In review: Shanghai Bistro
When you think of cheap Asian cuisine, you might picture Jade Garden, Quick Wok or China Buffet. However, while these restaurants are delicious and affordable, they wouldn’t be first on a list of places I would take a date. But with Shanghai Bistro, 2930 Craig Rd., food options are numerous, the service is great and prices are extremely low given the high quality of food. On top of that, this Asian restaurant offers up an impressive atmosphere, complete with live jazz music every Friday night performed by various local artists, that only enhances the enjoyability of the food.
When I first looked at the menu, I noticed the various dishes of beef, chicken, pork and seafood weren’t even half of what Shanghai has to offer in terms of entrees. Other menu choices include duck, six different vegetarian dishes, noodles and the ever-tasty plethora of sushi. Appetizers included crab rangoon, fried wonton, beef teriyaki and soup. I found the sushi list to be very interesting and for a price between $4 and $6 for two pieces of yellow tail, tuna, octopus or freshwater eel, I was eager to try at least one sea-dwelling creature wrapped in wasabi and rice.
Drinks, as always is the case at a quality restaurant, were a little pricey, so venture at your own risk. However, Shanghai features Sushi Happy Hour every Monday through Friday from 3 to 5 p.m., where you can get sake bombs for $1 with your sushi. But on a regular dinner night, entree prices range from $6 to $9 while appetizers are priced from $3 to $6 a plate.
I ordered the $7 Kung Pao chicken complete with red chili peppers, unsalted cashews and peanuts, along with various vegetables mixed together in a perfectly spicy peppered sauce. The person I was with decided to order the mixed vegetables stir-fried in a garlic-wine sauce. Within 15 minutes or so, both plates were brought out and I was amazed at how much food was packed onto a 10 inch saucer. The restaurant also offers free rice at your table, which is refilled almost immediately after it is emptied. I also ordered two pieces of yellow tail sushi for $5 and the person I was with decided on a $4 tuna platter.
The Kung Pao chicken was spicy, but fortunately not enough to take away from the peanuts, cashews and sweetened chicken complementing the dish underneath the sauce. It took me a pretty long time to get through all the food on the plate, which for $7 is something you want to happen at a restaurant. The mixed vegetables featured some vegetables that aren’t normally used in a stir fry, but it seemed as if that only made the food taste more authentic.
If you’re just looking for a lunch special or two, Shanghai features $4 to $6 lunch specials from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. complete with the soup of the day and Chinese bread as side dishes.
Shanghai’s atmosphere is one if its main draws. There are many different Asian veils and art designs scattered in places around the restaurant. The music was quiet and the lighting was down to a darker, mood-oriented setting. The sushi bar is connected to the drink bar, which makes it interesting to watch your sushi being prepared during Happy Hour or any other time you might be curious as to how they cut your raw fish.
All in all, Shanghai Bistro is a great place to go if you’re going on a date or just plain want to grab some lunch or dinner with friends. The atmosphere is inviting and caters to a wide range of audiences, which only increased its appeal for me.