ROM: Shanghai Jade

by Rosa Stern Pait and Chris Bell

Photo by Isabel Meyers Shanghai Jade is located at 1330 Beacon St #2, Brookline, MA 02446
Photo by Isabel Meyers 

1374 Beacon St. Brookline, MA 02446

(617) 783-1018

Mon-Thurs 11:30a.m.- 10p.m.

Fri – Sun 11:30a.m. – 11p.m.

One fruit smoothie was a fresh blend of real ingredients, while another tasted like bubble gum. The wonton soup was rich, while other soups lacked flavor entirely. The service was attentive, but the waiters seemed inexperienced.

The clashing red-and-green color scheme at Shanghai Jade, a new Chinese restaurant in Coolidge Corner, turned out to be a harbinger of the uneven atmosphere of the restaurant. Just a few months after opening, it has not yet chosen an identity as an upscale noodle bar, a place for a quick bite or something else entirely.

The interior of Shanghai Jade is similar to that of a modern noodle bar. The ambiance is calm and relaxing, despite tacky pop music in the background. On a Friday night, the restaurant was nearly empty; only a few tables were occupied including ours.

Each dish was labeled with a number and letter, and occasionally with a corresponding picture, which was reminiscent of a casual takeout Chinese place. Our server made it clear that everyone at the table had to order by number rather than name of the dish.

One of the most delicious dishes we ordered was the Egg Drop Soup ($2.95). The egg was well churned and blended into the broth. This gave it a creamy texture with a delicate mixture of sweet and salty. The Dan Dan Noodles and Soup ($6.95) had a thin broth and limp noodles.

Photo by Hannah Lowenstein
Photo by Hannah Lowenstein

The Leek Pie ($5.95) was another disappointment. Its outer shell was more solid than crispy; the shredded egg-and-leek filling was grainy. In contrast, the Pan Fried Pork Bun ($5.57) had a fulfilling crisp bottom and tender center.

The Spicy Curry Chicken ($10.95) was one of Shanghai Jade’s most significant triumphs. Worthy of its place on the chef’s specials menu, it was temptingly creamy, just sweet enough and bursting with flavor.

Photo by Hannah Lowenstein
Photo by Hannah Lowenstein

The Pork Fried Rice ($7.50) was, however, plain and straightforward. It included spongy pork, bean sprouts and egg. It did arrive at the perfect temperature, not too hot but just warm enough.

The meat in the Pork Rib Noodles and Soup ($6.95) was very overcooked and impossible to cut inside the bowl. The broth of the soup was extraordinarily bland, with the flavor potency of a badly mixed batch of Kool-Aid.

The fruit smoothies ($3.85) had a nice presentation, and the blueberry kiwi smoothies included shreds of real fruit. The strawberry smoothie, however, had an artificial bubblegum tang.

The true hero of the day was definitely the Thai iced tea ($3.95). Everyone at the table made sure to try it. This drink was soothing and delicious, and nearly made up for some of the mediocre dishes we had eaten that night. It left a pleasantly smoky, wooden flavor on the backs of our tongues.

Overall, we found the pricing quite reasonable, especially with the large portions of both food and drinks. The one exception was the Thai iced tea, which is available at the exact same quality but for a few dollars less at many similar restaurants.

Shanghai Jade does not necessarily make for a bad meal. The atmosphere is welcoming and there are a few truly tasty dishes. However, the lack of consistency in both style and quality failed to make this an entirely enjoyable dining experience.

Rosa Stern Pait and Chris Bell can be contacted at [email protected]