There’s a saying in foodie circles that goes, “the worse the service, the better the food.” This saying has never rang more true than when I stepped into Linglong Restaurant（玲珑餐馆）, because you see, the logic goes that if the food is really “that” good, then people would come back no matter how bad the quality of service, thus the owners no longer need to try and “please” their customers.
This restaurant was highly recommended by a friend who states this is simply one of the best places for local Shanghai cuisine, despite its 3 star rating on Dianping (mainly due to service complaints but that doesn’t stop the crowds from coming in). Like many hole in the wall restaurants, this place isn’t able to fit many seats so people are expected to eat quick and leave. If you hover during busy rush hours, you might even get a scolding from the owner with the notorious bad temper.
Knowing all this, I was pretty prepared for extremely bad service, but was pleasantly surprised to find that we came right after the lunch rush hour (after 1:30p.m.) and there was no one inside except for us. Even so, the owner took no time to rush me in menu selection, and kept recommending what he called the “typical three dishes (老三样)“， which were the bean curd marinated spinach, the yellow croaker marinated in braised tofu, and the tomato potato soup. We opted for the first two, but decided to switch out the soup for the specialty braised pork, as that’s a famous Shanghai specialty.
The wait was short and my oh my, the food did not disappoint! The bean curd marinated spinach and the yellow croaker were both dishes that will leave you craving for months. Never have I tasted dishes where margination were done to such perfection: the spinach was soaked in flavors of the marinated red tofu, and the braised tofu in the other dish had completely mixed with the delicious fish tastes of the yellow croaker. The red braised tofu was a bit too sweet for my liking, but I guess that’s just Shanghai cuisine for ya.
As we ate, we noticed many of the people that came in were old-timers, and did not hesitate to let the owners know that they wanted the “typical three dishes.” Overall the bill came out to be around 90 rmb/person, which is quite expensive for a joint like this but I would not hesitate to come back. I give this place 5 stars despite the service because it really is “that” good.
On the side note, because they are so popular, apparently there’s a minimal expenditure of 150 rmb/ table, so I wouldn’t recommend coming to this restaurant solo.
SmartReviews is SmartShanghai’s crack squad of amateur reviewers, eating their way around the city and writing about it. They have been chosen from a large pool of applicants and given a set of strict guidelines to follow to make sure their reviews are honest, informed and fair to both potential customers and the restaurants themselves.