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  • Atmosphere: Jinxian Lu, a really pleasant little street that runs just one block between South Shaanxi and x, is home to a few high-quality cocktail bars and a few very old, popular hole-in-the-wall Shanghainese spots, each a few doors down from each other. On a recent visit one had numerous groups waiting outside on plastic stools and promised a wait of an hour or more; one had a boss so grumpy that her insistence and what we should and shouldn’t order and where we should and shouldn’t sit drove us from the restaurant. Jin Yuan was the happy medium we settled for, and it proved to be a good choice. It's an old hole in the wall Shanghainese spot slinging homey versions of some of the classics of the cuisine, that feels like it would be good for small groups and more intimate dinners. 

    Food: The place itself is tiny with four or five tables only, and feels lived in, and that jibes nicely with the very rustic style of cooking – this is Shanghainese food that, though definitely decent, has that home-cooked feel. Highlights were a battered deep-fried fish, crisp without being heavy and sparingly seasoned with a typically Shanghainese sweet, light sauce and excellent jiu xiang cao kou, a ball of tiny green leaves cooked with alcohol that is fresh, crisp and light. They also do a pretty killer hongshao rou. They have menus in Chinese, English and Japanese, and prices are low. Rather than a cult favorite or must-visit, Jin Yuan is more of a pleasant go-to. Cheap, tasty and filling, it’s a solid option for a satisfying no-frills dinner whenever you’re in this part of town.

    Service: Jin Yuan is very much a no-frilles kind of place, and service can be brusque, but it's friendly and attentive enough. It might not be five star treatment, but the manager will give you recommendations and keep your cup topped up with hot water. Plus, the place is so small that you won't struggle to get anyone's attention. 

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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.