216 E 6th St.
Cincinnati, OH 45202
Cincinnati’s downtown has always been active late into the night, owing to the many bars and restaurants that keep people wandering through. But when you’re out late, you inevitably get hungry, and the city could use more late-night food options. Shanghai Mama’s, themed after prohibition-era Japan, feels like an old-school noodle shop on its face, and being open late into the night is a definite plus. The variety of noodles from Japan and other nations is impressive, and the execution makes the difference.
The noodles are the star of the show. Some things to try:
- Shanghai Noodles: Giant thick stir-fried noodles smothered in a sweet chili, garlic, ginger and soy sauce. Slippery, saucy noodles slurp up fast. These noodles are filling and very satisfying, but there’s a bit of saltiness to them too.
- Pad Thai: The classic Thai noodle favorite for any time of the day, these want for nothing in the strong peanut sauce and muted warmth. Heavy is the word.
- Mongolian Beef: Thick cuts of beef doused in a soy-based thick sauce with peppers and onions. Liberal sauce, for sure, but there’s a little, subtle spicy here anyway.
- Duck Confit Noodle: These thin Singapore noodles have a twist with the wonderful, juicy roasted duck served alongside. It adds an extra little bit of hearty goodness to a soup recipe. There’s a bit of a saltiness to this one, though, too.
- Crab Rangoon: The popular crunchy wonton-wrapped Crab rangoons are easy to eat quickly. But don’t forget the sweet chili sauce that comes with them. Hopeful for more actual crab in them, though.
The restaurant’s late hours and rigorous service make it a good option after the bars have closed, and in fact the word seems to be out on that part — a ton of people come in the doors in those late hours, and yet they’re shepherded through and get their food very quickly. There are some drinking options but the food is really what people are here for, and it can be taken for carry-out pretty easily, too.
The price points aren’t too bad given downtown Cincinnati’s glut of higher-end restaurants, it’s nice to see something more simple and economical doing well. The decor of the place offers kind of a funny little experience back in time to “Mama’s time” in 1920’s Shanghai. And the staff aren’t bad either. Shanghai Mama’s is a great late-night option for a city that is always on the go.
- A good late night option, if you don’t mind the occasionally colorful crowd.
- Noodle dishes are really what people like best here, though of course these can sometimes be a little on the heavy end.
- Very hungry? Appetizers here come lightning-fast.