Tokyo Shanghai Bistro
by judy - posted 3:31 pm, October 13, 2009
It’s never fair to review a restaurant in its early stages but sometimes the truth needs to be stated. Although Tokyo Shanghai Bistro (494 Elmwood Ave, Buffalo, 716.886.3839) recently opened, the general consensus of those who have dined there is as conflicting as the restaurant’s Chinese/Japanese menu.
Keep in mind that Tokyo Shanghai Bistro is not your below average Chinese Buffet (although a lunchtime buffet is offered). The newly renovated interior is serene, the service is equally pleasant, and menu items are modestly priced to a tad overpriced depending on what you order and what you consider to be authentic Asian cuisine.
If you’re a traditional Chinese food eater, the Wonton soup constitutes a nice starter. If you prefer Miso soup, be aware that TSB’s broth has a fishy aftertaste and cloudy appearance, which is probably due to too much miso seasoning. Salad eaters should also be aware that the Vegetable salad is simply iceberg lettuce, cucumbers, tomato slices, and carrots coated in what’s supposed to be ginger dressing but looks and tastes like Thousand Island.
Moving onto appetizers, there were no complaints about the shrimp & vegetable tempura. The pan-fried shrimp shumai were far superior to the steamed shrimp dumplings, which arrived lukewarm and had a gummy consistency. The Yakitori (grilled chicken skewers marinated in teriyaki sauce) also came out of the kitchen a tad undercooked and tasted bland despite being cooked in a gelatinous sweet sauce. Overall, the chicken dishes were extremely disappointing, which could be attributed to poor quality poultry and much needed tweaking of seasonings & spices.
Red meat eaters had fewer complaints about the Beef Negimaki appetizer, Bento Box, and Mongolian Beef entree, which was a a little too spicy but tasted just fine with rice. Addressing the sushi bar, the sushi-grade rice adhered well to the nori paper but the rolls paled in comparison to Maki one can dine on at well known Japanese restaurants in the neighborhood.
The happiest diners were vegetarians, specifically tofu eaters, who ordered the General Tso’s Tofu (i.e. crispy tofu, broccoli, and hot chili peppers served in a sweet & spicy sauce). The veggie dishes were fresh although everyone agreed that the sauce recipes needed refining.
Hopefully Tokyo Shanghai Bistro will continue to improve and become best known for Chinese cuisine rather than Japanese as Buffalo is in dire need of a decent Chinese restaurant. Until then, choose wisely and remember to ask for an extra side of vegetables.