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Take 5 with Richard Wong

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Title: Founder Chinablue and author of Modern Asian Flavors, a Taste of Shanghai
Hometown: Shanghai, now lives in Sausalito

1. What are "modern Asian flavors" and "a taste of Shanghai" all about?
For years I've cooked my family's recipes for my friends and people really like the Shanghainese flavors. Shanghai was a true melting pot, with Europeans, Americans, Indians, so the flavor is much more European style. The flavors are in the sauces that come from a specific dish. In modern Asian cuisine, if you don't want to cook Chinese you don't have to, use the flavors and sauces anyway you like to.

2. Why did you decide to share your Chinablue recipes?
I wanted to take Shanghainese flavor profiles and bring them into American households. People don't cook anymore, they prepare, mostly the recipe are for dishes anyone can make. The sauces in the book aren't exactly the same as the ones from Chinablue.

3. How does Shanghai cuisine compare to other styles of Chinese food?
A few things, there's a sweetness to everything, it's a cleaner type of cuisine not using heavy sauces like hoisin, a complexity to the flavor that is never overbearing. Enhancing a dish but never overpowering it. More of a "dish" from a visual perception. When you're eating shrimp, you're eating shrimp, there isn't too much else in the dish. It's not the country style "one-pot" type of stir-fry. It's much more refined, sophisticated for the wealthier city people.

4. Other than your house, where can people find great Shanghainese food in San Francisco?
Shanghai 1930 is good, if a little diluted, I ate at Old Shanghai on Geary with my mom and it was good.


5. You left Shanghai when you were still a child, what is it like today?
It's like San Francisco, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago all in one city and growing ten times faster. It's becoming the gateway to culture like Paris or New York.

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