Atmosphere: Relaxed, no need to dress up.
Price range: From chow mein or fried rice at $2.95 to duck or lobster at $7.50, single portions are large enough to share.
Hours: Mondays through Thursdays from 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays until 11 p.m., Sundays from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Also, special Sunday all-you-can eat buffets from noon to 4 p.m. (but call ahead to make sure it's on.)
Special facilities: Accessible by wheelchair. High chairs available. Free parking lot.
Reservations: Not necessary.
Credit cards: Bank-Americard, Carte Blanche, Diners Club, Master Charge, Visa.
It was one of my slickly organized Sunday evening outings, in which we had (1) journeyed to a pizza place that was locked up tight, (2) gone across the street to a spot that was open but apparently not for business and (3) been informed by the people at another pizzeria that if we would just stand outside in a freezing tent for about 15 minutes or so there might be a spot to sit down inside.
I then let our foursome smartly to the car for an aimless ride up Wisconsin Avenue. Comes now the beginning of a happy ending, when we spot a sign that announces, "Excellent Chinese Cuisine/Famous Chinese Tailoring 2nd Floor." Why not? Even if weren't in proper attire, somebody upstairs could suit us up . . .
The tailor is C. C. Chang, who wasn't in. But most of the place is the Shanghai Delight - and so it turned out to be.
Unlike so many bleak-wall-and-bare-table-top Chinese eateries, here was a soft and quiet room with real table cloths, linen napkins, carpeting and just a gentle touch of Asian music to muffle the sound from other tables.
We didn't need Mr. Chang, for we could see that the other guests had come as they were, which was mostly in their native costumes of blue denim.
Right away we were attended by a series of charming women who speak softly (and presumably carry big chopsticks). We began with a round of popular Chinese drinks: pina colada with paper parasol, Asahi Beer from Tokyo and two Cokes.
Mandarin Cuisine, it says on the menu, which turns out to have 46 main courses by number, still other unciphered dishes and a clip-on card of seafood specials such as fresh crab at $2.95 for small, $4.50 for large; shrimp with shell, Chinese style, at $3.75 and $6.25, and lobster, Cantonese and Szechuan style, at $6.75.
First to three super soups, accompanied by a dish of nifty, fresh-baked light noodles: Our son, 11, and daughter, 8, each ordered egg drop at 55 cents, which they were pleased to report had been heavily egged.
My wife's order of Peking Soup, at 95 cents, was a marvelous blend of chicken breast, bean curd and egg "julienned in chicken broth, slightly peppery." I had a well won-tonned soup for 75 cents.
The four of us split an order of two beautifully crisp egg rolls at $1.20, which disappeared in a quick four-way clang of forks.
Without debate, both children voted for moo shi pork, which is the one you wrap in thin pancakes. They loved it, but would have been just as infatuated by one order at $4.75 with some extra pancakes, instead of two. The portions here are huge and although there are no child's orders per se, splitting is fine with the management.
My wife's fried lamb at $4.95 - tender strips quick-fried in sherry sauce - was esterisked on the menu, which means "hot and spicy." But none of us found it all that scorching and all of us liked it.
The real-fun throat-blazer, it turned out, was my large and zesty portion of chicken curry at $4.25. There were countless cubes of it, mixed with a few peas and a slice or two of carrot in a sauce that may not scorch but doesn't let you forget it for at least three cups of tea. There was also a plate of fried rice (steamed if you'd rather) that helped smother the fire.
We might have had desert if Mr. Chang had been around to let out the waists an inch or so.Instead, one of our attendants volunteered to have the left-over moo shi bagged up and she returned it along with four fortune cookies.
Now, these cookies could stand a new eidtorial writer, unless you're particularly moved by observations such as, "Better to hear curses than to be pitied," or "You have much more reason to be humble than you think."
We much preferred the message on each of the little menus they gave us to take home, which said, "With this coupon we offer a FREE regular cocktail with your dinner AND 10% off on main course. Good for 10 times."
This flyer also states that there's a Szechuan-style Sunday family buffet from noon to 4 p.m. with all you can eat for $3.95, children under 12 for $2.50. But we advised to check on this before coming, to make sure it's on.
So while our bill for everything totaled $28.57 plus tip, a second-timer with a knowledge of the huge portions could come out a few bills better. And according to a knowledgeable friend whom we ran into during our visit, the lunch prices are even more attractive for those same hefty portions.
The Shanghai Delight apparently is less than a year old, but if our initial reaction was at all typical, this place should ride out the Year of the Horse in grand style.