I should just call this “Albany Jane eats at Ala Shanghai for the 84598230985 millionth time” because Ala Shanghai has now totally become my de-facto Chinese spot.
Actually, I met a new friend a few months ago at a beach in Vermont. Random, right? Turns out he lives in the area, and is also Chinese. We sent a few e-mails about meeting up for food at some point, ’cause like all Chinese, we like to socialize while we get our eat on. Then he sent me an email about finding out about XLB on Yelp. I swear, XLB are like a siren call for Albany. XLB = must go.
So we decided to meet up Saturday to grab some dim sum together. He brought his adorable little girl, I brough Albany John, and R came along too! Yeeaahhh! Started off with two orders of regular XLB (just pork). Sooo good. These were nice and soupy.
Fried wontons! 10 for $5, and two orders of scallion pancakes ($3 each). Man, those crispy fried wontons were soooo good.
Spicy wontons ($5). They’re not that spicy, but have a bit of a kick to them. It’s a peanutty kind of sauce for them, so if you’re looking for a sweet-spicy-nutty combo, this’ll work for you.
Sticky rice dumplings! These are like dumpling versions of lotus leaf rice (joong). Way more manageable, IMO. I think the big orders of lotus leaf rice is a little much – sometimes a little heavy and perfumed from the leaves. This was a nice change of pace, although one was more than enough for me. As you can tell from the picture, these are very LARGE dumplings! Albany John is a big joong lover – he really liked these, and I’m sure he’ll order them again the next time we go.
Har gow! These are the only Cantonese dim sum dishes on the menu. I think more of a nod since they’re such a staple dim sum dish. Either way, I was happy with them! We got two orders, and I could have easily eaten them both myself. Best har gow in Albany, straight up. Nice soft & chewy skin all over, and good portion of shrimp. Who would have thought a Shanghaiese place would have the best har gow? I would have sworn they were made in-house, but they’re brought in from NYC. I wish all of the other places in the area would get them from the same place, because we have a lot of tough/gummy har gow running around the area!
Every other dim sum dish is made in-house though. Wow!
Ended with a dish of salt and pepper squid ($14). This was kind of on the pricey side, but the squid was very lightly cooked (perfectly soft – not at all chewy or overcooked). The Shanghaiese take on this dish is different than I’ve had it before – it’s covered in a soft batter. Kind of like a cross between tempura and beer batter. I’m more used to Cantonese-style where it’s just got a light coating of cornstarch on it. But it had a good kick of pepper and salt in the batter, more pepper than I’ve been able to taste before in Cantonese preparations. I’m still mulling this dish over, haha. (But don’t get me wrong, I liked it! It’s just a lil bit different)
This was a nice, leisurely dim sum. No rush, just a nice way to spend a weekend meal. And man, we can eat, haha! Ala’s dim sum menu may be shorter than others in the area, but it’s a different style well worth checking out, and every single item on there is quality. Also pretty cool that every dim sum item aside from the har gow are made in-house.