I've spoke lovingly of Dalston before, it's far from everyone's idea of a nice area but it does have some amazing food. The first thing most think of for food in Dalston is Turkish but tucked in amongst the masses of ocakbasis is a really rather nice Chinese restaurant. Shanghai used to be a jellied eel restaurant and one of the striking things about it when you first walk in is the remaining decor from this former guise: individual booths, lots of green tiles and the most fantastic mirrors adorned with metal eels on each side. Out back there's a great big, modern space but for me it's all about the front room.
I've eaten take away from here a few times and the menu's very interesting, there's no sweet and sour chicken balls here - more chicken with tofu and dried scallop, stir fried baby savoy cabbage and chargrilled 5 spice marinated pork belly to name three. I'd heard good things about their dim sum though and today I finally got around to eating some.
The first dish that came out was the honey pastry with barbecued pork and I was struck by the homemade look of them. I love Chinatown for dim sum but I find a lot of it can be very samey amongst restaurants, leading me to believe some of the dishes are bought in. With these I get the impression they're made on site. The pastry was flakey and the barbecued pork nice and sweet. As well as these we had char siu bao (more filling than dough, a good thing) and the soup filled sui long bao - in the mouth in one so the burst of liquid is swallowed as intended. Carrying on the meat theme the sha cha tripe was tripier tasting than most I'd had and the yam croquettes had a lot more yam than others I've eaten - the wispy outside something I'll have to learn to make one day.
Finishing off the food we had king prawn cheung fun -(good), fried turnip cake (good again) and my favourite dish of the day - paper wrapped prawn. I always order this dish in Chinatown and it's one of the dishes that are always the same no matter where I eat it, up until today that is. Normally you get a big balled of minced pork, wrapped in rice papper and deep fried. Here a couple of whole prawns were instead folded into neat rectangles of the stuff before being given a final band of seaweed and the deep frying treatment. They were so good, very meaty (prawny?) with a great bite from the seaweed.
With some chrysanthemum tea and service it was a very respectable £25 for two. Definitely somewhere I'll be going again and worth a trip if you live in any of the surround areas.