Little Shanghai Restaurant
17 East 25th Ave (Near El Camino Real)
San Mateo, CA 94403
Best Shanghainese Chinese restaurant in San Francisco? Little Shanghai Restaurant is a family run Shanghainese Chinese Restaurant in San Mateo near the San Mateo Fairgrounds. They have the usual Americanized Chinese dishes along with a fair amount of Traditional Shanghai dishes not served in most restaurants. Our last visit was in Fall 2017.
Decor, Vibe – Little Shanghai Restaurant is a small, cramped restaurant with low ceilings, bare decor, and a smattering of pictures on the wall. Waiters were racing around. Lots of Asian families as well as a good amount of non Asians were dining especially at lunch time. The place is extremely loud and hectic during the weekends. Not very romantic! It maybe intimidating to novices, but they do speak English. Sometimes? always?, getting to go is better than eating here.
Little Shanghai Restaurant Menu (Click to zoom into any picture)
As expected, prices have risen a dollar or two every year or so. They used to be available on Door Dash, but bailed after the fees started to add up. Be sure to ask about the frozen dumplings they have for sale.
Little Shanghai Food Picks:
Ji Cai and Pork with rice cakes ($8.95) are a classic noodle dish and done well here. Lots of pork and tender rice cakes. Eat them fast or else they will get hard and stick together! We prefer this over the Shanghai Rice Cakes with beef, which are on the boring side. As left overs you need to pan warm them to unstick the rice cube.
Chicken and Wonton casserole ($14.95) was a dish we saw on a friends table that looked delectable, so we ordered it also. Half a chicken along with lots of Shanghai bok choy, and ji cai and pork filled wontons in a moderately flavorful 2 hr boiled broth. On another occasion, when they ran out of chicken, we ordered the duck and bamboo shoots version, which was slightly inferior. This dish may sell out so order early. It is a large dish, so bring friends
Xiao Long Bao ($6.95 for 8) were hot out of the steamer and had a thick wrapper and not a lot of flavorful hot soup inside. Soup flavor was very meaty. Meat filling was plentiful and good. Very good but not spectacular.
We would rank these slightly above of Shanghai Dumpling Shop in Millbrae. Yank Sing in San Francisco and Din Tai Fung are superior ahead. They run out of these in the later hours of the evening. Frozen versions are available.
- Check out our Best Xiao Long Bao Soup Dumpling List
Sauteed Prawns Shanghai Style ($13.95) is a signature dish and done very well. A must get! Lots of shrimp cooked perfectly. We do not have river shrimp like they do in Shanghai, so this is a slight deviation of the classic dish.
Dry cooked string beans ($8.95) had good amounts of well cooked and fresh string beans just enough flavoring. Also not too greasy as they were quickly deep fried.
Jellyfish ($5.95) is a nice cold appetizer. Good amounts of crunchy jellyfish on a bed of julienned cucumber and bits of cilantro. Better quality Jellyfish from the head area.
Westlake Soup ($6.95) with tender minced meat, cilantro, and other ingredients was very good. Fresh and hot, it hit the spot.
Baked Rice with salted pork and Vegetables ($7.95) for a big pot of nicely done rice with Shanghai bok choy and bits of pork. Definitely one of the best versions in the San Francisco Bay Area. We have failed to find a better one.
Sweet and sour spareribs Shanghai style ($8.95) in a brown sweetish sauce had fall off the bone tender pork.
Shanghai Style Chow Mein ($5.95) had very well done, egg-based thicker noodles in a soy sauce, green onion sauce.
Noodles with dried onion and small shrimp ($3.95) is a classic informal/street food dish in China. These homemade eggless noodles are served cold with a good amount of grease and lots of onion flavor.
Fried Roll or Man Tou ($2.95) for 4 small but tasty freshly fried buns with a condensed milk dipping sauce. We Needed to ask for more dipping sauce after 2 buns.
Eight Treasure Sweet rice pudding ($5.95) was very good. The rice was thoroughly cooked, sweetness just right, and little accent flowers were sprinkled on top. It takes 20 minutes, so order it and tell them to deliver the dish as it comes.
Mini sesame dumplings in Rice wine sauce ($4.95) was an excellent dish with good wine flavor in the soup and lots of tiny marble size dumplings filled with black bean. Perfect balance of not too much sweetness.
OK: (Order only if you like this dish)
Green Onion Pancake ($4.95) was a lot thinner than most versions. Not super crispy or greasy. Solid but not outstanding. A bit low on quantity.
Dong Po Pork ($9.95) was served in a large decorative pot. Good quantity and nice broth. It possessed a slight medicinal accent.
Pans: (Would not re-order)
Shanghai Fried Pork buns ($4.95 for 6) looked fair but had a very soft skin that was sticky. Not enough crispiness underneath, tons of meat inside, and no soup inside.
Little Shanghai Restaurant served us the food quickly but did not make any effort to refill water or tea. You pretty much have to bark at servers to get things done. The service was even worse during the busy lunch time, where we had to work hard to get our bill. Prices were pretty typical for this type of establishment. We would come back to try some of the more exotic items on the menu in a pinch.
Other Shanghai Restaurants of note
- Chef Zhao Kitchen in Palo Alto is also worth a visit if you like Shanghai Chinese food.
- Check out our Shanghai restaurant reviews for the real deal, Shanghai food that we have in the San Francisco Bay Area is not very close in quality.