Monday, July 14, 2008

Lunch #60: Shanghai Garden

Shanghai Garden Today the MSG150 route took us around the last corner. We continued on Weller, west from Tropics, and turned north on 6th to find the entrance of Shanghai Garden. We showed up with a large crowd of twelve today and were seated right away.

Shanghai Garden, Seattle
Address: 524 6th Ave S, Seattle, WA, 98104
Cuisine: Chinese
Average rating: 3.7 chopsticks
Lunch date: 7/14/2008 @ 11:50:00
Time taken to be seated: 0 minutes
Time to take order: 7 minutes
Time for food to arrive: 7 minutes
Total lengh of meal: 49 minutes
Chopstix quality: Nice Plastic
Do they use MSG?: No
Where is the owner/chef from?: Taiwan
Number of tables: 17
Number of occupied tables: 17 (100%)
Number of business lunch tables: 13 (76%)
Number of "local" tables: 2 (11%)
Healthcode Score: 0
Links: Yelp!, Urbanspoon
Shanghai Garden

Luncher: Emmett

Szechuan Beef in Hot Garlic Sauce (Lunch Special)Lunch: Szechuan Beef in Hot Garlic Sauce (Lunch Special) - $6.95
Fortune: You have an ambitious nature and may make a name for yourself.
Rating: 4 Chopsticks

Emmett's Review

Back from vacation (where I ate Italian food for two weeks), I was ready for some serious MSG. What better place than Shanghai Garden? I've been to this place many a time before, and while I wouldn't count them amongst the healthiest of places to eat, their sauces are savory and delicious. They get crowded, so our party of 12 got there pre-noon to snag a massive table. And my friend Fitz, long a fan of MSG and soon to be married, finally joined in on the fun with his buddy Adam.

I went with lunch option #1, the Szechuan Beef in Hot Garlic Sauce. They put liberal amounts of sauce, water chestnuts, beef, with a smattering of veggies. The sauce was garlicky, spicy, monosodium glutamatey, and delicious. I was sweating after a couple of bites; that's how you know it's good.

I tried their noodles for the first time - both the Chow Mein and the Green Barley Shaved Noodles. They were incredible! Not overly sauced, light tasting, flavorful, with great texture. I believe they're hand made and they're out of this world. I'll definitely be back to order a full plate of these. The rest of the dishes were grubbin' - decent General Tso's, good hot/sour soup, Szechuan Pork.

Also noteworthy from previous visits is their beef with strawberries - very unique, sweet and savory at the same time, part main course, part dessert.

I try not to make this place a regular fixture in my diet, because my cardiologist would not approve. But once in a while - it's a nice treat.

Luncher: Adam

Barleygreen Hand Shaven Noodle with VegetablesLunch: Barleygreen Hand Shaven Noodle with Vegetables - $9.95
Fortune: There is a prospect of a thrilling time ahead for you.
Rating: 4 Chopsticks

Adam's Review

It feels good to be out "on the hunt" again. With Emmett's trip to Italy behind him... he can get back to eating some good food.

Rob and I couldn't make up our minds on a single dish, so we decided to split a couple of vegetarian dishes (gotta keep the gout in check). I ordered the famous hand shaven BarleyGreen noodles with Vegetables, and Rob got the Szechuan Tofu. Lets start with the noodles: delicious. This is the only place where I've ever had a noodle like this... and it's truly exceptional. And apparently they're high in protein too. The Szechuan Tofu was delicious. The spicy, sweet, and salty flavors of the Szechuan sauce really "struck a chord" with me, and I found myself having a hard time not licking the plate clean.

Luckily the plate made it out unscathed. I feel like this restaurant has a really good reputation, and it's definitely well deserved.

Luncher: Geary

Szechuan Pork in Hot Garlic Sauce (Lunch Special)Lunch: Szechuan Pork in Hot Garlic Sauce (Lunch Special) - $6.95
Fortune: You have an ambitious nature and may make a name for yourself.
Rating: 3 Chopsticks

Geary's Review

I resisted the urge to order one of the hand shaven noodles (you, however, shouldn't resist) and went with one of the lunch specials as per our prime directive. I chose the Szechuan Pork in Hot Garlic Sauce. The waiter returned almost immediately with a large soup bowl and ladled small bowls of Hot & Sour Soup for all of us with lunch specials. The H&SS was different than most I have had and I wasn't a huge fan. It was overly sour without much spice. The mushrooms were nice though.

The main courses started arriving only moments after the soup was served. Most of the non-veg folks chose to offer their lunches up to the lazy susan to be shared family style. I stated with my choice, Szechuan Pork in Hot Garlic Sauce. It was very sour and tangy, like the H&SS, but not so much hot. It was not a bit hit with me. Unfortunately we ended up with one Beef and one mixed Beef and Chicken version of the same thing. Luckily Ben shared up his hand shaven noodles, which were amazing, and Wayne shared up his Shrimp in Black Bean Sauce, which was the best of the lunch specials. Both the green and beige versions of the hand shaven noodles were excellent. They are thick and firm and were served with a light sauce that didn't overpower.

I have had some great dishes at Shanghai Garden, but none of them were form the lunch menu. I'm going to have to go with three chopstick for the lunch menu. However, you are not bound by rule #2. You can get a 4+ chopstick meal here by skipping up a page to the full entrees and being sure to include some hand shaven noodles.

Luncher: Wayne

Shrimp with Black Bean Sauce (Lunch Special)Lunch: Shrimp with Black Bean Sauce (Lunch Special) - $7.95
Fortune: You will receive a promotion soon.
Rating: 4 Chopsticks

Wayne's Review

I love the ease with which Chinese restaurants in the International District can accommodate a large group. We showed up with an even dozen and were led straight to a large, round table already set with twelve chairs and a Lazy Susan in the middle.

The shrimp I chose was one of their 20 lunch specials. I didn’t care much for the soup that came with it, but my shrimp was great. It consisted of nice, big shrimp, neither over or under cooked, with veggies, mushrooms and a simple, tasty black bean sauce. Yum.

Luncher: Ben the Intern

General Tso's Chicken (Lunch Special)Lunch: General Tso's Chicken (Lunch Special) - $6.95
Fortune: You will have good luck and overcome many hardships
Rating: 4 Chopsticks

Ben the Intern's Review

Shanghai Garden was excellent. I ordered the General Tso's chicken hoping for the best, and I was not disappointed. The chicken, all too often smothered in mushy fried stuff, was thinly coated with an excellent amount of crisp. The sauce was a tangy orange flavor and a bit lighter then what I typically associate with the dish. Overall a very satisfying experience; very tasty, 4/5 sticks.

Luncher: Michael

Szechuan Chicken and Beef in Hot Garlic Sauce (Lunch Special)Lunch: Szechuan Chicken and Beef in Hot Garlic Sauce (Lunch Special) - $7.95
Fortune: You will be unusually successful in business.
Rating: 4 Chopsticks

Michael's Review

Shanghai Garden. It's the place you take your out of town friends when you want to show them Seattle's 'china town'.

Shanghai Garden. It's the place that everyone always says the same thing: "Dude, have you had the hand shaved barley green noodles?".

Shanghai Garden. Been there. Done that. Whatever. I thought the whole point of this MSG 150 thing was to find all the 'sekret' spots in the ID where you wouldn't normally eat. Cause you know, 'sekret' really means better when it comes to Chinese food. Right? Cause then you could say: "Dude, I was totally into this restaurant before it got all popular and sold out".

But here we are. And according to the rules we have to eat here. At the most boring place. The Chinese restaurant that every Uptight Seattlite and MSG-Junkie in the city knows about.

The problem is this: It's really good. Really freakin good. And those stupid hand shaved barley noodles that everyone always talks about? They are really tasty. You've got to try them.

For a really good lunch special it's hard to beat Shanghai Garden. It's crowded, and hot, and the specials are a bit more than some of the other places. But it's good. And you know you need some of those fancy green noodles.

Luncher: Joey

General Tso's Chicken (Lunch Special)Lunch: General Tso's Chicken (Lunch Special) - $6.95
Fortune: Your ideas will be needed to solve a problem.
Rating: 2 Chopsticks

Joey's Review

I don't remember the last time I ordered General Tso's, but I thought I'd give this one a shot. It was kind of like orange chicken at Panda Express, but I found the sauce to be overwhelmingly tangy. I'd prefer orange chicken over this stuff.

Luncher: Rob

Fried Bean Curd in Szechuan SauceLunch: Fried Bean Curd in Szechuan Sauce - $9.50
Fortune: Your love life will be happy and harmonious.
Rating: 4 Chopsticks

Rob's Review

At long last, we finally made it to the Garden. Adam sat a little too close to me, but it all worked out for the best. He ordered the hand-shaved barleygreen noodles with vegetables and I the fried bean curd with Szechuan sauce -- two veggie dishes that we were able to share. The main drawback, however, was everybody calling us the "Tofu Twins." The hand-shaved noodles were noodly goodness, as the saying goes. Fresh, tasty, just the right amount of chewiness, and green. The tofu dish was fairly spicy, and I may have dolloped a bit too much hot sauce on the noodles -- Michael across the table could see the beads of sweat rolling down my forehead. Broccoli, snow peas, and green onions accompanied the fried tofu in the flavorful, spicy sauce. What more could one want? Oh yeah, my fortune. It's about time.

Luncher: Ben

Hand Shaven Chow Mein Noodles with ChickenLunch: Hand Shaven Chow Mein Noodles with Chicken - $7.50
Fortune: You will exceed your expectations.
Rating: 4 Chopsticks

Luncher: Jared

Crispy Beef with Orange Flavor (Lunch Special)Lunch: Crispy Beef with Orange Flavor (Lunch Special) - $7.95
Fortune: There is a prospect of a thrilling time ahead for you.
Rating: 4 Chopsticks

VIP Luncher: Fitz from NoFriday.com

Barleygreen Hand Shaven Noodles with ChickenLunch: Barleygreen Hand Shaven Noodles with Chicken - $9.95
Fortune: There will be true and sincere friendship between you both.
Rating: 4 Chopsticks

Fitz's Review

I finally had the honor of joining my friend Emmett and the MSG 150 crew for lunch at Shanghai Garden- I actually had other lunch plans with my friend Adam from out of town, but when Emmett texted me shortly before I was about to meet Adam, I didn't want to miss out and decided to bring Adam along for the ride.

I've been to this restaurant quite a lot, as it's half a block from the office building I used to work at. We go often because the food is consistently good, reasonably authentic, fast, and well-priced. I hadn't been in a few months since I am not quite as close, so I was excited to go back.

We had a large group and I arrived a bit late, so I ordered my personal favorite from Shanghai Garden, the hand shaved barley noodles with chicken. The barley noodles are one of my favorite dishes and one of their specialties. They are similar in some ways to fettuccine, but a lot thicker. These noodles were made with barley, which gives them a green color and makes them a little healthier. That's nice, but I like it because it's delicious - I really like the extra substance and flavor that the barley gives the noodle.

The dish is served together, stir-fry style, with sauteed pieces of chicken breast, mixed vegetables, bits of scrambled egg, and a light oil and soy sauce. It's really tasty and unique - I haven't seen anything like it elsewhere. I also like that it doesn't sink in your stomach that way some over-fried (but tasty) dishes like General Tso's chicken sometimes can. The only thing I didn't like was that the scrambled egg wasn't broken up terribly well, and it felt a bit more like noodles with a side of scrambled eggs, rather than having the eggs fully mixed in. This was pretty minor though.

Shanghai Garden is an easy four chopsticks - I definitely plan on going back. For me, it falls a good bit short of the wow factor needed to earn five, but it's a place that I'm always happy to eat at.

VIP Luncher: Adam T from Canada

Hand Shaven Chow Mein Noodles with VegetablesLunch: Hand Shaven Chow Mein Noodles with Vegetables - $7.50
Fortune: Your place in the path of life is in the driver's seat.
Rating: 3 Chopsticks

Adam T's Review

The handmade noodles are a rarity, and I appreciated their soft fresh texture. The sauce was fine, but by no means exceptional. The dish lacked any quantity of real hearty vegetables, such as broccoli, which is important to a vegetarian. Menu lacks vegetarian options. Atmosphere was classic mom-and-pop Chinese-immigrant style and often overcrowded.

Shanghai Garden Photos

Shanghai Garden
Shanghai Garden

The ladling of the H&SS
The ladling of the H&SS

Hand Shaven Chow Mein Noodles with Vegetables
Hand Shaven Chow Mein Noodles with Vegetables

Hand Shaven Chow Mein Noodles with Chicken
Hand Shaven Chow Mein Noodles with Chicken

Barleygreen Hand Shaven Noodle with Vegetables
Barleygreen Hand Shaven Noodle with Vegetables

Fried Bean Curd in Szechuan Sauce
Fried Bean Curd in Szechuan Sauce

General Tso's Chicken
General Tso's Chicken

Szechuan Pork in Hot Garlic Sauce
Szechuan Pork in Hot Garlic Sauce

Shrimp in Black Bean Sauce
Shrimp in Black Bean Sauce

Szechuan Beef in Hot Garlic Sauce
Szechuan Beef in Hot Garlic Sauce

Crispy Beef with Orange Flavor
Crispy Beef with Orange Flavor

Barleygreen Hand Shaven Noodles with Chicken
Barleygreen Hand Shaven Noodles with Chicken

Szechuan Beef & Chicken in Hot Garlic Sauce
Szechuan Beef & Chicken in Hot Garlic  Sauce

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

The summary box states that the MSG is not used in the cooking, however Emmert's review kept touting about his MSG laden dish.

Anonymous said...

Where's the review and photo of the beef with strawberries dish?

zenspider said...

WHAT?!?

I can't believe you gave Shanghai Garden only 3.7. The one place with better General Tzo's was Dong Kong Lau (may she rest in peace) and Joey gives it a 2???

Fire Joey or MSG150 is DTM.

tri said...

I agree with the poster above - surprisingly low score overall! Next time get the moo shu pork - they roll them for you at the table and hands down the best I've had.

Anonymous said...

Be sure to try 14 flavor bean curd. Yum!