Shanghai River Restaurant, Houston Classic Chinese Restaurant Since 1970
An Oldie but Goodie!
Shanghai River Restaurant has stood the test of time! This eating establishment serving Hunan and Szechuan cuisine has been in this same location since 1970. The address is 2407 Westheimer (near Kirby), Houston, Texas 77098.
People familiar with that part of town know it is in the River Oaks area. My husband and I used to eat there much more often when we lived closer into town.
Recently when photographing the latest sculpture show on Heights Boulevard called the “Obstacle Art Path” as well as doing some other chores not too far from Shanghai River, we scheduled our day so that we could dine there for lunch. We have done that several times recently and I am happy to report that the food, decor, and relaxing ambiance is still the same which is much to our liking.
The exterior of the restaurant is nondescript, but the interior is a lovely contrast. It harkens back to the days of quiet elegance unlike so many of the newer, hard-surfaced and noisy eating establishments so popular today where quiet discussions tableside are all but impossible.
There are three distinct dining spaces within this restaurant. A bar area seats around twenty people. A wine room a few steps up from the main dining room can seat approximately 35 and then there is the main dining room where we have always been seated.
As you can tell from my photos, tablecloths and napkins adorn all the tables. It is the same no matter what time of day one is eating there. Between the paneled walls, comfortable armchairs, and warm colors this provides a welcoming almost club-like atmosphere.
Some of the larger tables still have a built-in lazy susan in the center which makes sharing of food easy for larger gatherings of people. That certainly harkens back to earlier decorating styles in Oriental restaurants. Sometimes old ideas are still the best.
The Shanghai River Restaurant website has some interesting information about the chef-owner, David Wang who learned to cook alongside his chef father, Yung-Lin Wang, who at one time prepared food for a former President of Taiwan. Many of the recipes come from cherished family ones.
My husband and I almost always choose hot and sour soup if given a choice and we enjoy the one served here. Below you can see some of the entrees served at lunch. We usually also choose steamed rice instead of fried rice.
Are you hungry yet? In reading reviews of this restaurant, while most are favorable, there are some who write that the food is Americanized. As an American, that is fine with me. They are happy to adjust the spiciness of dishes deemed to be hot per customer request.
The Oriental Garden located in Spring, Texas is also undoubtedly geared to the American flavor palette which is all right with us. We have enjoyed dining there on several occasions when spending time in that part of our metropolitan area.
We have dined at Pepper Twins Restaurant. They are known for preparing authentic Sichuan foods using very spicy imported peppercorns from that region of the world. In one particular dish that my husband and I were sharing, we felt as though our tongues were on fire! We have learned our lesson. If dining there, we now ask as to the preparation of dishes and how incendiary they might be.
It is not necessary to do that at Shanghai River Restaurant. We have yet to suffer that same fate of searing, thermogenic, hotness where no amount of water can extinguish that burning feeling. If you like your foods that way, I am sure that the chef can accommodate your desire for it.
Framed photos of Marvin Zindler hang on the walls of the Shanghai River Restaurant. There is even a dish on the menu named after him.
Those of us who have been around a while remember this spirited television news reporter on channel 13 which is the local ABC network. What you may not know is that his dad was the mayor of Bellaire for four terms. Marvin was a marine during World War II, was a Free Mason and is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery.
What he is best known for was his reporting of restaurants which had done an excellent job of maintaining cleanliness in their kitchens. Each Friday evening at 6 pm and 10 pm many of those that had failed inspections were mentioned on the news. Rats, roaches, and slime in the ice machine was most often the cause of failed checks. His typical signoff is a hard one to forget…”Marrrrrvin Zindler Eyeeeeeewitness News!”
He could not mention all of the restaurants that kept constant and outstandingly clean kitchens, so he gave out Blue Ribbon Awards. Shanghai River was one such restaurant that received numerous ones and was obviously a favorite of his in which to dine.
I am happy to be able to share this good restaurant with you that has lasting appeal.
Clementines is another charming restaurant in northwest Houston that originated in the 1970s. Few restaurants stay in business as long as these have. I hope that they break more records as to staying power!