Fans of China’s roaring 50’s and all its rosy cheeked proletariat propaganda may want to take a trip down to Shanghai Stadium to try 9 Che Jian (9车间). One of several restaurants that wrap around the rear of the stadium, this Sichuanese establishment decks itself out as a 1950’s era Chinese factory; the name che jian itself refers to a factory’s internal segmented workshops. The place is quite a sight; huge windows stretch from its floor its very high ceiling, from which thick beams and industrial lights dangle. The wait staff wear factory overalls, socialist slogans pepper the walls (there’s nothing like the words “unity is strength” to spur the appetite), and propaganda ditties blare incessantly from the overhead speakers. Oh, and a large statue of the esteemed Chairman Mao casts a serene look over all.
Ok, so they have the theme down pat. The dishes are another story. The chili oil chicken is more garlic than spice (and chicken for that matter). Garlic, in fact, is the dominant ingredient, overpowering the already sparse amount of peppercorns in the shui zhu fish (水煮鱼) and the dan dan noodles (担担面). We like our Sichuan food to be numbingly spicy, not oddly stinky. The dou hua (豆花) with beef was good, but more like a stew than the fragile soybean chunks that we typically enjoy. Judging by the crowd, however, 9 Che Jian’s gimmickry apparently rises above the mediocrity of the food. Take your tourist friends who are wary of spicy Sichuanese but find pleasure in propaganda tackiness; otherwise, keep this place well buried down your list of worthy eats.
9 Che Jian – No. 666 Tianyaoqiao Lu, the rear entrance of Shanghai Stadium (9车间川香工坊 – 天钥桥路666号八万人体育场2号通道旁. Tel: 6426-6767. Price: around 100 RMB a person.
Eric Hu is Shanghaiist’s Food Editor. Email tips, recommendations, and news and gossip about Shanghai’s food scene to food at shanghaiist.com.