I got takeout from the new Great Shang Hai restaurant on Sunday; you know, the place that used to be the Bamboo Terrace.
It was pretty good, too, probably a step up from the old Bamboo Terrace food but not quite on par with the area’s best Chinese food at places like Chinatown Cafe and the Tea Garden. I particularly liked the spicy sesame chicken ($8.95) and the twice-cooked pork ($8) — of which there was enough left the next day that I was able to have thrice-cooked pork for lunch.
But what I like most about Great Shang Hai is actually a holdover from the Bamboo Terrace: the Yum Sing Room. A few hours before we got our takeout dinner, my fiancee, Alana, and I stopped by to check the place out and grab a menu. We couldn’t resist the appeal of the Yum Sing Room, the restaurant’s bar and lounge. So we decided to stick around and get a quick drink.
It was a great decision. The unpretentious atmosphere of the place is exactly what I look for in a bar. The lights are low, there are a couple of regulars hunched over the bar and there’s a jukebox in the corner with Patsy Cline on it. The decor is right out of 1955. There’s no draft beer and no artisan cocktails; it’s not that kind of place. But they have 16-ounce cans of Busch for not much more than it would cost you at the store. And their mixed drinks are strong and cheap.
It’s the kind of place where my grandfather would have gone, or at least some of my uncles. It’s the kind of place where Philip Marlowe would get a shot and a beer to gather his wits and steel himself to the realities of his next job. It’s the kind of place, given all the rest of that, that has much better food than it really has any right to.
It’s my kind of place.