Lion's Head Casserole, Shanghai Style Chow Mein, and General's Chicken

1260 Lake Blvd. #111 (in Westlake Plaza)
Monday 5:00PM-9:00PM (June 1st through September 30th 2006)
Tue-Fri 11:30AM-2:00PM, 5:00PM-9:00PM
Sat-Sun 11:00AM-9:30PM
(530) 758-4663
(unfortunately, they don't always answer, so be persistent)

Shanghai Town is a very affordably priced Chinese restaurant in Westlake Plaza, just a few storefronts south of Chuy's Taqueria. There are vast quantities of every dish, including the appetizers.

Their regular menu is comparable to many of Davis' other Chinese restaurants. They also have an alternative menu, pictured below, which contains a large selection of Dim Sum and Shanghai style cuisine. For the dim sum, they do not come around with carts, but they offer a large selection of dishes. As with any Dim Sum place, the value improves a lot if you order several items together, so it's good to go (and share) with friends or to take out large quantities. First generation Chinese customers frequently order the Braised Pork Ribs in Shanghai Sauce and untranslated items listed on the rear of their Dim Sum menu.

The people working there are very nice, and their customers routinely consist of mainland Chinese natives. For folks not from China, this is an ideal place to explore a new cuisine, and point to the people next to you and say, "I'll have what they're having!"

The owner of Shanghai Town moved her restaurant from San Bruno (about 15 minutes south of San Francisco) to Davis. It replaced Hometown Chinese Restaurant, which moved for a short time to downtown Woodland, then to South Davis,and is now open at Mansion Square on E st.

Shanghai Town was the only Chinese Restaurant open on Christmas, 2005.


Updated 5/2010

Reviews from 2005 ~ 4 reviews/comments Reviews from 2006 ~ 13 reviews/comments Reviews from 2007 ~ 13 reviews/comments Reviews from 2008 ~ 10 reviews/comments


You must be logged in to comment on this page. Please log in.

2009-03-13 23:04:16   I went there thinking about having some good Shanghainese style food... I was WRONG. It's nothing like Shanghainese food, I might cook better. and I won't recommend anyone to go there. —Sherryii

2009-04-23 12:52:10   They use MSG here...not a rumor. I asked. —LokiAbbi

Unless you're allergic to MSG, it really isn't that bad. A little bit in your diet is not bad for you.

That is not really true. MSG reactions are unpredictable, and you can eat it many times before discovering that you are "allergic". Anyone who is especially sensitive knows for sure how awful it is, and for the rest of us the debate is at best murky - just because you don't get as violently ill as your friends doesn't mean you aren't poisoning yourself. Any restaurant worth eating at should give you the option to order without MSG.

And that is REALLY not true. I'll refer to the Wikipedia article on MSG: 'While many people believe that MSG is the cause of these symptoms, a statistical association has not been demonstrated under controlled conditions, even in studies with people who were convinced that they were sensitive to it.' —ChonT

2009-05-20 01:07:49   I like #4 green onion pancakes. It is delicious!! #13 Potstickers are pretty good. #18 Spicy Wontons. Be careful its deadly spicy but hella tempting. #22, 23, and 24 are ALL good. If you go here, you must get one of them.

The 2nd page of the menu is pretty good too. Try to get anything that says Braised Pork and on the bottom you can get 3 entrees for $18-20. If you know what you like, choose 3 entrees and get it!!

BEST CHINESE PLACE in Davis if you know what to order. —Andyboy

2009-10-02 13:36:51   For Americanized Chinese food (Sesame Chicken, Chow Mein, Crab Cheese Wontons - etc) this place is just plain bad. It's about the quality of buffet Chinese food, only served at regular sit down prices. The wontons were oily and flavor-less - a big disappointment for me. I see that they have several good reviews on here, my guess is that it is one of those places like Hometown where people come for the more authentic dishes, and not for the more Americanized ones. Hunan, Jade Garden, and Ding How are all much better for this more American style of Chinese food. —JakeJames

2010-01-03 01:53:51   Be brave and order something unfamiliar. Unfamiliar usually means nonAmericanized Chinese food, which is what this place definitely excels in. Lionshead soup, as mentioned before, is wonderful, and the eggplant in vermicelli is pretty awesome too. Service is lacking, be prepared to wait a little to be served. It's pretty hard to get the workers' attentions too. A little out of the way for most people, being in West Davis, but this is probably the best Chinese food in Davis. —AmyOhe

2010-02-03 20:37:58   My husband and I went to Shanghai Town last Saturday, along with our baby girl—who has an early bedtime, so we went at 5pm. We were their second customer that night in the restaurant, besides the call-ins— which were frequent because many people came in for pick-up, and the service there was attentive and prompt and our food did not take long at all...actually, it was quiet quick! each thing came out separately, but most Chinese places do that. And here is my main reason for writing a comment: The FOOD WAS AWESOME! Its the best chinese food I've ever had and by far beats any "Americanized" Chinese restaurant in Davis. We had some sort of dumpling from the dim sum menu, which I didn't like, but my husband did, though I am not a fan of dim sum. Then we had Mongolian Beef with green onions, yum. Then we had some some sort of thick stir fry noodle with bok choy, that was good and not at all greasy. But the best of all was the Eggplant in a piping hot clay pot with some sort of brown sauce that I think had ground pork in it and then had glass noodles on the bottom. SOOOOOOO GOOODDD! If you go there you must get that! This place is authentic and very good. After dinner we did NOT have tummy aches or gas or bad bowl be frank about it, cause we usually get that reaction from Chinese food. Hope this helps! We'll be going to this place for as long as possible— weekly too! —JamieParker

2010-02-23 00:20:37   The owners have opened another location called "Gold Town". It is in the Chevron gas station (Richard's Blvd. & Research Park Drive) where Hometown was. The place looks identical as when it was Hometown. I had the General Chicken there the other day and it was pretty good. I grabbed a menu with the phone number...but was just looking for it and I guess I lost it. —Josix

2010-04-07 14:11:29   IMPORTED FROM YELP, MY REVIEW:

4 and 1/2 stars rounds up to 5. Their food is oh so delish! The reason for 4 and 1/2 and not 5 stars is for their service.

But in a way, you can tell that the only reason they're still in business despite the ratty hole in the wall facility they're located in and the crude service is because of the food. They're masters at creating chinese masterpieces every single time. And if you want dim sum, don't even drive to Sacramento. This place has got select dim sum dishes and chinese breakfast that's fingerlickin good to the core.

I agree with the other yelpers who have claimed that this is the BEST chinese restaurant in town. Hands down, Shanghai town has got my vote. They are a 5 star restaurant for their food, don't mistake this for a 5 star restaurant for service. So if you've got a craving for chinese, eat here and get down and dirty! *slurp* —AnniieRose

2010-05-15 15:23:55   I was surprised that the man serving us last week was actually attentive and cheerful. You can't beat the price and the authenticity of this place (and you can shop Westlake next door!) :) —LeeY

2010-06-14 05:22:48   been here many times. Their food is quite good compared to many other Chinese restaurants around town but boy do I miss the Chinese food from LA. Generally they service is just ok, not great but at least their food is decent. I just wish they would upgrade their chairs. The cushion of their chairs are so worn out that you're basically sitting on the frames and the chair and hurting your ass. —C.Ling

2010-07-16 17:05:45   Even though the ambiance sucks, this is the best Chinese in Davis. You HAVE to try the eggplant in clay pot and the lion's head soup. The a choy greens are very garlicky and yummy. I went for dim sum one Saturday and wasn't satisfied though. —JasperD

2010-09-10 22:00:28   I tried my boyfriend's leftover dinner from Shanghai Town,(i microwaved the eggplant clay pot the next night) and it was amazing! I wanted more! So I just came back from Shanghai Town tonight and it was delicious! the servers/waitors were a young adult and a young 10/11yr old boy. The service was okay because you can tell that it is family runned but my boyfriend and i did not mind. Our dinner was great! My roommates are chinese and they love this place! they recommended shanghai town to us! :) and i'm happy that i went! DELICIOUS!!! you have to try the eggplant clay pot!!! —RyanaLove

2011-03-28 14:29:51   Went here the other day and was pleasantly surprised by the great food! Normally I go to Hunan, which is more of a cheap, greasy indulgence food. The food at Shanghai Town, however, was far less oily, and tasted more "real" or fresh than some other places in Davis. The crab-cheese wontons were filled with much more crab than I usually see, and the wrapper was thick and doughy, unlike most places that use a thin, cruncy wrapper. The pot stickers were also filled with a nice balance of veggies and meat, and weren't fatty or greasy. Delicious! —Morganna

2011-06-06 16:48:52   My husband and I are not Asian-style food connoisseurs by any means. We merely like food that tastes good. On our first visit we tried very 'safe' foods (names we recognized from Panda Express, etc. Yah, we're lame).... Shanghai Style chow mien, egg rolls, crab/cream cheese won tons, won ton soup, schezuan beef. Good portion size, good taste= we'll come back. It seemed a lot less greasy than Wok of Flame which is very near our house. For that reason alone we've decided to drive a little more out of the way to come back for more. —EmC

2011-06-30 22:56:50   they cock some traditional chinese food, but taste just so so. —jayhsu

  • I'm sure this is meant to say "cook" :) — jsbmeb

2011-07-05 18:42:48   I really love this restaurant. The food is awesome. It is not so easy to order by phone. They don't always answer. But I still love them. —Sherri

2011-07-06 22:22:09   I have to admit that I didn't like this place much the first time or two I tried it — not that I ever thought it was bad, but just that it was so-so. As a result, it was quite awhile before I tried it again. But then when I did — yum! Flavorful and fresh. A bit more oil than I'd like, but not *too* oily. I think the mistake I had made earlier was in ordering some dishes that I don't usually eat. It's fun to be adventurous sometimes, but let's face it, when most Americans want Chinese food, they want comfort food. I suspect that if you order dishes you usually like that you'll find they measure up to other places you've been, and that you won't be disappointed. —CovertProfessor

2011-08-13 23:18:02   I tried this place for the first time tonight and really enjoyed it! I went with my wife and a friend and between us we got the Shanghai-style Chow Mein, the Three Meat Special with Vegetables, and the Spare Ribs in Sweet and Sour Sauce. The chow mein was good; not all that exciting, but quite pleasant. Nice, mild sauce on it. Thicker noodles than the usual chow mein, and plenty of bok choi. The three meat special was fantastic. Quite spicy, delicious sauce, and the surprising and delicious mixture of chicken, pork, and squid, along with carrots, celery, huge hunks of jalapeno, and probably a couple of other veggies I'm forgetting at the moment. The spare ribs were also absolutely delicious. It was just the slightly crispy spare ribs, some sesame seeds, and lots of the amazing sauce (which goes great over some rice once you polish off the ribs).

It was a big change from our usual order of the typical Americanized Chinese dishes at most other Chinese restaurants (general, kung pao, hot garlic sauce, etc.), and it was a very welcome change. I'll certainly still be going to Hunan for our old favorites, but Shanghai Town will definitely be a go-to for different, probably much more authentic, Chinese food.

I also like the atmosphere there. Very basic. Family owned and very friendly. There's a pitcher of water from which you serve yourself. Photos of their specials ring the walls, so you can wander around and get some idea of what you want to try. Members of the family sit at a table in the corner chatting and helping you with anything you need, at least on a quiet night like tonight (it was nearly empty at 8:30 on a Saturday).

All in all, highly recommended. Try some of the specials, particularly ones that are different from what you're used to! —TomGarberson

2011-08-14 07:27:22   They have the most authentic Chinese food in town besides Hometown, at least this is what all my Chinese friends say...We like it a lot because they will cook you something that's not on the menu of you know what to ask for. —jsbmeb

2011-08-22 07:06:02   This is my favorite Chinese restaurant in Davis! I never got excited about Chinese in Davis (minus the Taiwanese plates at Hometown) until I came to Shanghai town. It definitely is not Americanized which is probably why I like it. Good portions for cheap and they offer dishes you cannot get elsewhere in Davis. Do not expect any service really and you will have a great time. I usually go for take out, but I have eaten there as well just make sure to take care of your own water. —KurtG

2011-10-19 17:11:06   If you have a broad and accepting taste pallet, this is probably the best restaurant in all of Davis. I have to laugh out loud at all the other whiteskins I see coming in here to order general chicken and sesame chicken. This isn't Panda express! If you want sickening meat candy, go to Panda, Hunan, or Silver Dragon! —ScottMeehleib

2011-11-15 19:29:36   Food was excellent and the service was great. I asked for some recommendations for non-spicy tofu dishes for my one-year old and the person taking my order offered a nice option. He even opened the door for me when I left since I had my hands full with a baby and take-out boxes. Given the amount of Chinese speakers in the establishment and how busy they were on a Tuesday night, I think this place is about as authentic as you can get in Davis. We will be back! —GlenWilkins

2012-02-01 10:27:38   I've been back a few times since my last review, and I'd say that Shanghai Town has become my favorite Chinese restaurant in town. The food is always excellent. The ingredients always seem very fresh and perfectly cooked. Some of the dishes are a little heavy on oil (Mongolian beef, for example), but that's just part of the cooking style. They taste absolutely delicious. There are also plenty of options that aren't heavy on oil (e.g. three meat special with vegetables, which is one of our go-tos). I've gotta say, though the General's Chicken is probably my single favorite dish there. I know, I know, how American... but the texture and the sauce are absolutely perfect. The Shanghai style chow mein is a staple in our orders as well. It's different from traditional chow mein, but really, really tasty.

Update: I recently ordered the Eight Treasures in Pepper Sauce (under the pork section of the menu). It's the one thing I've had there that I didn't absolutely love. It's got an interesting mix of cinnamon and jalapeno. The first bite is pretty interesting, but I couldn't eat more than a few bites. It just gets cloying. My wife didn't mind it as much as I did, but we still ended up throwing out most of the leftovers—the only time I've done that with Chinese food. Everything else we ordered was, as always, absolutely delicious! —TomGarberson

2012-07-16 13:49:07   My new favorite chinese restaurant —JSlice

2012-12-01 18:12:19   Food is great here. Probably the best Chinese food in town. However, waiting an hour for an order to go is completely unacceptable, especially when the place isn't packed and food was ordered a little past 5pm. —BingL

2012-12-01 23:43:13   Tried out the mu shu pork last week. Best mu shu I've ever had, bar none. It looks a little messy because the ingredients are all shredded more finely than more places, but holy crap it's delicious. —TomGarberson

2012-12-17 21:02:29   The mushu pork is very good and is a lot of food for 7.95. Everything you get here seems to be a lot of food for the money. The potstickers and shanghai style chowmein are also great. The boiled beef doesn't have a very sexy name, but if you like beef and can handle heat, it's one of the spiciest, beefiest dishes that money can buy. Didn't really care for the the salted, spicy ribs, which were breaded and fried little cuts of fatty ribs. —MikeyCrews

2013-01-27 19:26:32   This is the best place for REAL chinese food in Davis! Don't order from the gringo menu. —JasperD

2013-04-29 12:04:26   Eggplant Vermicelli and Shredded Pork Clay Pot dish is fantastic. I've only ordered off the Shanghai Style Special menu for entrees, but every one of the dishes I've tried has been very good. The Dim Sum is also worth a go. The place makes great food.


2013-06-27 10:06:10   Haven't been here in awhile. Wanted something different and saw that a post about the boiled beef. Got that and the calamari. Both were so flavorful and so different. The boiled beef is nothing like its name. —LokiAbbi

2013-07-19 13:04:31   The food here is pretty good. The americanized food is a little different than you would expect from most chinese restaurants, you can tell that it is made to emulate that style while still being home made (mostly at least). Two words of warning though:

First, if they say the food will be ready in 25-30 minutes, they really mean 45 most of the time. And second, if you deviate from americanized food and get more traditional beef dishes, be prepared to deal with cartilage. Not necessarily a bad thing, just a matter of taste.

Overall, quality and taste varies a lot dish to dish. I love their sesame chicken (which is definitely different from most sesame chicken I've had) but I'm not a fan of their general chicken. I love their boiled beef, but not so much their short ribs (read: not a fan of cartilage, otherwise they are fine). Depending on the dish, sometimes they fry chunks of chicken, and others they fry slices of chicken instead (slices tend to be kind of chewy). Sweet and sour items come with more fruits and vegetables than I would like, and the fruits and vegetables aren't as cooked as I would like, and it comes in the typical expected sweet and sour sauce. Their shanghai chow mein is pretty good too.

Most of their dim sum is just ok from what I can tell, nothing to write home about.

And service is pretty much always slow, unless you go at lunch when they serve various dish specials in the same way panda express does, from heat trays. —AndrewJacobs

2014-01-13 13:43:22   We love Shanghai Town ... we've been going here since college and even seen the little kid who helps out grow up over the years ... Not the fastest service but you get good chow for the price. Low maintenance place. Don't go for the fast food they have out at lunch ... take some time sit down and order something from the menu or the pictures on the wall. You won't regret it. I personally like the Shanghainese Prawns and the clay pots they have. —MimiM

2014-06-15 15:58:38   Just went for the first time and I will be going back! The ambience is pretty cafeteria like, but that adds to the experience. The eggplant vermicelli was great. We also got the pea sprouts, which were delicious and fresh- it seems like one can't lose with the simple vegetable dishes. —IdaFischer

2014-10-18 23:55:39   This place is pretty great. Super cheap, can't go wrong with the combo, which is a ton of food for $8. Fried rice could be a little better, but I won't complain. —MGreen

2016-02-21 22:11:33   This place is our go-to option when we don't have anything to eat at home. The food is usually good. However, we have noticed that the portions have gotten smaller since we started eating here around the summer of 2014. The two of us used to buy 2 plates and it would easily last us for two meals with leftovers. Now, we pretty much finish everything in one sitting. (I don't think we are eating more... :-) ) Based on the smaller portions I wouldn't call the food 'very affordably priced' anymore. One tip, make sure you ask for one of the plastic bags for take out. They are worth the extra 10 cents. The styrofoam boxes leak like crazy, so if you bring you own bags they will smell like Chinese food until you wash them! —EricJensen

2016-02-21 22:11:34   This place is our go-to option when we don't have anything to eat at home. The food is usually good. However, we have noticed that the portions have gotten smaller since we started eating here around the summer of 2014. The two of us used to buy 2 plates and it would easily last us for two meals with leftovers. Now, we pretty much finish everything in one sitting. (I don't think we are eating more... :-) ) Based on the smaller portions I wouldn't call the food 'very affordably priced' anymore. One tip, make sure you ask for one of the plastic bags for take out. They are worth the extra 10 cents. The styrofoam boxes leak like crazy, so if you bring you own bags they will smell like Chinese food until you wash them! —EricJensen

2016-03-04 00:12:46   Is the Dim Sum on page 3 above, the only dim sum they offer? —JamieJamison