So my love took me out to Joe Shanghai's this week. He had been raving about this place, saying I HAD to try their soup dumplings, they make the best ever. And oh, the dry shredded beef was out of this fucking world. Well, fine. I'm as adventurous a foodie as the next guy, so let's go. Well, we got lucky by getting a table right away because holy shit on wheat toast, was this place overcrowded. In fact, overcrowded is an obcene understatement; it was consistently mobbed from the minute we walked in to the minute we left, which wasn't too far from closing time. It was just a constant, noisy, cramped, loud ass flow of tourists.
Don't get me wrong, there's a reason business is booming- their food is delicious. Greasy, cheap and full of gristle, but delicious. Let me tell you, I've made my own soup dumplings at home, and there's no reason the soup to oil ratio should have been that off-balance. Plus, in recent months due to my diet I've been cutting down on meat.
So as a result, I was very disappointed that they didn't have more vegetarian options. They're known for their soup dumplings and they don't have a Veggie variety? Exponential fail, guys. I can go across the street from my house and get a half dozen real, fresh Veggie dumplings sans the grease for less than half what you charge for your pork and immitation seafood aborted love child slop. What the hell are you so afraid of vegetarian options for? You can totally load up a Veggie dumplings with just as much grease and charge just as much as you do your other two flavors. And yeah, the selection was far from vast, but I eventually decided on the fried Veggie rice cake. It wasn't at all what I expected. I was hoping for more of a rice pancake with veggies in it, but instead got a Veggie and rice coin stir-fry with tofu. That was the only part I didn't eat. Still tasty, but still grease-laden as fuck. Its no goddamn wonder my stomach is being torn to ribbons today. Ugh.
On a good note, the red bean shortcake, which again is mislabeled, was very, very good. Its a puff pastry with azuki bean paste that's lava-hot, coated with black toasted sesame seeds on the bottom and absolutely worth burning the shit out of your tongue on. I would make the trip back to chinatown and have the hershey squirts all over again just for another one of those puppies... but like, I live in Brooklyn so I don't have to. Best part? The places around here won't make me sick as a dog!
Bottom line, if you want good Chinese food, especially if you're watching your weight, stay the hell away from Joe Shanghai's. And for Fuck's sake, don't take everything you see on yelp.com as gospel.