suzyd_ on 407 Zhaojiabang Lu, near Damuqiao Lu 6403 0731 Ren He Guan Price per Person: 150 Rmb
Atmosphere: Busy. Here's the deal:
You go in through the green-framed glass doors to the crowded little entrance lobby, where you can get a ticket from a greeter (unless you've booked). Then you wait. In our case, you wait and wait and wait. To be fair, we came at a busy time, but we were only a group of three.
Once you're in, things are much calmer. The whole place is decked out like a swanky hotel from... some time in the twentieth century? I found it hard to put a finger on a definition for the decor, but it feels like a very salubrious place to sit and eat your well-plated Shanghainese food.
It's an excellent option for out-of-towners if Old Jesse is booked up or not smart enough for your needs, and if Moose is too expensive.
Food: On that note, the food is a very safe way to experience Shanghainese cuisine. There are some pictures on the menu, and some English translations. If you don't speak [much] Chinese, though, I'd recommend scrolling through the pictures on Dianping and just pointing at what you want.
The most famous dish here is probably the hongshaorou, which is purportedly among the city's best iterations. Unfortunately, it's so popular that it had sold out when we visited. Everything else we had was very well-executed, though.
Highlights for me were the black noodles, apparently made using a type of fern. The tofu with crab was also good; here, it comes topped with little crunchy nubbins of crisped rice. I felt like it was heavier on the tofu (and, sadly, lighter on the crab) than the Old Jesse version - a famous dish like this is bound to face comparisons with competitors - but I really enjoyed it.
We also ordered rice with fatty chunks of sausage, the classic "eight treasures" in its gloopy sauce, a very rich soup with offal and pork belly, and some vegatable dishes. In general, the food felt lighter and fresher than at most of the other Shanghainese places I've visited. The only thing that wasn't great was the fish in sweet and sour sauce. It felt over-cooked and mushy. The sauce was still decent, though.
Service: Service was very good; you'll need to wait if you haven't booked a table, but the staff are great once you get inside. Our waitress patiently talked us through certain dishes, alerted us to the fact that we'd ordered two tofu dishes, and gave us a good tea recommendation.
Do note that most staff don't speak English. As I mentioned earlier, Dianping pictures are your friends here (if you haven't chosen to visit with anyone who speaks Chinese).
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.