I finally came to Grand Shanghai and was impressed with their unusual menu items, from fried tofu skins to the "8 treasure rice pudding." Their specials board suggested a variety of vegetable stir-frys, though I didn't ask about those. The place was bustling and filled mostly with families eager to set their children on the early road to obesity through $6.99 all-you-can-eat buffets. As such, if you're coming to the restaurant alone or with only one other person, be warned that they'll seat you in a high-traffic and busy area with kids running around and people picking up take-out orders.
I had the mock goose (thick mushrooms wrapped in fried tofu skins and cooked in a wine sauce) and the "tofu skins with Chinese greens." The mock goose is ostensibly an appetizer though, at $7.25, it's quite expensive and the portion size could easily constitute an entire meal. That said, it was delicious. The tofu skins are semi-crunchy and chewy, amazingly all at once, and the mushrooms were delectable. This was a highly unusual dish with tricky and complex textures. It's also one I've never seen before and I've eaten at hundreds of Chinese restaurants.
But my main dish, tofu skins with Chinese greens, was mundane. I asked them to veganize it and the dish they served to me was bok choy and whole soy beans with the tofu skins stir-fried in corn oil. No soy sauce, no chili oil, nothing. It was amazingly bland. Sadly, there was no brown rice option, either. I hate white rice.
However, the tofu skins in this dish were prepared differently---they looked like long, flat egg noodles and were super-thin (only a special machine could slice tofu than thinly). The consistency of the tofu skins also reminded me heavily of high-grade cheese. With a little bit of nutritional yeast we could have the perfect mozzarella substitute.
Also, with a more creative chef, these tofu skins could become the backbone of many a delicious dish (here's hoping Evergreen will start using them).
Grand Shanghai is a cut above the average Chinese restaurant and offers unusual dishes with delicious tofu skins. But their vegetarian selection seems bland, excepting the mock goose. I would recommend this place if you're in St. Paul; otherwise, stick to Evergreen in Minneapolis.