Occasionally, we like to get a few opinions on a restaurant. Here are two shorts from Cathy Siroka and James Gribbon on Shanghai Bistro.
If you’re in South Norwalk and want a simple, easy place to go before a movie or out with the kids – try Shanghai Asian Bistro. They recently opened a second location at 124 Washington St., with their first one in Westport at 1715 Post Rd East. Owner, John Jiang, had been carefully looking for a second location for years, and has seen such a huge change in the traffic and excitement in downtown Norwalk, and finally felt that “now was the right time.”
While the menu has the Chinese classics like shrimp with duck sauce and General Tsao’s chicken, the restaurant also offers an array of other Asian inspired dishes and many ways to customize your order according to your tastes and dietary preferences. Jiang explains his menu as “all-Asian, not just Chinese, a sampling of the flavors of China, Thailand, Vietnam and Japan.” Although I only sampled a few dishes, including the vegetable roll, pad thai and curried vegetables with chicken, the quality was there and the prices were right. Their most popular dish is the noodle bowl with vegetables and chicken, beef or tofu along with your choice of mild, curry, spicy or tangy sauce or broth…a fun and convenient way to get exactly what you want. -- Catherine Siroka
I barreled in through the doors of Shanghai the way I do most things, with absolutely no forethought at all, after coming over all peckish during a sunlit walk down Washington St. and seeing their chalkboard sign. Usually more "bar" than "table" anyway, I flopped down as the lone figure at the small sushi bar immediately to my right upon entering. The wait staff seemed genuinely excited to see someone sitting there, and were quite friendly, but my own enthusiasm was considerably tempered when none of them, including the chef and his assistant, recognized the word omakase. Doubting myself, I actually looked it up on my phone to make sure I was pronouncing it correctly.
I ordered the closest approximation on the menu, the sushi & sashimi dinner, and focused on putting theomakase business out of my head with the aid of Ozeki Dry. The dish or, more properly, "platter," arrived with a variegated, multilevel feast. Five pieces of sushi with the usual trimmings of wasabe and pink ginger, surrounded the base, along with a spicy tuna roll, and a lemon wedge whose rind had been artfully sliced to resemble something akin to the hand of a Balinese dancing girl. Beyond that, and rising toward the elevated flourish of herbal sprigs and tall leaves cut just so, were a further 15 pieces of sashimi. Some of the sashimi arrived as miniature steaks, some sliced thin and wrapped around fresh watercress, I believe it was, and still more atop a crisp bed of what may have been shredded radish. This last group was itself placed over a horizontal champagne flute and glowed coolly from within through use of a pale, blue LED light.
The fish itself, all of it, was fresh, firm and pleasing. The fact that it was early on a Friday evening probably helped, but my impression was that the staff at Shanghai legitimately care. I watched the chef teach his assistant a new trick, taking about five solid minutes to turn a whole cucumber into a small wishing well for the ornamentation of some other diners' meal. The above dinner, at $25, felt like stealing. -- James Gribbon
Catherine Siroka publishes Macaroni Kid, a local parenting newsletter (westport.macaronikid.com). She is also currently writing a children’s book on making healthy food choices for those with food sensitivities. When she’s eating chocolate , she welcomes your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can visit her atwww.westport.macaronikid.com.)
James Gribbon is our resident beer expert and Friday Froth columnist.