Xing Yuan Yuan is a Shanghainese-focused Chinese join on the corner of Panyu and Fahuazhen Lu. It’s nicely decked out with classical Chinese illustrations on the wall which belies its very friendly pricing, but don’t get it twisted – this isn’t really an upmarket place. Rather it’s a classic, at times rowdy neighborhood-favorite kind of place. Its usually busy, portions are huge, and you’re looking at roughly RMB 80 each for a dinner for two, likely with leftovers. Solid Dianping ratings.
Last time I went, there was a group of young adults who burst into song not once but twice in baijiu-addled revelry. whether that sounds the kind of thing that to you makes a restaurant seem homely or a nightmare probably tells you whether this is the kind of place you’ll want to hit up.
With so many Chinese restaurants on every street, it can be hard to tell which ones actually merit a visit with a grueling process of trial and error. In this neighborhood, this on is worth trying.
Food: The menu is largely Shanghainese staples with a smattering of Sichuan dishes at the back and a few bougie, eye-wateringly expensive novelty items like turtle soup. That said, it doesn’t feel like it hues particularly close to one province or cuisine, instead offering reliable Chinese standards that make up for a lack of subtlety with a bunch of flavor. It can be hearty, spicy, anf warming in equal measure. Great for groups, too; portions are huge and everyone’s favorite dish will probably be found somewhere.
Highlights include round ‘cups’ of bread served around a bowl of pickles, which you fill them up with. Oily, spicy, and endlessly satisfying. Others are the simple “beef pot”, hunks of tender beef served in a boiling soup with cabbage and glass noodles, soup of real, funky tofu and aged Chinese ham, and of course hongshao rou. It’s the kind of place that won’t have you seeing fireworks but more than does the job if you’re in the neighborhood. I live nearby, and it’s a regular.
Service: Service is just fine. Staff are often busy, but they’ll keep you topped up with hot water and never seem to forget a dish or mess any orders up. Can’t really ask for more than that when you’re paying less than a hundred per person.
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