Saturday, June 11, 2011

3 Chlli Peppers? That Don't Scare Me None.

After a fairly long interlude between visits, I finally got over to Ala Shanghai in Latham this afternoon for lunch. I noticed that the menu looked different and seemed to have a few new items, so I decided to veer from my usual favorites (MaPo Tofu and a couple others) and try something new.

If I remember correctly the old menu had a simple "spicy or not spicy" system, but now we have a more in depth 3 chili pepper scale. Can you guess how I made my decision as to what to order? That is right folks, I flipped through the menu until I found one of the (very few) 3 chili pepper items and ordered that.

The dish in question was "Sliced Beef in Spicy Broth" (the description goes- sliced beef with chinese cabbage and vermicelli in Szechuan style chili broth). When I ordered this the thoughtful waiter informed me that this dish, was in fact, quite spicy. I read between the lines and got the "too spicy for your American taste buds" message, but decided to persevere. I have come to expect and enjoy these little warnings. Other warnings have included: a reminder that the spicy jumbo shrimp still have their heads on, that I should not order a noodle and a rice dish at once, and on one occasion the waiter even flat out told a few friends and I that we had ordered too much food. All very endearing.

Anyhow, what arrived was the above pictured steaming bowl of fiery red goodness. Just look at the angry color of the thing, all glisten-y with fiery oil and be-speckled with chilis. The dish was composed of a hearty pile of rice vermicelli with Napa cabbage and a generous heap of sliced beef, all floating in a delicious, spicy broth. Very spicy, but not painfully so (I have a pretty high tolerance for spicy pain). This dish will definitely go into my Ala Shanghai rotation and was thoroughly enjoyable.

Eating the lion's share of the giant bowl of fiery meat and noodles, along with consuming an entire order of bok choy and mushrooms all by myself threw me into a rare 2 hour food nap when I got home. You know, everyone makes much of Ala Shanghai, and I think the reputation is deserved. I have never been disappointed after a meal there and the place is quickly becoming one of my favorite casual restaurants. Go to Ala Shanghai so they may prosper (and so I can continue to gorge myself for years to come).


  1. it's getting harder and harder to get in...parking lot has been jammed lately...which is a great thing for Ala Shanghai....but my favorite place is no longer a secret!!! Glad you enjoyed it.

  2. Years ago a group of us climbed the stairs to a Szechuan place in Montreal. An elderly waiter glided over immediately, saying "you no like, you no like". We were young and didn't know any better, so we left. We learned after that to be more insistent. "You no like" has been a staple in our food lexicon ever since, whenever we cook new food.

  3. Oh man, now you're just giving Albany John new ideas to try.

    I'm with llcwine. The parking lot is getting harder to find space in. Good indication of good food inside.


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