Folkjar is a restaurant chain (Chinese name Shan Jian Tang / 山间堂) that focuses on the dishes and soups of Jiangxi province. This is a cuisine that doesn’t get that much love in Shanghai – it’s not one of the “eight greats”. So, for the uninitiated, it’s known for spiciness and fermented funkiness, not totally dissimilar from the cuisine of neighboring Hunan. They’re also known for their “Nanchang Jar” meat soups, which are the specialty here.
This is perfect winter food. We went for one big jar of soup and three dishes, which all turned out to be great supporting players; meltingly tender eggplant and long beans, fried tofu laced with chili in a rich gravy-like sauce, and slippery fried noodles. It’s all pleasantly rich and pungent, packing some unique flavors. It was also too much food for less than RMB 100 per head.
That soup though. Their large bowl of bamboo and duck soup might taste a little flat at first, but stick with it and you’ll be rewarded by a broth that gets richer and richer the deeper you go, collecting more and more tiny pieces of duck meat and rendered fat. They aren’t stingy with the meat either, offering plenty of hefty chunks. Like real, boneless chunks. Jiangxi is still on my list of places to visit, so I can’t really speak to the authenticity here, but these bowls pack a whole lot of comforting warmth and a whole lot of flavor.
Being a chain, you do get that vaguely corporate vibe; low on the atmosphere and overly cutesy, pretty high on good service and professionalism. Serviceable; fine. And yet, by making something as simple and unvarnished as a hearty duck soup that’ll keep you warm for hours afterward, they’ve managed something pretty homey. Visit while it’s still cold out.
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