Shanghai Fresh, Central Sq Cambridge MA

This restaurant is basically a reboot of Shanghai Gate in Allston. Same proprietors and chef. I’m not exactly sure what happened to Shanghai Gate itself, but it’s being run by a bunch of incompetents and doesn’t have good food anymore.

We had a few dishes at Shanghai Fresh on their first weekday service and they performed well, like a typical night at Shanghai Gate. Menu is similar with a few new things. Recommended!


huh, that’s weird, I haven’t been there for over a year, but it was fine the last time I went. Did it slowly fall apart or drop off a cliff? In any case, thanks for the tip. Glad to hear the C Square joint is up to snuff.

fro reference’s sake, Tatsu’s useful instagram account has some pics from this place too and some info on the chef:

thanks Tatsu!

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what are the new dishes?

e.g. their “18 fresh” cold salad with enoki mushrooms, pine nuts, sugar snap peas, seaweed, some other stuff

Thank you! The early eats were good!

I’ve gotten the steamed beef with rice powder at SG recently and it was as good as I remember. I’ve never been truly excited by most of their dishes, though, and so I usually go to Lao Sichuan or JJT when I’m in that area.

We got take out from Shanghai Fresh last night. The food was all excellent, as good as Shanghai Gate ever was. We ordered some standards, but look forward to trying more of the menu. Everything was fresh, hot, not greasy and delicious.

  • Lions Head Meatballs: didn’t order enough, everyone wanted more, delicious
  • Wood Ear Mushrooms, Pepper and Onions in Special garlic: just the right amount of spice, and vinegary kick to the sauce
  • Sweet & Sour Baby Ribs
  • Szechuan Style Fried Chicken (Paradise Mountain Chicken)
  • Shanghai Pan Fried Noodles w’ Beef
  • Chicken & Pork Lettuce Wraps

Do they have the steamed beef with rice powder? I wonder if I could make that with a sous-vide cooker.

Uni, is the Paradise Mountain Chicken boneless or bone-in?

It’s boneless.

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I don’t remember that dish explicitly and don;t have a menu handy. If you’ve had it at Shanghai Gate though, I am sure they can make it.

You now have a good reason to go back!


I tried going to Shanghai Fresh last night. As one would expect for a tiny restaurant on a Friday night, they were slammed, so we waited and waited in line. It later became apparent that the hostess was holding a list to put names on. After we got to the front of the line but received no attention despite some tables opening up, I approached her to ask how much longer it would take for a table for two. She replied that we had to get on the list, and that we should wait for her to bring it to us. Then she heatedly discusses something with the large party waiting in line behind us, and five minutes later says to them, “Hold on, I have to seat a party of two first.” She walks away, comes back, walks past me and my DC, walks past the large party, then approaches two white women standing in line behind them to ask if they were a party of two. They’d arrived 10 minutes after us and certainly had not been on the list. So she led the happy pair to an empty table while my friend and I decided to leave, because clearly she didn’t base seating decisions on either the physical line or the list she never offered us.

The ordeal took close to an hour, and we needed to eat in time for other plans that night. So we instead had a delicious meal at Happy Lamb, which was by contrast incredibly spacious, and offered attentive service. They also have the best hotpot broth in Boston.

Yes, I stopped by to pick up a to go order on the way home last night and they were slammed. I had to fight my way through the crowd just to pick my order. While waiting to pay I noticed that the hostess was a bit disorganized and frazzled. I also saw her reset and finish bussing a few tables, so not surprising she didn’t have the list and crowd under control. Seems like the entire staff was in the weeds, including the kitchen. Most of our order was excellent, however the lions head was very disappointing this time. They were too dense, a bit undercooked with no crust on the outside. The dish that usually is battled over went unfinished this time.

That’s the busiest I’ve seen them, I’m sure they will get the kinks worked out.

I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt because of the circumstances, particularly as I spent much of my childhood in Shanghai and miss the food. Still, given we weren’t organized in a formless mass, I remain perplexed that she walked past parties of two that she’d just told must get on the list, extending no preference for being at the front of the single-file line, to offer the table to the only non-Asian faces waiting. It’s a phenomenon discussed often by the local Chinese community, but I’d always dismissed it as anecdotal. Hope I’m wrong this time. I will certainly be back.

hmmm, care to expand on what you had here? this spot seems interesting to me…

[quote=“rosulate, post:17, topic:3469”]
to offer the table to the only non-Asian faces waiting. It’s a phenomenon discussed often by the local Chinese community, but I’d always dismissed it as anecdotal.[/quote]

Okay, that really sucks.

Set aside what happened in this case. What are the plausible reasons for this phenomenon? I found it weird if its outright discrimination in this day and age and in a major metropolitan area. More revenue per table? Wine?

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold