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.
Your first meal at a wet market food street is often an unsatisfying one because you attempt to try everything without realizing that seemingly light foods such as you tiao are like gold bars by the time they hit your stomach. You make it through one you tiao, a cong you bing, and half a rou bao before leaving the market full, but unfulfilled. As veteran wet market rampagers, we’re telling you to ditch the buffet mentality, and go for one really tasty item – in this case, small roast chicken (xiao ji).
The roast chickens of which we speak are portly little brown birds the size of squabs that are usually sold side by side with roast ducks (not to be confused with bai zhan ji). Vendors only sell them whole (around 18RMB), not in halves or quarters, but seeing as one’s small enough to fit in your pocket, you shouldn’t have any trouble inhaling this sucker. After you order, the fowl-monger will chop the chicken into manageable hunks and pack it in a styrofoam vessel.
Now we’re aware that eating chicken while sitting on a phlegm-encrusted stoop next to a neglected trash mountain doesn’t exactly bring you back to Friday roast night at your mom’s. But then again these chickens aren’t cooked to the point of fossilization either. Instead, their flavor evokes your typical organic farm clucker if it was gamier, less flabby, and had skin that almost perspired delicious grease.
The best time to buy these chickens is around 7-9am when they’re fresh off the roaster. If you live in near Xujiahui there’s a chicken spot at 115 Leshan Lu, near Guangyuan Xi Lu at the front of the Xuhui wet market.
Chicken stand – 115 Leshan Lu, near Guangyuan Xi Lu (乐山路115号, 近广元西路). Hours: 7am-7pm daily.
Last time on Dish of the Day: Cong you rou si ban mian (pork and scallion noodles) @ Lao Difang
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]!