Restaurant Review : Shanghai Bun in Point Loma

by on May 26, 2017 · 14 comments

in Ocean Beach

Restaurant Review

Shanghai Bun
1029 Rosecrans St.
San Diego, CA 92106
619-795-1700

If ever I wanted a restaurant to succeed this is the one. Point Loma/Ocean Beach has needed a good Chinese restaurant for years.

But let’s get one thing straight – the Shanghai Bun is not a Chinese restaurant in the true sense of the word. Rather, this is a Chinese Tapas Bar, with many Tapas, a few Chinese entrees, Seafood and Rice and Noodle offerings, a Meat and Poultry selection and a Vegetarian section offering 5 items.

There is a dessert section with 6 offerings and a lunch menu.  Prices on the menu begin at $5 and the most expensive menu price is $18.

(Editor: Judi Curry ate here twice recently, so what follows are actually two reviews.)

This review is slightly different than others that I have done, because even though I ate here on Wednesday, I had already made a luncheon date to eat here in two weeks with another friend.  Each of those lunches are being reviewed separately but on the same review.

FIRST VISIT: Portions are not large and the old adage of “feeling hungry after eating Chinese food” could be the case here.  Susi and I decided to split three orders of various Tapas.  We were going to order dessert but ran out of time.  She had been here two additional times and we wanted to order something that she had not had before.  While we were making up our minds, Blaine, our server, brought us a basket of shrimp puffed rice to nibble on.  It made our selection easier!

BBQ Beef buns

We each ordered a small bowl of vegetable egg drop soup, which was vegetable stock with eggs and mixed vegetables. ($8).  It was ok, but we each added some soy sauce to it for a little more flavor. The vegetables were not overcooked, and we were surprised to taste cilantro, carrots, mushrooms, beans, etc. We would order it again.

We also ordered BBQ Pork Buns  that were large and stuffed with BBQ pork.  Except that there was not much BBQ pork in them.  Rather, they were almost all bun and I noticed that both of us left some of the bun on our plate.

shrimp and pork dumplings

We placed an order for Shrimp dumplings (4) and they were small but tasty.  I wished they had been served at the same time as my soup, because I think they would have gone well with each other, but by the time they came I had already finished half of my soup.  We also had an order of shrimp and pork dumplings that we almost didn’t get.

Because the items are served as they are cooked, we waited some time before Susi told Blaine that we were still waiting for one of our orders.  When we told him what it was he apologized profusely and told us that he thought maybe he forgot to write it down. But that wasn’t the case, because he and I had a discussion about it and I saw him write it down.  It should be pointed out that even though Blaine took our orders, they were all delivered by kitchen personnel.

When Blaine went back to the kitchen to put in the order again, he came out and told us that the kitchen had somehow lost our order. But when the kitchen help delivered it to us she told us that it had been cooked but Blaine took it to the wrong table.  I am not sure that happened either, because Blaine didn’t do any of the delivering.  None-the-less, it was probably the best part of the orders we had – although it would have been nice if there had been a home-made dipping sauce instead of a bottled “dumpling sauce” on the table.

To drink I had lemonade. Susi asked if they now had iced tea, and Blaine said he was making it right then. He said he’d bring it in a pitcher to the table, but Susi pointed out that it was ice tea; not hot tea, and he brought her a glass that he continued to refill as was necessary.

Blaine was a good server; he was friendly; talkative; and kept asking us how things tasted.  I am not sure what the hang-up was in the kitchen, but I am pleased that I am doing another review next week.

The total for our lunch was $32.80, not including the tip.  And, of course, I am going back.

SECOND VISIT:  Today Deb and I went to the Shanghai Bun for lunch. I wanted to make sure that we did not order any of the orders from the first visit, and although we looked at the lunch menu, we still decided to order from the various Tapa’s on the menu.  (As an aside; the lunch menu consists of 11 items, ranging in price from $11-15.

There is a section called “Rice/Noodle/Soup” which has fried rice – $11; fried noodles $15, Seafood Noodles, $15 and egg drop soup – small bowl for $4; large for $6.)  There is also a three item “kids menu”, and organic milk listed.)  On the lunch menu there are three items marked “medium hot; and two items marked very spicy.”

After looking over the menu several times, Deb and I decided to order the egg flower soup to begin with.  But we had a question about it, for on the lunch menu the soup was listed as $4 for a small bowl and $6 for a large one.  On the tapas menu the egg flower soup was listed as $6 for a small bowl and $8 for a large one.  Lexy, our waitress, was not aware of the differences and we jokingly told her we wanted the large bowl at the cheaper price.  She said that the menu had just changed and she would point it out to the owner.  (As far as I could tell, the menu was the same one that was used when I was there with Susi.)

Beef Bulgogi Tacos

At Lexy’s suggestion, we tried the Beef Bulgogi Tacos, (grilled bulgogi, onions, cilantro, and jalapeno, wrapped in a lotus bun and topped with Hoison sauce; a scallion pancake – $4; Crispy chicken egg rolls (2 for $5); Handmade pork and napa cabbage pot stickers – 8 for $10.

Deb and I were given empty soup bowls and a bowl of soup was placed between us.  I asked if there was a spoon to divide the soup up with, but was told that all that was available was the soup spoon that we used to eat our soup with.  My immediate response was this is not very efficient, but Deb did a nice job of dividing the soup into our bowls. We had just begun to eat our soup when the Chicken Rolls arrived. (I know from other restaurants like this that everything is served as it comes out of the oven.  Even so, I would have liked the rolls to be hot when I eat them.)  The soup was ok; I think the recipe changed some from when I was here with Susi, for it didn’t have as much of the egg floating in it as before, and there were many fewer vegetables.  But it was hot, and on this cool day it was appreciated.

Potstickers

The chicken roll was crunchy, even though it was not as hot as I would have liked it to be.  The sauce – the only item we ordered that came with a sauce – was sweet and tangy and very tasty.  The pot stickers were ok; I put two in my soup but it was very difficult to cut and eat. (The chopsticks being used are the long Chinese ones – as contrasted to the shorter ones used in Japanese restaurants – and are not as easy for me to use as the shorter ones.)  They were average; nothing special to write about.

The Bulgogi Taco was the best of what we had ordered; a semi-sweet bun engulfed the tasty meat and the hoison sauce was tasty.  I did not detect any cilantro flavor, nor did I taste any jalapeno.  Deb remarked that she wished it were a little more spicy.

Before we ordered the scallion pancake we asked the waitress how big it was and how it was served.  We wondered if it were enough for both of us because there was only 1 of them.  She showed us with her hands approximately the size and told us it was enough for two.  When she delivered it she apologized that it was not as she had thought it would be, but it was ample for both of us. The problem was that it had no taste.  We both expected an onion flavor but it was lacking.  This was probably the biggest disappointment of our order.

Chicken rolls

There are several things that I found curious this time around. When Susi and I went we were given the shrimp puffs to nibble on while we were making our selection.  We were not given them this time.

The water was cloudy, cold, but no ice.  When we looked at the water dispenser it appeared to have lemon slices floating in it and we suspect that is why it was cloudy.  I would have liked to been asked – or told – that their water has lemon in it.  I realize this is picky, but, none-the-less I might have turned it down.  Also, by the time we were finished with our meal the water was quite warm and no longer refreshing.

I had to ask for a fork, and only one was brought to me. Deb looked at the server, who was very pleasant but seemed unfamiliar with the restaurant, and Lexy then asked her if she wanted a fork also.

scallion pancake

It was 12:30 pm when we were there; only 4 men at the bar and one table of 3 were occupied.  A single man came in later, but no one else was in the restaurant.  It was cold; fans going but the breeze was chilling.  There are at least 6 television sets on – all turned to something else but no volume on, and music playing.  (I always wonder why, when in an ethnic restaurant, ethnic music is not played.  It would be such a nice addition to the atmosphere.)

I wish that our orders had come with home-made sauces; the bottled soy’s and dumpling sauces on the table leave a lot to be desired.

Our total bill, not including the tip, came to $34.48.  We did not have anything to drink.

Would I go back again?  It grieves me to say “no.”  I have tried it twice; I did not find anything that would make we want to return again.  The food, in my opinion, was only fair; nothing special, and still not the Chinese restaurant our community is so sorely lacking.  There seems to be an extensive bar, but I do not drink and drive, so did not – would not – partake of the offerings there.   I am so sorry – for I want it to succeed very badly.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Debbie May 27, 2017 at 12:51 am

I really wanted this to be a great experience. Judi’s comments are truthful. It was blah…

For future guests to have a better experience and to consider returning, I would suggest there be homemade sauces to complement the dishes and a hot n sour soup.

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Ron K. May 27, 2017 at 9:37 pm

I miss the Westy’s Bar & Grill. I wish that place was still there before the Shanghai Bun took over.

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Christo May 30, 2017 at 8:11 am

I agree. It was cool- even if it did smell funny.

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Dave May 28, 2017 at 11:40 pm

Hmmm…not a great review, but not bad enough to turn me off from giving it a try. As Judi notes, we’re kind of lacking in good Chinese that I’m aware of. Little Chef is always a handy take-out joint, but the only other non-chain place I’ve had around here (China Ann) is effing terrible.

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Pam Clarken May 29, 2017 at 6:25 pm

I agree with you completely. I believe in supporting our neighborhood businesses. Unfortunately, there is no reason to return.

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P.L. Dude May 30, 2017 at 12:18 pm

Yeah, I wanted to like Shanghai Bun, it sounded like such a great concept for the neighborhood. And the staff is very friendly. BUT: the portions, while undeniably tasty, are pretty meager for the $$. For about the same cost of 3 or 4 little dim sum plates here you can get very generous portions at Supannee around the corner. And all those TVs at Shanghai Bun are just annoying when you’re trying to enjoy your chow–why do restaurants think they need a giant TV on every wall?? NOT! I hope SB will tweak its concept a bit to make it more competitive———-

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Barbara G June 23, 2017 at 7:13 am

We’ve tried this place three times, hoping each time that the experience would be better. I couldn’t agree more that the Point needs good Chinese food. I will not be back.

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Leon D Riker July 2, 2017 at 4:01 pm

Am I, the reader, supposed to know who both Susi and Deb are? Evidently, they’re women with each of whom the author, Judi Curry, has experienced Shanghai Bun.

Struck me as odd!

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Judi Curry judi July 2, 2017 at 6:58 pm

Hi Leon, let me clarify why I put the names of the people I dine out with. First, and foremost, the review is about the restaurant, not the people I am with. However, it is important to know that there are others also tasting the meal that will be reviewed. The more involved, the better the review because we have all had a chance to sample many things and come up with an agreed review. No, you are not supposed to know Susi and/or Deb, but you now know that the review was done by more than one person.
So…what did you think of the food?

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Leon D Riker July 5, 2017 at 1:11 pm

judi,
You ended the review of your 1st visit with, ” And, of course, I am going back.” The 2nd visit culminated with, “Would I go back again? It grieves me to say “no.” ”

We are already aware of Deb’s appraisal from the comment by:
Debbie May 27, 2017 at 12:51 am

Were the rest of the population so aware I’m sure they’d, as I, wonder about the mysterious Susi’s intentions of returning. Let’s hear from Susi!

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Leon D Riker July 2, 2017 at 10:50 pm

Had you referred initially to “My companion, Susi,” and then to “Another companion, Deb,” I’d have thought nothing of it. As it was, I was worried about what might have happened to Susi. Had Deb replaced her? Imagine my concerns.

Now, about the food: nothing distinctive to draw me back. On the other hand, the operation of the facility is clearly not ready for prime time. That is, were the food noteworthy in a positive way, I’d still be reticent to return for want of professional service and operation.

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Ron K. July 3, 2017 at 3:54 pm

I miss Westy’s Bar & Grill.

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Jewelee February 4, 2018 at 10:40 am

We decided to stop in this restaurant and give it a try since we had seen their coupon in The Peninsula Beacon several times. It was Sat afternoon, about 1:30. We should have known right away to turn around and leave. One couple in the main room and one other couple with a small child in the s8de room which is where we decided to sit. After explaining we had seen the coupon didnt have it with us we asked our server if they would still honor the ad, she said those people over there at the other table are the owners, let me ask them. She asked, they said no. If we wanted to go find the paper and come back with the coupon they would give us the 10% off. I was on my way put to see if I could grab one when I thought to myself…that’s just poor customer service! So glad we decided to leave because we ended up a few doors down at Seacoast Grill & Pho. So amazing. Wonderful staff. The owner spoke with us and was go gracious. 5 stars for sure!!!

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Leon D Riker February 5, 2018 at 12:14 pm

So, Jewelee, you’re not really reviewing the restaurant. In fact, you’ve definitely not reviewed the restaurant. What you’ve done is complain about the fact you paid a price for not having a required coupon, and then blamed someone else.

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