Ask a Shanghainese person for the best běnbāng, or local, restaurant in town, and you’ll probably be pointed toward Old Jesse. The doyenne of haipai cuisine, this ramshackle restaurant is the darling of the guidebook industry, with mentions in publications from Travel + Leisure to Lonely Planet, but that doesn’t mean that it’s foreigner-friendly. In fact, when LP first published their listing back in 2008, Old Jesse stopped taking reservations in English for some time, just to spite the hordes of tourists vying for a seat in their tiny former French Concession establishment. Even now, the lingua franca in the packed dining room is Shanghainese, and it’s still not uncommon for a laowai’s reservations to disappear if he or she is just a few minutes late, or for foreigners to have to watch hungrily as the dishes they ordered come out to tables manned by locals first, even though said locals were seated long after them.
One of our Shanghai food tour guides put together a pictorial ordering guide for some of our valued foodie guests. It’s great for the Mandarin-disinclined, although there is English on the menu, so don’t fret too much about going! Just be sure to have someone help you make a reservation well in advance!
1. Baiyebao （It has ground chicken or pork wrapped in tofu skin). It is a light dish and served as an appetizer).
2. Xintailuan (literal translation is “the heart is too soft) it is glutinous rice stuffed in a date.
Xianji (salted chicken) this is served cold and can also be eaten as both an appetizer or main.
Doumiao, sauteed pea tips, the tender shoots of a pea sprout. YUM!
Hexia, freshwater shrimp sautéed lightly and will pair with vinegar.
Hongshaorou, is a very popular Shanghai dish comprised of pork belly and soy sauce with hard boiled eggs. Must try Shanghai dish.
Caotou, a typical Chinese greens dish, made with a little bit of alcohol, regional dish.
Scallion oil noodles – a good way to round out the main dishes
After lunch (or before dinner) you can meander up Wukang Road to look at some of the old beautiful houses and architecture there as well as a free little museum that gives you a little history of the buildings on that road. Before you cross Huai Hai Road, there’s anapartment building that is that you’ll see that is very iconic building designed by Hudec architect. Here’s the wiki link. Definitely check it out!