I was greeted by owner/chef Sheng Dong and was surprised to see that Shangrila is definitely not a typical Chinese restaurant that you find in the Valley. There's no buffet. I entered a large, very comfortable dining room sectioned into semi-private seating areas. There's also sushi bar with seating where you can watch Sheng, as I found out later, turn everything into a masterpiece on a plate.
As I settled into a booth, Sheng asked if I like seafood so I immediately knew this was going to be good. I love seafood! Sheng's wife, Jenny, brought me a pot a tea as I looked at the menu wondering what I would get to sample. The tea is speckled with actual tea leaves and I enjoyed it very much. Shangrila offers both Chinese and Japanese selections. Everything from Soup and Sushi to Teriyaki and Maki. You definitely will have a hard time deciding what to order. It all sounds amazing. One thing caught my eye on the lunch menu. Lunch Bento Box. There are six to choose from and it's served in a Bento Box which is a divided dish that contains a main entree, soup or salad, rice, spring roll, california roll and Shumai. I've never seen this before and will have to come back for that one.
I looked up and saw Sheng walking over with a huge plate of food. "General Tso's Chicken". One of my favorites and a very popular dish according to Sheng. A big portion of food, piping hot and the scent of orange made my mouth water. Large chunks of chicken glistened in a golden orange sauce on a bed of fresh broccoli. The plate has a row of sliced oranges separating the chicken from the fried rice and the plate is garnished with a mound of fresh carrot strings and a sprig of parsley. So much food in one serving yet Sheng tells me this is a "small portion". He was bringing out another dish later and didn't want me to get too full. According to him, the regular portion has much more. Beautiful colors, wonderful aroma, can't wait to try it. I cut into the chicken and find that it's lightly breaded and all white meat. Sheng uses "no thigh meat, all white, lightly breaded. There's more meat." One bite and you know this is top quality food. The chicken is moist with just the right amount of breading and the sauce is sweet from the orange with a little hot pepper heat that is perfect. There are a lot of textures and a lot of flavors in this dish which I love and somehow they all work so wonderfully together.
As I was still enjoying the General's chicken, Jenny brought out a platter from the sushi bar. I was blown away by how beautiful this food looks. Food is art, and Sheng is an amazing artist. I'm not a sushi expert so I asked Jenny what I was about to try. A beautiful lime green wrapped roll called the Godzilla Roll and a Spicy Tuna Roll displayed like a lovely flower. Both firsts for me and I couldn't wait. The garnish and complete plate presentation was almost too pretty to eat. It's like a still life 3-D painting created from food. The Godzilla Roll looked like a long boat with tempura shrimp at the bow and stern. A row of sliced cucumbers stacked to look like waves in water. A slice of orange had the peel flared in strips to represent the sun. Next to that, on the "beach", was a Spicy Tuna Roll sliced and shaped into pedals and leaves on a soy reduction 'stem' that was drawn on the plate. I love the special touches of wasabi, pickled ginger and heart shaped swirls in the spicy mayo. As much as I enjoyed the beauty of the dish, I couldn't wait any longer. I picked up my chopsticks, poured a bit of soy sauce in a dipping bowl and went for the Godzilla Roll. This roll has a lot of things rolled up in a beautiful lime green soy bean paper. The tempura shrimp was delicious and the roll itself was amazing. Spicy tuna, lobster, cream cheese, avocado and cucumber. Two sauces, the spicy mayo and a reduced soy sauce are drizzled on top. It is so good. I love the pickled ginger and really love the fiery wasabi. I don't think it gets any better than this. So fresh and light. I am loving this restaurant. I had a hard time pulling my chopsticks away from Godzilla but managed to swing over to the flower shaped Spicy Tuna Roll. Again, an amazing bite. Sticky rice rolled around seaweed paper, spicy tuna and a crunch which Jenny tells me is "tempura breading". If you've never tried sushi because you thought it was fishy tasting, you must come here. I am totally sold on sushi at Shangrila. Ever since my review, I've been craving it. It's that good. So fresh, so beautiful, so delicious. I can't wait to go back for more.
Sheng came over to see what I thought and I couldn't express how much I was impressed with his skills and his food. He tells me "I love making food and sometimes when I have time I can make a dragon on a plate with the sauce." I feel he has a lot of ideas when it comes to sushi presentation. He said to check out their Facebook page, he likes to make different sushi of the day and will post the specials there. If you like what you see, call ahead and order and it will be ready for pick up. As far as favorites, Sheng tells me "the Lion King is very popular. This roll is put together then topped with a piece of salmon, then baked." So if you think Sushi is all raw fish, Sheng will turn you, like he did me, into a Sushi lover. I can't wait to go back.