Slideshow: Behind the Scenes at China Blue, the Shanghai-Style Restaurant From the Cafe China Team

The China Blue kitchen team
The China Blue kitchen team
Cutting tofu
Cutting tofu
Like the mapo tofu served uptown at Cafe China, blocks of tofu are braised, then cubed. Unlike the tofu at Cafe China, this bean curd will go into a lighter dish with crab.
Flaming sauce
Flaming sauce
The sauce is reduced and scorched in the wok.
Wheat gluten
Wheat gluten
Here's kaofu (a type of seitan), a spongy protein made from wheat gluten.
Kaofu up!
Kaofu up!
The Kaofu is served Ningbo-style, torn into chunks and fried in the wok with shiitake mushrooms and bamboo shoots.
Kaofu, plated
Kaofu, plated
Here it is on the plate.
Plating eel
Plating eel
Wuxi sauce is made with a base of soy and rice wine.
Shredded Eel Sauteed with Chives
Shredded Eel Sauteed with Chives
Sliced squid
Sliced squid
The patterns that are carved into the squid are both decorative and functional. The edges help sauce cling to the squid.
Now on to noodles
Now on to noodles
These crispy pan-fried noodles will form the base of a pork, shrimp, and vegetable stir fry.
Stir frying the sauce
Stir frying the sauce
Sautéing cabbage, pork and shrimp for the noodles.
Topping the noodles
Topping the noodles
The sauce soaks into the crevices of the noodles, softening them in the process.
Slow Cooked Lion's Head Meatball
Slow Cooked Lion's Head Meatball
This softball-sized pork meatball takes two hours to cook. In that time, it's deep fried, steamed, braised, then finally served in a crock with bok choy and bamboo shoots along with the soy sauce-based braising liquid.
Dumpling-making
Dumpling-making
Downstairs, dough is rolled out for dumplings.
Stuffing soup dumplings
Stuffing soup dumplings
Seasoned ground pork is blended with small chunks of chilled gelatinous broth and stuffed into the dumpling wrapper.
A wrapped soup dumpling
A wrapped soup dumpling
Ready for the steamer
Ready for the steamer
In addition to the regular pork soup dumplings, China Blue serves another variety, filled with a blend of pork and crab meat. These are ready to go in the steamer. The heat of the steam will melt the gelatinous broth down into a slurpable soup.
Steaming baskets
Steaming baskets
Finishing shumai
Finishing shumai
More dumplings: these pork shumai get a final touch with a green pea on top.
Shanghai Shumai
Shanghai Shumai
Stuffed with sticky rice and Chinese sausage.