Location: 1695 South Azusa Ave. Hacienda Heights, CA 91745. 626-839-7777
Date: June 7, 2014 and December 9, 2018
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.
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.
Lamb in jelly. Tastes better than it sounds.
A slightly different “meat jelly” on 12/9/18.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
Some members of our party posing in front right before foot massage — 2014.