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Good News/ Bad News Shang

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The long anticipated Susur Lee venture in the Thompson LES, Shang, opened in the beginning of December after months of pre-opening buzz and a major Gourmet preview party. Over the last month, none of the major critics have had time to weigh in, but the bloggers, eGulleters, Yelpers, and Chowhounders have filed numerous and wildly divergent reports. Some think Lee is the second coming, others are reminded of the cursed Wakiya. We present the good news and the bad news:

The Mostly Good News: Almost all of the Yelpers are immediate fans: "We started off with Oxtail Soup Dumpling. I love oxtail in general, so i thorougly enjoyed flavor of the meat and also the broth that came in. You should dump the sauce it comes with in the soup for a richer flavor. Singapore Slaw came highly recommended. I didn't think it was that great, but YOU CANNOT MISS their TURNIP CAKE!!! wow it was out of this world. By far the best dish of the night!...Although happily stuffed, dessert sounded amazing...I'd love to bring some of my chinese friends to show them that you don't have to go to chinatown to get good chinese food." [Yelp]

The Very Bad News: An eGulleter has an early and negative review: "To summarize - vastly disappointing. Service was very, very slow, flavors were off, a lot of the compositions didn't make a ton of sense - there seems to be a predilection toward a crispy noodle/kataifi crust on top of a number of dishes...It reminds me a lot of Wakiya, although the style of high-end Chinese is very different, it has many of the same failings." [eG]

The Great News: Food in Mouth runs a beautiful photo tour of dishes and a mostly positive review: "I was really impressed with Shang and the restaurant certainly has great promise. If you want to try good fusion food, this will probably become one of the best places to try that in the city. The cost of a meal at Shang will price it out of consideration as an everyday, neighborhood joint. But if you like something special, this place would probably be near the top of my imaginary list." [FiM]

The OK News: On the whole, the eGulleters give a mix bag, but here's one of the positives: "I also thought the flavors were excellent and well-balanced, and I would certainly return (soon), given the food, price points, etc. I hope Lee is successful enough with this venture that we eventually get to experience the more ambitious experience of his former Toronto restaurant, which I understand he closed this summer to focus on Shang...the service had a few noticeable gaps in it. The servers were very pleasant and seemed quite knowledgeable about the food, but would often disappear for long periods when they shouldn't have." [eG]

The Bad News: One of the first Chowhounders comments on the bad news: "Out waitress was really not at all knowledgeable about the menu...When asked about specific dishes or for recommendations the waitress just looked over our shoulders and read straight off the menu. She really seemed to have no idea about the establishment or the menu which was disheartening. The waitress knew half of our table was vegetarian since we told her and asked about it. She brought out the vegetarian dishes first then after those were done the meat dishes. This resulted in our party eating at two different times...The food, the most important thing was just okay." [CH]

The Mostly Bad News: And one more service foul up from an eGullet report: "I thought the food was creative, tasty, pretty and well executed. We were served family style with a party of 8, which is not my favorite way of eating intricately plated dishes. Some of the dishes worked better than others this way, but I found an inconsistency in the provision of serving utensils. Another issue was not matching portions to the number of our party. For example, we were served 6 wonderful Mongolian lamb chops, but needed 7 for everyone in our party...FWIW, Susur Lee was not in house Saturday night." [eG]