The Shanghai Kitchen is located in the usual Festival spot across from the China Pavilion.
Like the Mexican Kitchen that preceded it, each of the food items are a new take on familiar flavors.
Pork and Vegetable Egg Rolls – $4
This is the best value in China this year – two sizable, piping-hot egg rolls stuffed with spicy pork and crunchy vegetables. They’d be close to a “must buy” if they were served with an interesting sauce, but your only options are packets of high-fructose-corn-syrup heavy”duck sauce” along with a salty soy sauce. Still, these are larger than usual and a filling snack.
Mongolian Beef Bao Bun and a Fortune Cookie – $6
That is not a giant, pre-packaged fortune cookie behind the “bao bun.”
Which makes this one of the most egregious entries into this year’s Holiday Festival. Worse, the two bites of beef that are included are tough and carry very little flavor outside of a mild, generic spice. The bun is flavorless. The price either needs to be halved or the dish needs a second bun to make this anywhere close to a worthy purchase. Avoid.
Celebration Barbecue Pork Rice Bowl and a Fortune Cookie – $6
This was significantly better than the Bao, but I’m not sure that it presents a lot of value unless you’ve never seen this variety of barbecue pork, which is a staple of most strip mall Chinese restaurants.
Otherwise, it’s about four slices of char siu pork in a thick, ketchup-heavy sauce with some five spice powder and hoisin that’s sweetened up with brown sugar. You could do worse for six bucks, but I don’t think there’s anything compelling here.
Mango Wine – $5
This is the same bottle of Mango Mamma from Florida Orange Groves Winery that has been a mainstay at many of the past few festivals. It’s a crisp, juicy, fruit-forward wine that would taste even better with spicier dishes. It’s “okay” but you can pick up a bottle locally for around $20.
Tsingtao Lager – $3.50
The ubiquitous Chinese Festival Lager, you have the opportunity to pick up half a bottle of Tsingtao for $3.50. If it doesn’t sound palatable, perhaps try it at the Flower and Garden Festival…or Food and Wine Festival…or in six locations around the Pavilion at any time of year.
Overall, the egg rolls are a decent selection, though similar offerings are available throughout the Pavilion every day. Nine Dragons is calling your name, anyway.