The petite Rung Hu has pushed dim sum carts inside some of the best Hong-Kong-style restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley. After leaving her native home of Shanghai 25 years ago, she adopted the name Rose, and worked hard to someday open her own restaurant.
When the Chi Dynasty restaurant closed in an architecturally-unique onion dome building on Ventura Boulevard in Studio City, Rose secured the space to make her dream come true.
Shanghai Rose is elegant inside with black and red decor. Each table is decorated with red linen tablecloths and black linen napkins. Booths can accommodate two to four people and tables are available for larger groups. A bar near the front door offers beer and wine options.
While dining on a Friday night, Rose proudly showed me her new open kitchen staffed with chefs from Hong Kong. The kitchen is one of the cleanest I have ever seen. There were at least nine chefs, including a head chef, prep chef and deep-frying chef, quickly preparing dishes for guests. The chefs use Beijing-style woks that don’t have handles and are thicker than other types of woks.
“These don’t need as much oil to cook the meat and vegetables,” Rose said. “The wok warms up and retains the heat quickly.”
On weekends, small, ready-to-serve dim sum dishes are available on carts, allowing seated customers to make selections. The serving sizes have three or four pieces on each plate or in a steamer basket. Guests are encouraged to order family-style dishes for sharing with others.
Rose oversees the parade of traditional Shanghai dishes, including sweet sesame balls with red bean paste, steamed barbecue pork buns and wonderful soup dumplings. The dumplings are beautifully pleated rice dough treats — one bite and guests will enjoy the wonderful, piping hot pork broth.
Most of the other dim sum fare is Cantonese, such as jumbo pork siu mai dumplings, egg custard tartlets with a flaky crust that is rich and creamy but not overwhelmingly sweet, and cloud-like baked or steamed bao buns made from wheat flour and filled with meat, vegetables or sweet bean pastes.
The tradition when eating dim sum is to sip tea, and the restaurant offers a variety of Chinese teas for guests to enjoy with the dishes.
We ordered a few items from the dim sum and regular menus. As with other Chinese restaurants, there are starters ranging from salt and pepper calamari and chicken lettuce cups to honey glazed spare ribs and fried shrimp appetizers. Five soups are served including egg flower, hot and sour, and sizzling rice with carrots, mushrooms, snow peas, sliced bamboo shoots and baby corn.
The menu offers a large selection of seafood, meat and vegetable dishes. We tried the mu shu chicken prepared tableside on a rolling cart. Our server spread sweet plum hoisin sauce onto thin pancakes and topped it with stir fried chicken breast, egg, cabbage, scallions, bamboo shoots, tree mushrooms and water chestnuts. It was one of my favorite dishes of the night.
Shanghai Rose has a double delight with stir fried jumbo shrimp and chicken with broccoli, carrots, snow peas and celery in Rose’s special sauce. They also serve Beijing duck with crispy skin and moist meat with julienned scallions, cucumbers, hoisin sauce and steamed bao buns.
Desserts include mango pudding, green tea ice cream and coconut jello.
Parking is available in front of the restaurant, on nearby streets or in an adjacent municipal lot behind the restaurant. The restaurant will validate for the first two hours of parking.
Shanghai Rose is open seven days a week starting at 11:30 a.m. $$ 12229 Ventura Blvd. (818)762-2542.
This article was published in the August 13, 2015 issue of the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News.