Little pillows of Chinese lovin’, dumplings dipped in some sorta sweet, salty and tangy dipping sauce might just be one of the better two bite wonders to pop in your mouth. There’s nothing like a no frills dirty Chinese restaurant with a family style vibe — where a mom and daughter cooking crew whip up affordable, greasy and wonderfully flavor-packed (
ahem MSG?) Chinese food.
If you don’t eat pork, you’re missing out, because these dumplings are all about the anti-Kosher other white meat. You’d expect an Asian food haven that excels in dumplings to offer a bit more variety, but Shandong only serves two flavors of handmade dumplings: pork-green onion and pork-Chinese cabbage.
You can get ’em boiled or pan fried, and while both ways are good, by rule of unhealthy thumb, pan fried is always way better. You can’t really go wrong no matter which you choose, but my personal faves are the pan fried pork-green onion mix.
Moving along to the North American-ized Chinese variety, sweet and sour pork, cerdo con salsa agridulce. Fried, sweet, savory, crunchy, saucy — all you ever wanted in a Chinese dish. Unlike other Chinese restaurants in BA, you won’t find any sickly sweet, oddly pinkish-red colored cough syrup-like agridulce sauce here.
The way a restaurant cooks shrimp is generally a good litmus test if the cook can actually cook. A chef that thinks it’s acceptable to serve mushy, tasteless, thawed still with a frozen taste shrimp should really just go home. Luckily, Shadong’s shrimp fried noodles, or chawmien con camarones, didn’t disappoint — perfectly plump lil’ shreemps sautéed with a bright mix of onion, carrot, zucchini and bean sprouts.
It’s always a crapshoot when ordering something picante – you really don’t know how it will turn out. It’s as if the restaurant doesn’t really believe you when you order something extra spicy. Sometimes you order the extra kick and what comes out isn’t even seasoned with cracked pepper, other times perhaps there will be a random assortment of whole chili peppers (with seeds), making it virtually impossible to eat. The few times I’ve ordered Kung Pao chicken (and pork) at Shandong, it’s come out different: it’s what would happened if Goldilocks started doing restaurant reviews – the first time it came out with an extremely mild heat, the second time with an insane amount of mouth burning spice and the third time no kick whatsoever. The answer? Ask for it picante, and also ask for extra spice on the side.
The only reason I even started to order Kung Pao chicken in the first place was thanks to one of my favorite Seinfeld episodes where not only does George sweat profusely while eating this spicy Chinese favorite, but he also refers to himself in the third person throughout the entire program. Ever since I was old enough to actually understand what was going on, Kung Pao chicken became part of my regular Chinese order. Allie likes her chicken spicy. Especially with chunks of green and red peppers, onions, pineapple and cashews.
Not a huge beef Chinese food fan, the carne en salsa de ostras, or beef in oyster sauce, was made with a too salty thick sauce with too chewy beef. But luckily along with the alitas de pollo frita, chicken wings (ask for it with some red sauce), a whole fried fish, and incredible lush BROTES make Shandong Restaurant aka Shan Dong Fan Dian aka Da Dong Fan Dian aka Dirty Chino aka Chino Roots a cheap-n-tasty barrio Chinese spot, worth the trip even if it’s not even in your ‘hood, to satisfy that Chinese food craving.
Shandong Restaurant (Shan Dong Fan Dian)
Vera 468, Villa Crespo
Average price: AR$95