Early Bird Special: Bund Shanghai

Jen Siska
Note to aspiring restaurateurs: The fiercest Chinese eateries are in diaspora neighborhoods, places like the Outer Richmond or northern Peninsula, where second- and third-generation Asian Americans actually live. Seems like nobody told the owners of Bund Shanghai (640 Jackson at Kearny), a restaurant in the heart of Chinatown that SF Weekly critic Meredith Brody says is pumping out some of the best Chinese food in the city. Start planning where you're gonna park the Prius, even as you brush up on Shanghaiinese regional: the famous gushing dumplings xiao long bao, mantou, and long-braised pork leg. Read Brody's dish-by-dish take later today at www.sfweekly.com. Or, if you're the kind of guy who skips to the end of a DVD to see who dies, proceed directly to the spoiler (after the jump).

Another typical Shanghai treat that shouldn't be missed are the small layered bread rolls called mantou, here offered steamed or fried; we prefer them fried, for the textural difference between the crisp browned crust and the doughy interior. They were served with a small dish of sweetened condensed milk for dipping. We couldn't resist the red braised pork upper leg, even though it was one of the priciest dishes on the menu, and looked unpromising when brought to the table: a huge brown fatty-looking lump, drenched in brown sauce, surrounded by a few limp green leaves. Slice through the gleaming exterior, and underneath there's a treasure trove of succulent star-anise-scented pork. It's kept moist and luscious by its long, slow braising in its cloaking of buttery fat.

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