Shanghai Lu Yang Cun Restaurant
The cuisine of Shanghai is commonly described as being rich and oily, with a lot of heavy brown sauces. There's a grain of truth to this, as to any generalization, but the whole picture is much more nuanced. Xiao long bao deserves its fame (commonly called soup dumplings in the west) and we owe this pitch perfect dish to Shanghai. The dough on these should be refreshingly light, although the stew inside isn't always. Also light in texture, if not in falvor, are the famous drunken dishes, made by immersing cooked meat (chicken is the most popular) in rice wine and seasoning generously for upwards of twenty-four hours.
At Shanghai Lu Yang Cun Restaurant, we recommend you get started with several cold dishes, chosen for their mix of flavors and textures. Variety is the aim here. Drunken chicken, pressed-spice beef, mashed soybeans with sesame oil, bean curd with fresh soybeans, preserved vegetables and jellied ham terrine all come to mind.
Then you'll want to proceed to main courses. The tiny river shrimp here are delicious, cooked in tea leaves. Braised pork shoulders are also exceptional and prepared with care, as are the lion's head meatballs (so named because the pork meatballs are cooked with Chinese cabbage leaves, which are said to resemble a lion's mane) and stir-fried rice cakes. If you're lucky enough to be here in winter, be sure to try one of the hairy crab dishes, famously native to Shanghai. The crustaceans, eaten primarily for their rich roe, are either steamed and served whole with brown vinegar and ginger slivers, or the meat and roe are taken from the shell, separated and served with noodles, bean curd or rice. Be warned - Shanghai hairy crab comes with a price tag.
Price: About HK$300 (around £24) per person (much more expensive if you order hairy crab)