Shanghai Red’s, Marina Del Rey, Los Angeles

Shanghai Red’s, Marina Del Rey, Los Angeles

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  1. I’ll say this for Shanghai Red’s: you get a great view of the Marina while you’re dining. I’ll also say this: if you want really good food, eat somewhere else.


    Outwardly, Shanghai Red’s is an appealing place. Located right off the Marina, with wall-wide picture windows offering panoramic views of boats sailing by—not to mention an outdoor patio where you can dine on the rare windless days—the restaurant’s moderately classy appearance draws attention; yet it is not too pretentious, so even people who can’t stand glitz for the sake of glitz (like me) will not be discouraged from dining. At least not until they try the food.


     As you walk through the garden toward the entrance, several connected koi ponds may enchant you enough to influence your taste buds into believing the food is better than it actually is. My guess is that is the primary purpose of the ponds and giant goldfish.

    My family used to go exclusively for the weekend brunch.  I was always game—as long as someone else was paying, because I wasn’t about to pay over $70 for my wife and me, not when she gets full on two ounces of food and less than 10 percent of the offerings appeal to me. Shanghai Red’s brunch is a fair sight better than those seafood buffets charging only $15 a head that are popping up all over Southern California, but when you’re just a small step above Red Lobster, as Shanghai Red’s is, 36 bucks a pop is a little steep if you ask me. Now, if the food was actually good….


    This is not to say that Shanghai Red’s food is bad, or even mediocre. I am not averse to eating at Red Lobster; Shanghai Red’s is better than Red Lobster (marginally); therefore I have no problem eating the food, though I can’t think of a single item that would qualify as “great” (except some of the deserts, but who has room for desert after gorging themselves on an all-you-can-eat buffet?). Sure, the eggs Benedict is okay, as long as you don’t mind that they’ve been sitting under a heat lamp for half an hour, the English muffins are soggy and the egg yolks are as dry as the Mojave, but keep in mind that there’s always a Denny’s nearby. For the price, you wouldn’t expect Dom Perignon champagne, but the sparkling wine they serve can hardly be called “champagne.”

    As for a sit down dinner or lunch, the quality of the food just doesn’t match the prices. Of course, you’re paying for the view, but you’d be better off eating a good homemade meal in front of a TV showing an episode of Bay Watch.

    When it comes to fish and chips, I’d rather drive for four hours to Morro Bay—which also has a bay view—and have them made properly than spend twice as much on the trendy facsimile served at Red’s.  The steaks taste like they were plopped under a broiler for a few minutes and are hardly what I’d call tender—unless it’s the filet mignon, which is naturally tender, so even Red’s would have a hard time making it tough.  

    The oysters are, well, oysters. How can you screw up an oyster, unless you let it sit over a heater vent for an hour before serving it? But they are small and, for the price, left me wanting another three servings that I couldn’t afford.  


     The one item that really stood out for me was the lobster, spinach and artichoke dip appetizer, served with a mix of normal and mutant blue tortilla chips that I swear came out of a bag of some sort. The dip was truly outstanding, and it better be considering you get a tiny dish of the stuff for $11.

    All in all, I have to say that for a meal that costs nearly $100 for two people—including drinks, appetizers and tip, if any (but no desert)—you can save a lot of money and have a more satisfying meal if you drive down Washington Boulevard to Sepulveda and have a pastrami sandwich at Johnnie’s.

    Shanghai Red’s

    13813 Fiji Way 
    Marina del Rey, CA 90292

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