Old Jesse 老吉士酒家

As you step into the perpetually crowded dining room, you feel as if you’ve come across a rowdy scene between locals, and expats. Here, expect a loud dining scene, filled with laughs, chopsticks tapping against the porcelain dishes. Located on a quaint street, it’s small, hot and crowded unless you can nab a table upstairs in the cooler air.

The “old” Jesse restaurant is the best so far out of all “new” Jesse restaurants that appear in all corners of Shanghai. The original, called Xin JiShi is unfussy, serving delicious Shanghainese staple food such as braised pork belly with tofu, braised fish head in fried spring onions among others.

To start:

Pickled vegetables

Typical peanuts

My favorite dish in general where the best is made here – plunge into glistening piles of stewed pork fat (hong shao rou) and forget everything you once learned about fatty meat.

Comes with tofu as well (tied in a knot)

Hong shao, or red-cooking, is a popular way to prepare meats in the Shanghai region of eastern China. Simmering in dark soy sauce gives the meat a reddish color and the dish its name. Red-cooked dishes often include a mix of meat and vegetables and are similar to a western stew. The sauce produced during hong shao cooking is sometimes reserved and used again and again, improving in flavor with each use.

Fried back of eel with shelled shrimp

Deep fried chicken wing and prawn in Chili

Stir fried rice cakes  (炒年糕)with vegetables – reminds me of my childhood, eating it with minced pork!

Reservations here are absolutely necessary but lunchtime is easily accessible to passerbys. The decor is minimal and simple. You don’t come here to ooh and aah on plush surroundings, you come here for the food.

If you’ve only got time for 1 Shanghainese restaurant, this should be your first and only.

Old Jesse

41 Tianping Lu, near Huaihai Xi Lu
天平路41号,近淮海西路

Tel: 6282 9260

Subway: Xintiandi

Website: www.xinjishi.com

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