With a menu featuring deep fried veggies, braised pork belly and/or ribs, sweet potatoes, crispy fried pig intestine, candied sweet potatoes, and oysters: Lu cai, the food of Shandong province, is China’s soul food. Read on to find our picks for Shanghai’s Best Shandong Cuisine.
As in most areas of China, meat in Shandong specifically means pork. It comes in many delicious forms: red braised, sweet and sour, sausage, fried, in a gelatin, and many others. Shandong is one of the 2 largest beef producing provinces in China. The southwestern portion of the province is also well-known for lamb, so Shandong menus often include soups more associated with Muslim areas of northwestern China or Inner Mongolia. The province is the largest agricultural producer in the country, though, so delicious vegetable dishes also abound.
Located on the east coast between Shanghai and Beijing, Shandong boasts over 2,500 km of coastline (more than Peru or South Africa), so fish and other seafood take a prominent place on the menu. But rather than steaming with ginger and spring onions to compliment the original fish flavor (a la Jiangnan style in the greater Shanghai region), in Shandong you’re going to find fish braised in a sauce strongly-flavored with five spice, deep fried oysters dipped in a salt and pepper mix, or clams flash fried with spicy chili peppers.
It’s one of China’s “4 Great Cuisines”, along with Sichuanese, Huaiyang (Jiangsu), and Cantonese. Those other three cuisines represent flavors from a particular province, while Lu Cai stands in for all of Northern China. Confucius ate it. It’s the basis for the imperial cuisine of the Ming and Qing Dynasty courts. And yet, while Dianping lists over 10,000 Huaiyang restaurants, 6,000 Sichuanese, and 2,600 Cantonese, there is not even a separate section for 鲁菜 with just 136 restaurants listed. You’ll be pleased to know that the updated Dianping app includes “brunch”, however.
Here’s our picks for where to find Shanghai’s best Shandong cuisine, which we believe is a thoroughly underrepresented fare in our city:
老山东 Old Shandong
Pudong address: 6th floor Jinsui Building, 378 S. Pudong Lu, near Dongcheng Lu. Subway: Line 2 – Dongchang Rd.
Tel.: 6886 9778
Puxi address: Room 502, Greenland 5F, 759 M. Longhua Lu, near Dong’an Lu. Subway: Line 7 &12 – M. Longhua Rd.
Tel.: 3363 7718
Dezhou stewed chicken (德州扒鸡), Dézhōu pā jī
Chef’s cabbage (老厨白菜), lǎo chú báicài
Shandong cold braised pork and veggies (山东酥锅), Shāndōng sū guō
Fried radish balls (萝卜丸子), luóbo wánzi
Iron wok braised fish with corn bread (铁锅鱼饼), tiě guō yú bǐng
Hot and sour Chinese yam (醋溜山药), cù liū shānyào
Spicy stir fried clams (辣炒花蛤), là chǎo huā gá
Pork and ribs stewed with thick glass noodles (白菜粉皮炖排骨), báicài fěnpí dùn páigǔ
东莱海上 Donglai Haishang or its sister restaurant 东莱馋房 Donglai Chanfang
东莱海上 Donglai Haishang
Address: 94 M. Fujian Lu, near Guangdong Lu. Subway: Line 2 & 10 – East Nanjing Rd.
Tel.: 6311 5800
东莱馋房 Donglai Chanfang
Address: 4th floor Crystal Galleria, 68 Yuyuan Lu near Changde Lu. Subway: Line 2 & 7 – Jing’an Temple
Tel.: 6288 7717
Homemade pork sausage (香肠), xiāngcháng
“Flavor” eggplant (风味茄子), fēngwèi qiézi – note: the best eggplant in the city
Chef’s cabbage (风味白菜), fēngwèi báicài
Sweet and sour pork (糖醋里脊), táng cù lǐjí
Fried oysters (椒盐蛎黄), jiāoyán lì huáng
Spicy fried octopus (辣炒八抓鱼), là chǎo bā zhuā yú
Egg cockle – a type of shellfish (油淋鸟贝), yóu lín niǎo bèi
Fresh sea urchin (新鲜海胆), xīnxiān hǎidǎn
Ba fish dumplings (鲅鱼水饺), bà yú shuǐjiǎo