The Shanghai Delight 4654 Wisconsin Ave. NW. 363-7070, 363-7071
Hours: Monday through Thursdays from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sundays from 4 to 10 p.m.
Atmosphere: A relaxed setting where children and chopsticks click easily
Price Range: Be it pork, beef, lamb, chicken or seafood, there's an appealing dish between $2.95 and $5.75, not to mention fancy duck for $7.50.
Special Facilities: Accessible by wheelchair. High chairs are available. Free parking on a little lot.
Barley had we digested the seventh grade basketball team's Season Championship Pizza when two of the team's stellar guards began bouncing around proposals for a Sunday soiree. What better topping for all this, they suggested, than a Chinese dinner?
Since my wife and I didn't contest them, the boys were still undefeated after a strenuous man-to-mandarin drill. Even our 9-year-old daughter, who had just returned from a meal with friends, was game for this plan.
We chose the Shanghai Delight for two reason: (1) It's conveniently located right there in the shadow of the Channel 9 tower, and (2) our Family Out editors keep telling us to reinvade some our favorite stops of yesteryear.
Quite aside from the fare, our main memory of this place had to do with one C.C. Chang, whose"Famous Chinese Tailoring" shares the outside billing with the restaurant. His shop is on the second floor, thereby making his tailoring a cut above it all.
How he must labor, poor dear - the sign on the door says his hours are 10 to 4 a.m. Presumably, diners can stuff themselves downstairs and then get their clothes let out to go.
The dining room - unlike many chinese restaurants where the floors, tables and walls all match in basic bare - is actually appealing. The overhead lighting with tassles, the white table-cloths and the sweaters jeans and sport shirts of the neighborhood clientele mesh well.
Right away came a pot of hot tea, which was left to simmer as we led off with three colas and two Asahi (Japan) beers.
Teamwork took over in the opening minutes as the two boys shared an egg drop soup, 65 cents, and an order of two egg rolls, $1.20. To that we added another egg drop for our daughter and order of Szechuan Soup that serves two, for $2.45.
What, you may ask, is Szechuan Soup? That was what I asked myself, right after tasting it -but it is good. Mostly it is pork, bamboo shoots and cabbage that contribute to the flavor of this not-overly-spicy starter.
A plug at this point for the plateful of probably home-made water noodles that accompanied the soup-crisp, puffy and only fleeting visible as 50 fingers swooped them up.
Showing admirable restraint, our daughter didn't order a second dinner of the day, but instead staked out servings from the rest of us.
Peter, our 12-year-old son's comrade-in-chow, turned out to be a veteran player on the Chinese restaurant circuit; he asked for a round of chopsticks and rice bowls and handled the works with ease.
These works included his selection of No. 9, Szechuan Beef $5.15, which is shredded and served with celery, carrots and onions, all toss-fried and spict. While it wasn't the hottest thing we've ever tasted, it was enought to moisten the old eyebrows just a bit.
The son took a shine to No.12, "Two Kinds of Meat," $5.25, which are shreded chicken and tenderloin beef, Szechuan-style. This was a popular combination, only moderately hot.
Fried Lamb, $4.95, selected by my wife, had a nifty touch of ginger, as did my enormous platter of Crisp Chicken, $4.95, in which I reveled.
Back in the game for dessert was our daughter, who remembered (from her immediate past meal, it turned out) a good way to polish things off: It was listed here as the "House Special Sweet," involving either apples or bananas. One serving, at $3.95, is described as being for two people, but it was easily enough for the five of us. Here's what it involved:
Hot, skinned apples were rolled in a sugar-caramel substance and dipped in a pool of ice water. That makes a hard-brittle coating while the apple stays hot. The result is a Chinese candy apple that most children will find finger-stiokin' good.
Yes, there were fortune cookies, too written by some pun-ton hotshot who advises in No. 277 that "You will win a fishing contest soon because of your line."
The kids also remembered that any Chinese restaurant worth its soy sauce has a cache of those little paper parasols for covering drinks.From a most accomodating staff, each child was presented one; and in no time flat, of course, each was graphically reminded that these lttle umbrellas are a Chinese restaurant's answer to ballons. Just as you get kind of fond of one, it breaks into a million pieces.
By now it was time to break things up, anyway, which we did after breaking down the bill for everything that the five of us had away. The total was $35.07 plus tip-hardly devastating for such a full and fruitful family feast.