131 Bristol Road, Gloucester, GL1 5SA | (01452) 331688
The Shanghai in Gloucester is a popular restaurant serving decent Chinese favourites. Runs a good order-as-much-as-you-like deal all week. Takeaway also available.
Fill-up on Chinese food with Shanghai’s all-you-can-eat feast for a king.
How often have you been lured into a Chinese restaurant by the promise of an ‘all you can eat’ banquet featuring colourful pictures of glisteningly pretty gourmet dishes that make your stomach grumble in anticipation? Once inside have you found yourself queuing up with other disgruntled diners for a meagre scraping of dried-up dishes from stainless steel vats? Yes, we have fallen for those promises too, but never again now that we have discovered Shanghai.
The restaurant’s pride in its banquet is obvious from their giant banner flapping in the wind, the diners spilling out of the restaurant with loosened belts and the orderly queues forming to enter the popular Chinese on a Saturday evening. With word of Shanghai’s reputation as a well-priced eatery spreading as quickly as the diners’ girths, there wasn’t much arm-twisting needed to drag a few hungry companions along to the brightly-lit Bristol Road restaurant. It was packed with twenty-something birthday celebrations, young families and a smattering of couples when we were seated swiftly and opted unanimously for the all you can eat offerings.
We deliberated over the menu, with more than a hundred choices, like a cryptic game of suduko – deciding on the exact number and combination of dishes needed to satisfy each of the picky eaters on our table for six. There are rules, despite the seeming anarchy of an all you can eat restaurant: you shouldn’t order more than three dishes per person or more than ten dishes for the entire table at once – as there are serving and kitchen time constraints as well as limited surface area on a table – but you are free to order more dishes once the empty plates have been cleared. Once you have moved onto your main course choices, you can’t order more starters, and you shouldn’t order more than you can feasibly eat – well, that would just be wasteful. Swigging Tiger beers and cheap plonk we decided on a definitive list of dishes, which we forgot five minutes later, and had to decide again once the cheerful waiter was hovering over us.
Such was the quality of the starters that some tables ordered nothing else – with the juicy prawn satay skewers, saucy barbeque ribs and crispy meat-filled wontons being particularly good, while the hot and sour soup left a warm glow and the crispy aromatic duck was a tender choice, followed-up swiftly for repeat orders. The texture of the crab claws was not a resounding success however, and faired on the wrong side of bland. For our main course selection we sampled the ubiquitous sweet and sours – chicken being unsurprisingly popular – as well as crispy chilli beef despite being more crispy than beef. The satay roast pork was also a success with delightful lashings of sumptuous sauce, accompanied by a selection of noodles, rice and bean curd with vegetables.
The service was relaxed and informal, with a friendly hostess found chatting with regulars – of which there are plenty. And who can blame anyone for returning time and time again, aside from the rather raucous antics on Bristol Road (we lost count of how many revellers we saw stumbling past the window in fancy dress) at the princely sum of £9.50 per person Sunday to Thursday and £13.50 Fridays and Saturdays, the range and quality of this all you can eat Chinese banquet really was a feast for a king.
The average price for a three-course meal for two at Shanghai, excluding drinks, is around £25.
By James Fyrne
Sunday 06 May 2007
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