Christmas Restaurant Nostalgia Part 5: Great Shanghai

December 20th, 2013 § 0 comments

A Christmas wander many decades ago on the then un-gentrified, rough-around-the-edges Upper West Side of New York City: With the kids well insulated against the cold, HG/BSK strolled north on Broadway. Passed Zabar’s, the temple of great smoked fish, bread and cheese. Much smaller then. Passed the New Yorker cinema (perpetually playing “The Sorrow and the Pity”). Passed The Symphony (then a movie house, not a performing arts center). Passed The Thalia (the tiny, eccentric movie theater that showed only the great classics–foreign and domestic). Passed the Senate Cafeteria (the place where Holocaust survivors drank endless cups of tea and provided habituĂ© I.B. Singer–who relished the Senate tunafish salad–with material for his Nobel Prize-winning fictions). Passed the 96th Street newsstand (the best and busiest in New York). Arrived at the destination on 98th: The Great Shanghai Chinese Restaurant. Friends and their children were waiting. What a lovely way to spend a Christmas holiday late afternoon — gathered around a big round table with hungry pals devouring savory Chinese food. The Great Shanghai was large and loud, ruled by an imperious Chinese lady. The food was wonderful and the menu was both expansive and very inexpensive. The kids loved the dumplings and noodle dishes. The adults concentrated on the seafood — exceptional lobster, shrimp, scallop and crab dishes. Plus whole fish steamed with ginger, garlic and black beans or fried and topped with a fiery Szechuan sauce. After farewells, HG/BSK and the kids (who were anticipating dessert) picked up sweet good things at Babka Bakery on 79th and ice cream at adjacent Gourmet Treats. Yes, it was the Sixties and America was involved in domestic turmoil and bloody, wasteful war (So, what else is new?) but HG/BSK could put peace marching and civil rights activism aside and enjoy the delights of food and family.


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