I knew I wanted to go to Chinatown for dinner, but I didn't know where. Turning to the Internet, I got everything from "Don't eat in Chinatown!" to "Great restaurant!" One review seemed cogent, a thumbs up for Bund Shanghai, with emphasis on authentic.
It's off the main drag (Grant Ave), and doesn't look like much. Of course in my experience the fancy looking places are a crapshoot, and the old Chinese maxim is that if the proprietors spent all that money on the decor, the food must have been shorted in the deal. In this case the interior is really not that bad, the tables were clean, and I was seated quickly on a weekend evening as a party of one. And I was one of the only gwai lo in the place, which is usually a good sign. The service, like most in SF, was a bit brusque, and if you wanted something you had to make eye contact with a prowling waitron . . . but they did prowl. When I asked for something it came quickly, which is what I need.
Salt peanuts and nice fresh tea (let it sit a bit, my immediate pour gave me a fair amount of loose leaf) were served with the menu. I like that. The small hot and sour soup is enough for four typical restaurant servings (see pic, $4.50), and was delicious. Not very hot, but very nicely balanced. The hot oil made up for that (pic), and was blazing. Probably from a bottle, but a good bottle at least. I'd like to know the brand.
The vegetarian spring rolls were lovely, really fresh out of the fryer (I HATE cold/cool/warm food that should be HOT), not too greasy, the veg inside just right (4 for $4.50, see pic). It's not easy to find a place that can do a veg spring roll that has crisp skin, not oily, with just the right crispness to the veg (not crunchy/chewy, not soggy). And the plum sauce was just right, sweet but with a nice balanced tanginess. You can tell a lot about a Chinese place by their plum sauce. Bund's was definitely homemade and tasty.
Finally, the masterpiece. Beef Fried Noodle in Black Pepper Sauce ($8.50!!). I was expecting those too crunchy and at the same time too soggy pan-fried noodles with indifferent vegetables and chewy, cheap beef cuts. What a shock! Perfectly cooked noodles (al dente), just the right crispy texture veg (cabbage, onion, green bean), and shockingly tender and generously portioned beef . . . from the texture, tenderloin. Just the right black pepperiness in the sauce. Brilliant dish.
Overall I loved the place. I admit the service wasn't fawning, in fact you had to wave someone down in most cases. But they were wavable, and didn't spend their time chatting near the kitchen and ignoring the room. And the food . . . simply yummers.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.