Best Chinese San Francisco 2008 - Shanghai House
Shanghai House is a tiny, gleaming white box, cash-only, that doesn't take reservations (except for large parties), doesn't offer alcohol, doesn't have a Web site, and is way the hell out on Balboa. But aficionados of Chinese cuisine should beat a path to its door to sample its fresh and exciting food, especially its Shanghainese specialties. Be sure to ask to see both of the menus. One features well-done but familiar dishes such as mu-shu pork and kung pao chicken (we love the dry chicken wings, which are actually quite moist under their sticky sweet glaze); the other, labeled "Dim Sum and Shanghai Specials," yields such treats as Shanghai steamed baby dumplings (aka soup dumplings), the many-layered silver thread roll (which we prefer fried rather than steamed, for a thin crackling crust), delicate braised fish in heady rice-wine sauce, and the must-try order-ahead pig's knuckle dishes, either salt-and-pepper or with brown sauce.