Sunday in Northern CA – Dinner

After I pointed out and he passed a bunch of places to eat on the way back from Point Reyes, Art said he had a place in mind, good Chinese. Fine. He is ethnic Chinese, grew up in the Philippines, and knows Chinese.

So we head down the 101 to Millbrae, and exit into an ethnic wonderland. Chinese shops, produce vendors, various restaurants, all rolled into a sleepy downtown area (on a sunday night).

We parked in a municipal parking lot, and walked a few blocks to the Shanghai Dumpling Shop. We entered, a waiter looked up, Art flashed two fingers, and the waiter motioned to a booth.

The interior is bright yellow, and over the kitchen is a bright red roof. Nothing dark here. Tables in the middle of groups. We arrived early, and people kept coming in, mostly Asian but many other ethnicities, brought together by good food. A nice place. A woman came out of a back room with a huge bowl full of something ground. I suppose it was dumpling filling.

The menu was a trip. Their translator was obviously not familiar with English, or not a marketing major, or he would not have “Boiled Tendon” or “Pork Esophagus” on the menu. My favorite was the three types of eels. Ick. Art says the fried ones are like fried calamari. I could do that.

Art and I got the Xiao Long Bao (Shanghai Soup Dumplings), which were excellent, served in a bamboo steamer right off the pot, and the Green Onion Pancake, which was really a round flat french Fry, also good, but very dense as some reviewers have mentioned. Then we split the beef in satay sauce over rice noodles, cooked in a clay pot, bubbling. Yum. We thought about the sesame chicken, but I can get that at home. Then again, I might just go back and try it. No booze, but lots of good tea.

Leaving, we stopped in Dean’s Produce next door, and picked up some apples and plums. Lots of interesting cheeses, and Romanian and European stuff. Olive oils. Made me wish I did not have to pay $100 to fly it all home.

Then Art suggested a Chinese ice cream parlor, so we walked three blocks to the Sweet Indulgence Dessert Cafe at the corner of Broadway and La Cruz. We walked in and the place was empty. It hat bright color, funky plastic cone furniture and a collection of manga toys in the case by the counter. Posters of the drinks on the wall so you could point and ask. A cute Asian woman came out from the back and I asked her what was good. Art explained that I was from Chicago. That said it all.

She recommended the jasmine tea with tapioca. I don’t remember details, but it came cold or hot with balls of tapioca in the bottom, with a big fat straw to suck it down. So as you slurp, the balls of tapioca slide up the straw (thanks to the angled cut at the bottom of the straw. That took me a while to figure out). The tea (with cream) was good, the tapioca was interesting, but tasty. Kind of fun. Art had some sort of shake. There was a case with what looked a lot like gelato, but the flavors of Red Bean and seaweed did not sound like gelato I know…

We went back and talked with her at the anime filled counter. She is a Hong Konger, owns the place with the other woman in the back, and they are struggling with everyone else on the block with the economy. Then a bunch of kids came in and ordered tea and stuff from the case.

She is going to Chicago to study at a French pastry school. For 5 days. Then she has to come back and work. Late nights. I give her a lot of credit. She wants to go to France to learn pastries. I do wish her well.

Shanghai Dumpling Shop – 455 Broadway – Millbrae, CA
Dean’s Produce – 451 Broadway – Millbrae, CA
Sweet Indulgence Dessert Cafe – 298 Broadway – Millbrae, CA

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