Friday, January 26, 2007

Dining critic candidate No. 42

Shanghai Cafe

(Yes, this appeared in the paper recently, as we'd asked notables in the community to fill in. The writer liked it so much, she wanted to be considered for the real job.)

The newest prominent gastronomic family in the Springs is named Tran. The Trans, who run Shanghai Cafe Chinese Cuisine, all did themselves proud for my family last Saturday night. As conductor of the Colorado Springs Philharmonic, I felt the strong urge to compare what they do with what I do.
We were greeted by Daniel, the general manager, who doubles as a waiter. He was really
the concertmaster. Brother Richard is the co-manager. Another brother, Andrew, is the owner (sort of like the executive director); then Mama Jessica and Papa Kevin, the chefs (sort of like co-conductors).
Let the symphony begin:
The First Movement: The Appetizers!
We chose two: the crab rangoons ($4.25 for 6) and two egg rolls, a buck apiece. These were both outstanding with vivace bounce and freshness. The egg roll was the moistest I have ever had and was molto leggiero (light). Both vegetarian and pork egg rolls are available.
The Second Movement: The Soups!
Egg drop soup ($1.50). A standard, but this had a depth of flavor that made you take notice, like a fine oboe playing a perfect A 440.
War Wonton Soup ($5.25 for two). War? It simply means it’s with meat, Papa Kevin explained. The jumbo shrimp, snow peas and dumplings were to die for.
The Third Movement: The Entrees!
Any food critic worthy of the podium always asks the chef to recommend his house specialties, and boy, did he! We began with a Duel Combo with Scallops ($11.50); I challenge
you to find more tender scallops anywhere. Next was a Mongolian Beef ($7.75) — cut from the most tender flank steak, seasoned perfectly — followed by Seafood Combination ($11.50); and folks, you could SEE the seafood.
Our beautiful 9-year-old, Shea Small, chose Vegetable Lo Mein ($6.75) and remarked that it was the best she’d ever had. However, the overwhelming applause goes to Sesame Chicken ($7.50 and worth twice that price). It had strong overtones of caramelized heaven, which brought down the house.
The Finale: A tour of the kitchen (we were allowed to go backstage.) It was spotless, with state-of-the-art facilities and a most charming family.
My recommendation as maestro: dine in, take out or have a party catered, but don’t miss out on this fabulous experience. A standing ovation is indeed in order. Bravissimo!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This review also seems too complimentary. And taking a tour of the kitchen, seemed weird to me. How can you be impartial if you're trying to make friends with the people you are reviewing?

3:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although the reviewer worked to give you the feeling of actually attending the restaurant and eating the food, the constant musical metaphor was distracting and confused the issue more than clearing it. No location or hours given. Descriptions didn't adequately detail the dishes, and other menu items were not even listed.

This may have been good enough for a guest column, but lacks the professionalism of an actual review.

4:15 PM  

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