Restaurant Review: Shanghai Bun on Rosecrans

by on December 15, 2017 · 4 comments

in Ocean Beach

Shanghai Bun – Chinese Tapas Bar
1029 Rosecrans St.
San Diego, CA 92106

I have visited the Shanghai Bun four times now.  Each time I have gone with someone else and the past three times was less than thrilled with the results.  One of the people I went with several months ago was Susi, and we agreed that a lot of work needed to be done before we would go back. (Editor: see Judi’s review from May 2017.)

Several weeks ago Susi contacted me and told me that she had gone again with her mother, and the menu had changed and was much better.  Because I have wanted to have an authentic Chinese restaurant in the neighborhood I decided to go back and try it again.

Today Colleen and I made a luncheon date to meet at the restaurant at 11:45.  We came in the back way and were greeted by Nancy, the owner of the restaurant who told us we could sit anywhere.  There was only one other table occupied so we had our pick of tables. While we were there four other parties came in and I noticed that one party sat near the front door but had to move because it was too cold. The televisions were on and there was light music playing.  Melissa was our server, and as far as I could tell, the only server, but Nancy was there to help, if needed.

Beef Bulgogi Tacos

Susi spoke about a “new menu” but I did not see much difference from the old one to the new one.  I do not have a copy of the old menu so it is just my impression.  The take out menu that Melissa gave me does not include the lunch specials, so it is difficult to say what is on the lunch menu vs what is on the dinner menu.  In fact, I am somewhat puzzled because as I look at the menu given to me to take home, the Beef Bulgogi Tacos are not on that menu.  Interestingly enough, on our bill it was listed at $6.99 with a Tapas Tuesday 25% off of $1.75 which made them $5.24.

She also ordered the Shanghai Bun Sampler, listed at $4.99 with the 25% off of $1.25 so that came to $3.74.  When Colleen ordered she asked Melissa if the sampler was ample for a meal and Melissa said that she would order an additional item. Colleen asked her for suggestions and she was the one that suggested the Beef Bulgogi Tacos.

Because I want a Chinese restaurant and not Tapas, I decided to order something that was typically Chinese.  I have always been fond of Moo Shu with Pork, and, surprisingly enough found it on the lunch menu. (Note:  It is not on the take-out menu.)  The moo shu was $9.49 and I was charged $1.50 for the pork.

Now here is an annoying feature for me.  I originally was going to order a bowl of Wonton Soup, but Melissa told me that the Moo Shu came with Hot and Sour Soup.  Since it is marked with the “chili” indicating it is spicy, I asked if I could substitute either the wonton soup or egg drop soup.  She told me I could try the soup, and if it was too spicy for me the cook could substitute the other soup.  Melissa brought me a small sample of the soup and it was a bit too spicy for my taste.  She said that it would not be a problem, but it might take a few minutes to make the wonton soup.  The hot and spicy soup was already made because it came with so many orders, but we were not in a hurry so agreed to the wait.  At no time was I told that there would be an additional charge for the substitution of the soup.

Shanghai Bun Sampler

Colleen had her order served first.  There were two of the Bulgogi Tacos on a plate, and we each tried one.  The inside was very tasty, and the accompanying sauce was nice.  Then, almost immediately, she was served the Bun Sampler – Shrimp dumpling, shu mai, pork dumpling and a custard bun.  Colleen cut them each in half so we could sample all of them.  They were okay – nothing special, and we decided that the Bulgogi was the best of the lot.

The moo shu was served a few minutes after Colleen was served, and there was a bowl of wonton soup, an egg roll, and a sweet and sour sauce, plus the moo shu.  Melissa set the plate down and said, “I’ll bring you your tortilla’s in a minute.”  I was surprised at the reference to “tortilla’s” because I have always had it with very thin pancakes, but didn’t say anything.

I started out with the won ton soup. The broth was fair, but the wontons were much too salty for my palate.  I didn’t say anything and asked Colleen to taste them.  Her response was the same. In fact, they were so salty that I left two of them in the bowl of broth.  The egg roll was okay – seemed a little bit greasy, but tasted okay.  The moo shu was very good; the vegetables were cooked well; the pork was tender, but the tortillas were dry and hard around the edges.  After each of us having one I left the third remaining tortilla on the plate and just ate the moo shu plain.

There were several things I want to mention:  First of all the food was better than it was either of the other times I was there.  I was pleased to see that.

Moo Shu with Pork

I was tickled about something I saw happen that was an indication of the service.  While we were eating, Colleen’s water glass and my lemonade were refilled often without our asking for more.

One thing that bothered me was when we received the bill – it was very inexpensive – thanks to the Tuesday 25% off prices on Colleen’s choices, but I was charged $1.50 more for substituting the wonton soup – a soup that I couldn’t even eat.  If I had know that there was going to be an additional charge I would have said to just “forget it.”  I didn’t need the soup.

There are vegetarian items on the menu; There are specifically listed symbols designating  “gluten-free” items.  There is a free delivery up to 3 miles with a minimum $30 purchase.  Otherwise there is a $2.99 charge, and the military gets a 10% discount.

Our total bill was $25.83, not including the tip.

Would I go back? It is difficult for me to say “yes”, even though the moo shu was good; the prices reasonable.  They advertise no MSG but I wish they would also eliminate the heavy salt.  I also wish that the take-out menu followed along the dine-in menu, because there are so many items on the menu in the restaurant that are not on the take-out one.  (For example, the wonton soup is not on the take-out menu, but the Hot and Sour and Vegetable Egg Drop Soup are listed.)  I might try it again to try other Chinese items.  I am not interested in the Tapas – have had enough there to know that it is easy for me to pass it up.  And … Tapas is not what I want when I want Chinese food.  So it is a toss-up; the food was better; the service was better; it just isn’t the North China or Mandarin China that I was used to going to.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Don December 15, 2017 at 1:34 pm

“… I have visited the Shanghai Bun four times now. …”

“… There were several things I want to mention: First of all the food was better than it was either of the other times I was there….”

I think “either” means, essentially, two (ie a quantity). It’s been a long week, so maybe my math is off…


judi December 15, 2017 at 4:06 pm

Regardless of the semantics – the food was better than the other times.


Mike December 17, 2017 at 3:03 am

As a PL homeowner I’m really excited to have Shanghai Bun energize our neighborhood with a great Chinese concept restaurant . Personally, I’m really impressed that Nancy has added her own worldly-but-American style to the typical experience. She is delightful, and the place just keeps improving. The sautéed string bean dish has been impossible to find since I was last in Beijing, and hers is delicious! Love the menu, and love the atmosphere…and what a great upgrade to Roseville:)


Rebecca Long December 23, 2017 at 5:51 pm

We love the Shanghai Bun….I feel like I get freshly prepared food….also love their happy hour, plates $7; and yummy. We’ve been there multiple times and will return soon!


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