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Sichuan Citizen

Feb 19, 2009
by Oliver Greene

Area: The latest restaurant to move into Donghu Lu restaurant killer row, Sichuan Citizen assumes the location of an erstwhile Korean restaurant. Or was it a Japanese place? It's tough to remember more than two weeks into the past in Shanghai.

Tell your cab driver Donghu Lu, near Huaihai Lu and get out about 40 feet before you hit Huaihai (coming from the north). Sichuan Citizen is right next to the diage creative house (and el Willy's), pretty good all-you-can-eat Japanese restaurant Shirokiya, and the new Face Bar expansion. Other notable landmarks in the area are Boonna, Constellation, Icon X, The Source, and Des Lys (all of these on nearby Xinle and Changle Lu's).

What is it: Sichuan Citizen is the Sichanese restaurant/ cocktail bar/ tea house expansion of the popular Citizen Cafe. Quiet, serene, and unassuming when looking from the outside in, entrance into the restaurant reveals a massive dining space, and the eating area stretches out into the back and onto a second floor. They can seat anything from intimate parties of two to sprawling parties of ten or more. Private room on the second floor as well.

A sizeable Sichuanese menu accompanies this sizeable restaurant, and they offer everything from simple "twice-cooked" stir fry and diced dishes, to steamed dishes, to a full page of vegetarian fare, to Sichuan-style noodles and soups -- everything from kung pao chicken to spicy pigs heart, tongue, and tripe.

Just for drinks? Catering to both day time and night time business, Sichuan Citizen serves several coffees and teas (including pu er, oolong, and long jin), as well as a fairly well-developed cocktail menu: over 25 cocktail varieties on offer from a "Mao-jito" to a "90 Kuai Martini" to a 151 proof rum "Dragon Bowl."

Atmosphere: Wood, wood, and more wood. Bamboo, of course. Dim lighting and red lanterns galore. Calligraphy up and down the support beams and kitchy, retro Chinese portraiture on the walls.

Think of it this way: if you had never been to China or seen or read much about it, and someone said to you, "think of a typical Chinese tea house/ lounge," Sichuan Citizen is what you would picture. I've already got it on my list of places to bring my next out-of-town visitors.

Impressed with: It's probably one of the most foreigner-friendly Chinese restaurants I've ever been to. I know the phrase "foreigner-friendly Chinese restaurant" usually inspires derision in most people, but sometimes you don't want any surprises with a meal. Screw it, you know? And so I was impressed with the expansiveness of Sichuan Citizen's menu, and it's "Sichuanese Food For Dummies" approach.

Also the cocktail menu looked pretty good. It looks like a nice place for a drink.

Damage: On the kung pao chicken litmus test of pricing, Sichuan Citizen scores at 28rmb. Not bad. Pages and pages of Sichuanese cusines ranging from the 20rmb for cold dishes to the 30rmb-60rmb for two pages of house specialties.

Lunch special with soup, rice, one dish and iced tea is 28rmb-38rmb. Coffee, tea and beer in the 20rmb-30rmb range. Pints of Tsingtao draft for 30rmb. Pretty good.

If you go for dinner with friends, expect to pay under 100rmb depending on how much you drink and how many things you want to try out.

Who's Going: Well, they're casting a really, really big net. I think expats who like Citizen Café would try it out -- the lunch special is fair and looks like its going to be popular with white collars and expats working in the area. It's a nice enough place to have a cocktail in so there's that too, good for an afternoon coffee, and it's very accommodating to big parties of diners. Something for everyone. And it's nice looking, while still being cheap. 'Nuff said.
Opened:
February 2009

Address:
30 Donghu Lu,
near Huaihai Lu

Reservations:
Not necessary,
5404 1235

Hours:
11am - 10.30pm

Cards:
None

Prices:
Lunch Sets: 38-48rmb
Cold Dishes: 20rmb
Mains: 30-60rmb
Drinks: 20-30rmb
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