork meatball soup.
The meatball was amazing and thee broth was tasty.
Shanghai Noodles. Wokked with soy sauce.
The the Chinese desserts like these deep fried red beep spring rolls (12/9/18). Chewy in texture.
Sesame ball in wine soup. This is one of those odd sweet Chinese “soups.”
You can see the boba-like sesame balls. They were squishy and had a pleasant sesame taste. All very sweet and mild.
The first of many large batch holiday flavors — Peppermint Gelato (12/9/18) — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — peppermint candy base laced with peppermint bark! — #SweetMilkGelato #gelato #IceCream #peppermint #candy #holiday #winter
A new variant on an old flavor — Cold Pressed Expresso Gelato (12/9/18) — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — cold pressed expresso base (usually I hot brew it) with Valrhona Dulcey Stracciatella! — #SweetMilkGelato #gelato #IceCream #expresso #Dulcey #Valrhona #Stracciatella #ColdPressed #ColdPressedCoffee #coffee
Grapefruit Aperol Tarragon Sorbetto (9/11/21) — Cold pressed Fresh Grapefruit juice from my garden, Aperol and fresh Tarragon! — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — Unique and bracing — #SweetMilkGelato #gelato #dessert #icecream #FrozenDessert #nomnom #dessertlovers #dessertporn #icecreamlovers #gelatoitaliano #foodporn #gelatolover #food #foodgasm #foodblogger #dessertgasm #desserttime #foodphotography #gelatoartigianale #gelatomania #dessertlover #icecream #icecreamlovers #sorbetto #grapefruit #aperol #tarragon
Coconut Cream Pie Gelato (9/11/21) — Coconut dairy custard base, house-made GF Graham Crackers, and house-made Coconut Caramel — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — #dessert #icecream #FrozenDessert #nomnom #dessertlovers #dessertporn #icecreamlovers #gelatoitaliano #foodporn #gelatolover #food #foodgasm #foodblogger #dessertgasm #desserttime #foodphotography #gelatoartigianale #gelatomania #dessertlover #icecream #icecreamlovers #coconut #caramel #grahamCrackers #cookies
Yarom and the owner on 12/9/18.
All in all, our 2014 was a fabulous Chinese banquet. Perhaps it is slightly better even than the similar Shanghai #1 Seafood village. The drive is killer though, as it’s 15 miles PAST our usual SGV haunts.
On our 12/9/18 return the meal was insanely good. Almost every dish was on point and many were unusual. Food was really really good. Service was great too but this was certainly the best Shanghai style food I’ve had outside of China — and this is just a couple months after my most recent visit to Shanghai and incredible means like Shanghai Tang. Shanghailander has an Arcadia branch too and we will also have to try that — although it’s not clear if that’s really closer as it’s so far north off the 10.
For more LA Chinese reviews click here.
or more crazy Hedonist dinners here!
Some members of our party posing in front right before foot massage — 2014.