Everyone I know has been raving about the latest Chinese joint, Bob’s Shanghai 66 that opened in Rockville early this year. Their signature dish appears to be xiao long bao (steamed soup dumplings), hand-made, mini steamed buns with exploding soupy goodness. It’s won over everyone who’s been there, as I keep hearing people say it the best they’ve ever had. So when my friend Scott, who’d recently moved here from Ohio, said he was looking for some good Chinese food, I thought of this place.
Shanghai 66 does serve primarily Shanghai-style dishes, with all the usual Shanghainese suspects like xiao long bao, mapo tofu, and scallion pie. The anomaly, at our meal at least, is the niu rou mian (beef noodle soup.) The dish has many variations within Chinese communities all over the world, but the one we had at Shanghai 66, with its red braised beef and dark stock, seemed more like Taiwanese-style niu rou mian. But I could be wrong. Maybe the Shanghainese cook their beef soups exactly the same way as the Taiwanese do!
Just for the heck of it, I threw in an order of shao mai (right) which are steamed pork and shrimp dumplings even though it hadn’t been recommended as a must-try dish. They were ok — salty, but not flavorful and not particularly high quality in craftsmanship.
There are two types of xiao long bao on the menu. One is the regular ground pork one; and the other is the more expensive crab and pork. We tried the latter, and yes it was delicious! The soup was kinda wasted on me though, as I kept biting into it the wrong way and half the soup sprayed out onto the table, making me a source of laughter for Scott. At least someone thought it was funny. :-/
But when a well-made bowl of beef noodle soup shows up at the table during a Chinese meal like this, you can bet that it’ll take centre stage. The noodles were slippery and al dente, the broth was full of flavour; a pleasant surprise was that it had a slight spiciness, but without a glimmering red layer of hot oil on the surface. Stewed beef chunks could have been just a bit more tender, but were still plentiful and good. Who cares if it’s Taiwan or Shanghai style beef soup! I’m pleased to know that I can get good renditions of both the noodles and xiao long bao in one place.
Not pictured here is a crispy fish flounder dish, stir-fried with sliced chillies and diced onions. I was hungry and dropped the food picture-taking, but anyone wondering if it’s worth ordering — well, generous chunks of fish lightly battered and fried, still piping hot in the middle when served — what do you think I’d say? Yes!
We finished up by 8:30 p.m. and the place was quite empty due to the government shutdown. Scott didn’t mind. He later declared on Facebook that it was “one of the best meals he’d had” in the area, no joke.