Shanghai Lane

About

I was a bit uncertain about Shanghai Lane as we walked in. The large black and white photos of Old Shanghai, the neat soy sauce pots on each table, and the smartly uniformed waiters all felt very packaged. I imagined other identical restaurants being set up by the company across the city and feared the food would taste equally indistinct. Overall though, while not that remarkable, the restaurant offered solid Shanghai food at lower prices.

The ‘braised pork belly with bean curd knots’ (HK$50) had fatty cubes of meat that were pleasingly tender, but didn’t melt sumptuously in your mouth like the best braised pork can. The meat was soaked in a sauce which felt a little thin, potent with Chinese rice wine but lacking more subtle flavours. In comparison the dark sauce of Xiao Nan Guo’s ‘red braised pork’ is thicker and loaded with hints of liquorish and cinnamon that it has absorbed through the long cooking process and make it really exciting to eat. The dish is twice the price at Xiao Nan Guo, but I’d probably rather pay the extra for these more stimulating flavours that really enhance the meat.

I was hesitant to pay HK$68 for fried noodles when some you can get them for half the price elsewhere. Shanghai Lane’s ‘fried noodles with shrimp, chicken and ham’ warranted the higher price though, reminding me more of pasta dishes in finer Italian restaurants than the oily ‘chau mihn’ of a lot of local cha chaan tengs. The noodles were just lightly brushed with oil, which enhanced rather than smothered their own fresh, slightly floury taste. The shrimp and chicken had also been handled delicately so the frying just lightly cooked them and brought out the strong seafood and tender white meats flavours. Together the noodles and shrimp offered really soft, yet enticing tones that were very enjoyable.

The siu lung bau (dumplings with pork and soup inside) followed the trend of being good whilst not really blowing me away. The dumpling wrapper was thin and tasted fairly freshly made, free from that chewy, micro-waved texture that often marks cheap dumplings. But the wrapper still didn’t have the homemade texture of the best dumplings, and the soup inside was a little bland, lacking those soothing brothy flavours which explode out of the best siu lung bao. Again, Xia Nan Guo offers better dumplings, as do many of the higher end dim sum places in Hong Kong.

If you’re hungry and looking for decent Shanghai food at a low price then Shanghai Lane is definitely worth a visit. Some of the more special braised dishes like the ‘sea cucumber’ or ‘pigs trotter’ might also offer something a bit more special, though I’m yet to try these. If you want more stimulating Shanghai food though, it’s probably worth paying a little bit more to head over to Xiao Nan Guo or somewhere else.

Directions

35-37 Gough Street, Central, Hong Kong Tel: 2850 7788

Notes

Open from 11:30 a.m. until 11 p.m.

Cost

Around HK$50 a dish, Dumplings HK$15-35 with some ‘chef’s recommendations’ for up to $200

Xiao Nan Guo

Huhng Siu Yuhk and Sichauan Beef - two of the highlights at Xiao Nan Guo

Huhng Siu Yuhk and Sichauan Beef - two of the highlights at Xiao Nan Guo

 

About 

My favorite Shanghai restaurant in HK and a really outstanding opportunity to try some of China’s most interesting and distinctive dished. Good value, good service, and consistently excellent food. Some of the things to try here include:

  • Huhng siu yuhk – Supposedly Chairman Mao’s favourite dish, this is cubes of pork with alternate layers of meat and fat, slow cooked until the meat is so soft that it melts in your mouth. The meat jusice, wine, sugar and anise  together form this beautifully flavoured thick black sauce which coats the meat and the long, fibrous mushrooms. This dish is a must have.
  • The siu luhng baau here are wonderful. These are dumplings with soft meat, or crap in the centre, surrounded by a soup that is held inside the soft wrapper. When you eat bite into them the warm soup pours through your mouth releasing its flavours. The siu lung bao here are the best I’ve had outside of shanghai, with a very flavoursome soup and nice frail wrapper.
  • The crispy sesame bread pockets and minced pork is another Shanghai specialty. It is very tasty here, with the bread nicely crisp on the outside but still softer on the inside. The meat filling is well cooked so that it isn’t too oily. This dish is definitely worth having, but takes second place to those above.
  • The sichuan beef dish here is excellent – using the same long, fibrous mushrooms as the huhng siu yuk which have a texture that goes well with the meat and the slight spice of the chili’s in this dish. It is brought to you in a little black cauldren and left to cook on the table, so that the ingredients slowly soften and blend with the sauce.
  • The begger´s chicken here is also supposed to be really good, though I’m yet to try it myself. This is chicken cooked by packing it around with earth and baking it slowly. When the dish is brought to the table, the earth is broken open and the chicken taken from inside.

DirectionsWalk along Des Voeux road from the mid-level escalators to Central. The restaurant is in a shopping centre on the left hand side that has lots of mirrored metal. An escalator leads up to the first floor, where there is a Starbucks coffee shop. The restaurant is on the third level. There is a Japanese restaurant on the floor below.

Xiao Nan Guo Cuisine Level 3 Man Yee Building, 68 Des Voeux Road, Central, Hong Kong Central

Cost

Around HK $150-200 per person

Notes

Closes at 11:30pm Tel: 2258 9393

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