I ’m not a fan of mock meat, but the vegetarian “goose” at Shanghai House isn’t meant to imitate meat; in fact, it looks and tastes nothing like goose – and I’m obsessed with it.
On my days off from food critiquing, I usually eat vegetarian. I often go to Shanghai House with Northside San Francisco photographer Iris Rowlee, who is a fulltime vegetarian. I’d had veggie goose at other Shanghainese restaurants (it’s a common Shanghainese dish), mostly served cold, and while I’ve always liked it, I never dreamt about it – until I tried the warm, crispy version at Shanghai House. Layers of bean curd are stuffed with sautéed mushrooms; it’s fried golden brown and then cut into slices. The earthy mushrooms combined with the sweet bean curd are an addictive combination, and the crunchy “skin” is more satisfying than some fried chicken I’ve had.
Shanghai House also does an excellent job with one of the most revered Shanghai gastronomic exports, xiao long bao (lots of broth and not too much meat with a fairly thin skin) as well as classics like dry sautéed string beans and an array of noodle soups (and for 50 cents extra you can get hard-to-find fresh, hand-cut noodles in your soup).
Shanghai House: 3641 Balboa Street (near 38th), 415-831-9288, cash only
– S. Reynolds