As far as entrances go, Bo Duo Xin Ji’s is pretty great. It’s hidden down an alley off Nanchang Lu, right behind iAPM (you can also enter from Fuxing Lu). It doesn’t get much more downtown than that, but turning the alley and entering the quiet residence compound for dinner is definitely atmospheric. Would be fun for visiting out-of-towners. Once inside, you’ll go up to a spacious second-floor dining room that is usually busy and usually noisy. It feels lived in, like it would’ve been filled with cigarette smoke just a few years back. Clientele skews older and local.
The food itself isn’t quite as impressive. It’s one of those old-school joints with a massive picture menu, hundreds of dishes that make it difficult to pick out the highlights. The roast meats – duck and pork - are a safe bet, as are the cold chicken dishes. Anything that looks like it has green leaves and was sautéed with shrimp sauce will be good. The stir-fried cauliflower that you’ll find at places across the spectrum of Chinese cuisine is here livened up with dried shrimp and tiny chunks of crispy pork fat, which is kind of genius.
If you’re looking for refined and delicate Cantonese, though, this isn’t it. It’s oily, heavy, and the vast menu is a bit hit-and-miss. It’s not bad by any means – I’ve gone plenty of times, by choice – but you’re going more for the vibe and you want to make sure you order the right stuff. On my last visit we ordered an intriguing-sounding fish skin dish, and that… wasn’t cool. The ideal scenario would probably be with a fairly big group of adventurous eaters, so that there’s room for error. Couples that know their way around a menu will have a good time too.
Still, walking down the alley, up into the bustling dining room upstairs, definitely has the potential to be a great start to an evening.
Price: RMB 100 – RMB 200 per person
Summary: Popular old Cantonese restaurant hidden down an alley. The food isn’t as impressive as the journey there – it might be a bit oily for some – but you’ll find a large menu with a few highlights, and you could find worse spots for impressing an open-minded visitor. Good for groups.
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