There is something perverse about ordering lion’s head meatballs at Shanghai Social Club. The Chinese-themed nightspot, which opened this summer, is located within chopsticks’ distance of longtime Chinese restaurant Shanghai Gate, where these pork meatballs are a specialty. In the matter of this dish, there is no contest. Shanghai Gate’s lion’s head reigns supreme.
Shanghai Social Club’s version is hit-or-miss. One night, in a bowl of soup with noodles, the meatballs are dense as matzo balls at a bad diner. On another visit, they are great, served folded into puffy white steamed buns with bok choy to make spicy, satisfying little sandwiches. But that’s not the point. Shanghai Gate is about the meal. Shanghai Social Club is about the night out. Full story for BostonGlobe.com subscribers.