Best Chinese Restaurant: Devoted to a less-familiar regional cuisine
930 Webster St.
You can get barbecued duck, crab with ginger and green onions, and baby bok choy with black mushrooms at a hundred Cantonese restaurants around the area. But finding the specialties of other regions -- say, the drunken chicken or fried eel Shanghai is famous for -- is trickier. A longtime tenant in Oakland's Chinatown, Shanghai Restaurant offers dozens and dozens of exciting things to try. Some come from the cold case in front, such as the soybeans and preserved radishes or the ultra-crunchy, garlic-tossed vegetable that the waiters translate as "mustard root." Soupy noodles with pork and preserved vegetables and Shanghai-style soup dumplings, plump with meat and broth, end up on most tables. There are about six menus to choose from, but we'd recommend skipping the three-dishes-for-$15 list the restaurant advertises out front, which can be decent but far from memorable. If you're really up for exploring, call ahead to order one of the $48, $68, or $88 set menus, complete with items like rice shoot and carp, and organize a group tour of the glories of Shanghainese cuisine.