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.
Entering the small ally around IAPM mall and through the old Shanghai houses, you'll find the three floors Cantonese restaurant packed with people waiting to get a table. The restaurant is fairly popular, so you’ll want to book ahead before coming.
I came with 8 other colleagues and got a private room, which can fit in more than 10 people. Note that it was a hassle to get a table and the staff were everywhere, but it will be a good place to bring in a big group of friends since the portion is pretty fulfilling.
Starting with the signature dish from the restaurant, the ginger chicken is definitely filled with flavor but like most dishes here, it’s on the oily side. Vegetable like pan-fried green beans and Kai-lan taste good, but like every other Cantonese restaurant can offer. The beef with soy sauce is also better elsewhere if comparing to what I had before. Someone ordered a sweet dish that’s fried taro covered with sugar. It’s something new to me and taste good when serving hot; crispy on the outside and soft in the middle. I’ll never leave a Cantonese restaurant without a bao zai fan so I got the classic one with lap chang, but yet again not too impressed with the dish. The only thing is that it’s probably one of the biggest portion of bao zai fan I ever got here. We paid around 70 RMB each, which is very cheap for what it offers.
I can see why the restaurant comes with a lot of fame, the old Shanghai alley is very unique and easy to impress, food is above average and the serving is enough to fulfill a table of people. While I don’t really feel the ambiance since it’s a bit messy, I’ll prefer to go somewhere less crowded and comfortable to be in.
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