Every few days our team will scour Shanghai’s dining scene for scrumptious dishes that’ll fill your belly without emptying your savings. Not to discriminate, we’ll search everywhere from bicycle carts to chic venues with twenty-course tasting menus, knowing that any spot could have the next Dish of the Day.
Amidst too many Shanghai dives offering an overpriced array of dismal seafood – flaccid geoduck clams, that grouper that’s been captive so long it’s sprouting a beard – there stands a beacon of hope: the Tongchuan Road Seafood Market. Journey here and save cash on squirtingly-fresh bivalves, rainbow-hued lobsters, and perhaps the best bang for your buck, mantis shrimp.
This stomatopod, which looks like the lovechild of a praying mantis and a shrimp (naturally), can be bought at almost any vendor for around 30RMB per jin, though you can bargain it down to 20 (a fifth of what you might spend at a normal seafood spot). Just select the number you want, make sure the shrimp are feisty, and haul your quarry to a nearby restaurant. We picked Yunzhong Restaurant, where chose to have our crustaceans boiled for maximum juiciness (15RMB).
We won’t lie, the mantis shrimp is a tough bastard to peel with a shell as hard as a lobster’s hull and groves of spikes that will grate your hand if you’re not careful. Often times, we give up stripping its carapace, and use our teeth to squeeze the tail meat out like the liquid remains of a freezer pop.
But once you do breach the shell, you’ll find purple flesh sweeter than any prawn, and gushing sea juice. If you’re lucky, some of your shrimp may even have an amber vein of roe running through their middle, denoted on live ones by an orange dot on the flip-side of their last tail segment.
High-tail it down to Tongchuan Lu and dig in.
Yunzhong Restaurant – 455 Lanxi Lu, near Tongchuan Lu (兰溪路455号, 近铜川路). Hours: 11am-10pm daily. Closest Metro Stop: Zhenru (真如) Line 11.
Last time on Dish of the Day: Mangosteen @ any fruit stand
See a complete list of our Dish of the Day series here.
Have a recommendation for Dish of the Day? Let Shanghaiist’s food editor Benjamin Cost know at [email protected]!