Shanghai Blues has a very different vibe to any other Chinese restaurant in London. At first I could not work out what it was but by the end of the meal I realised the atmosphere in the restaurant is very colonial Chinese. You almost feel like you are in Shanghai in the 1920s. It does not have a feeling of cheapness like China Town Chinese restaurants can have and it also does not have that white table cloth upscale feeling that Chinese restaurants like Min Jiang and Kai have, Shanghai Blues has an aura of Chinese greatness of the past decade that you can also feel in some Hong Kong and Shanghai restaurants. There are pleasant blue lights decorating the room and lamps with Chinese symbols hang from the ceiling. Apparently on some nights they also play live music which contributes to the last century grandeur feeling. These days maybe the image could be a bit tarnished as you can see they are trying to make extra money by offering dim sum classes and also offering to sing karaoke in their restaurant, but I guess times are tough and these days you need to think of extra things to make money, but still if you go on an average day for dinner or lunch you will understand what I mean by the colonial atmosphere.
We had booked a table in this Holborn Chinese restaurant for Thursday for dinner for 4 people but last minute we had to change it to Wednesday and Shanghai Blues was nice enough to accommodate us. We arrived at 7.00 to a restaurant that had a few occupied tables but by the end of our meal the ground floor dining room was almost full with very few tables if any still empty. My friend Jacob ordered the starters, “'Sao Mai' Prawn & Pork Dumplings with crab meat”, “Original Steamed Shanghai 'Xiao Long Bao' with minced pork & chef's special stock” and “Shanghai 'Shui Jiao' In Exotic Chilli Sauce Dumpling with prawns, minced chicken & mushrooms”. The standout was the Shanghai dumpling, and I really liked the way they presented them each on a piece of carrot in their own little case that you could easily take and put it on your plate, I have never seen this and loved this little touch, and these were delicious, as were the other dumplings. I also ordered a hot and sour soup and I can always tell the quality of a restaurant by their hot and sour soups as I always order these in all Chinese restaurants and they can be so different. The hot and sour soup was darker and thicker at Shanghai Blues than in other restaurants and was very tasty.
Jacob’s Chinese wife Shan Shan ordered the main courses, and I always love when people that know Chinese food well order it, as I always get to try things I have not had before. Shan Shan chose the “Five Willow' Sesame Chicken which had crispy chicken stuffed with minced prawns in sweet & sour sauce”, which was a delicious chicken dish in a nice sauce and I loved the crust and texture of it. She also ordered the “Minced Pork Meat Balls with baby pak choi & bean curd sheets classic shanghai cuisine” (and this dish is more famously known as the "Lion's head" as Shan Shan told me) which was also extremely interesting as I have never had a pork meatball dish in a Chinese restaurant before. We also had “Diced Fillet Steak In Fruity Mandarin Sauce” which had excellent quality beef covered in a tasty sauce and “Sea-Spiced Aubergine” (and Shan Shan had them add minced meat, as traditionally it is with minced meat)” and we ate all of this with some steamed rice.
The interesting thing about Shanghai Blues is the menu, as even though I think I know Chinese food, a lot of the dishes they serve in Shanghai Blues are different to your average dishes you see in a Chinese restaurant, which is interesting and unusual. The atmosphere and the food you get just feels very different to what I have had before in Chinese restaurants which I really liked.
Price for 4 with alcohol and service charge: £237.30