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.
We normally wouldn’t do two Sichuan dishes in a row as we covered the fu qi fei pian at Ba Guo Bu Yi last week, but we’ll make an exception for the best Sichuan restaurant in town. Hopefully my ulcer will as well.
Yuxin Chuan Cai is one of those places where you could throw a dart at the menu while blindfolded and hit a potential Dish of the Day. The saliva chicken is great, the tea-smoked duck is great, the yuxiang (fragrant fish) with peppers is great – basically, this is just a sneaky way of professing our love for Yuxin.
We chose mapo tofu (15RMB), because coming from the US, where tofu is synonymous with mock burgers, vegan chili, wearing shoes made from hemp and discarded styrofoam etc., it’s nice to see it done right.
Yuxin’s mapo tofu is a lake of lava-red stock roiling with tofu blocks, black beans, veg, ground pork, and of course, chili paste. The sauce masterfully balances searing heat with the piney fragrance of the Sichuan peppercorns, and leaves room for that oily savoriness we all love.
The sauce is so savory, in fact, that after you’ve finished off the tofu, you’ll find yourself lathering it over whatever else is on the table, and even spooning it up like soup; which will inevitably lead to a volcanic eruption in the bathroom later, but it’ll be worth it.
Yuxin Chuan Cai – 3/F, Zhaoshangju Square, 333 Chengdu Bei Lu, near Weihai Lu (成都路333号招商局广场3楼, 近威海路). Tel: (0)21-5298-0438. Hours: Lunch 11am-2pm, dinner 5pm-9:30pm, daily.
Last time on Dish of the Day: Fu qi fei pian (beef tongue, heart, and tripe) @ Ba Guo Bu Yi
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]!