Guess who’s going on holiday to Shanghai this fall? Yep! The Astronomer and I recently booked our flights, which reminded me of this most excellent Shanghainese dinner that we shared with Diep a few months back. Located in the same busy San Gabriel strip mall as Golden Deli and Ton Chan Ramen, Southern Mini Town came highly recommended to me by my friend Tsz.
Seemingly less splashy than its northern, western, and southern Chinese counterparts, Shanghai cuisine satisfies with subtlety and finesse rather than a double punch of sodium and spice. Sometimes, it’s just what I crave.
A ‘lil dish of salty peanuts covered in seaweed, as well as hot tea, arrived with the menus. A classic Shanghainese start.
Next on the scene was a platter of fresh-from-the-fryer “Fried Seaweed Yellow Fish.” The fish, coated in an airy, tempura-like batter flecked with green algae, were crisp-tender and completely addictive sprinkled with a bit of coarse salt. These are the kind of fish sticks that I can really get behind.
The “Sautéed Finless Eel,” a mountain of baby eels coated in a thick and shiny brown sauce, hit the table soon after. This dish wasn’t the easiest on the eyes, but we’re not the squeamish types, so we spooned the baby eels onto steamed white rice and dug right in.
I liked how the seasonings here were well-balanced enough that the squirmy suckers could be eaten straight up if we so desired.
Shanghai-style rice cakes are a passion of mine, and this soy sauce-less rendition with pork and preserved vegetables was excellent.
An order of xiao long bao (soup dumplings) is essential at every Shanghainese feast. The ones served here are steamed to order with pliable skins and scalding innards. These weren’t the best soup dumplings ever, but we didn’t really mind.
For dessert, we took the fragrant and floral “Osman Sesame Rice Ball with Wine Soup” for a spin. The little tapioca balls filled with black sesame paste melted in our mouths. I could’ve eaten the entire warm and boozy bowlful solo. Mmm, osthmanthus blossoms.
The eats in Shanghai better be as tasty as their San Gabriel counterparts. Full report to come.
Southern Mini Town
833 West Las Tunas Drive
San Gabriel, CA 91776
There’s more to eat in San Gabriel on Gastronomy:
- Bánh Mì & Chè Cali – San Gabriel
- Chung King Restaurant – San Gabriel
- Cơm Tấm Thuận Kiều – San Gabriel
- Ducks Restaurant – San Gabriel
- Golden Deli – San Gabriel
- Hà Tiên Quán – San Gabriel
- Hui Tou Xiang Noodles House – San Gabriel
- Kingburg Kitchen – San Gabriel
- Lucky Noodle King – San Gabriel
- Luscious Dumplings Inc. – San Gabriel
- Nha Trang – San Gabriel
- Omar’s Xinjiang Halal Restaurant – San Gabriel
- Phở Nguyễn Hoàng – San Gabriel
- Saigon’s Bakery & Sandwiches – San Gabriel / San Jose
- Sweethome Grill – San Gabriel
- Ton Chan Ramen – San Gabriel
- Vietnam House – San Gabriel
- Vietnam Restaurant – San Gabriel
- Wedding Banquet Redux at New Capital Seafood
- Yum Cha Cafe – San Gabriel