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.
By now, you’re probably tired of hearing food writers climax to Shanghai Jesse Restaurant. However, unlike with a lot of other eateries, there’s a reason for the worship. For us, that reason is the hongshao rou or red-braised pork belly, one of the best versions of the dish in the city.
It might surprise you that despite being the epicenter of red-braising, Shanghai is riddled with crappy hongshao rou. Some renditions feature Grade A pork but an asphyxiatingly sweet sauce while others have a balanced glaze but gristly pork cubes whose fat chews like undercooked tendon.
Not only is Jesse’s pork top-of-the-line but the sauce is the perfect convergence of sweet and a little bit of sour. Nothing feels artificially candied. It’s as if the pig naturally exuded the sauce from its pores before it was slaughtered. Tiny cubes of cuttlefish keep the pork from overwhelming the palate.
And be warned, this pork is damn succulent with thick, alternating layers of fat and meat. Stick candles in it and you’d have my dream birthday cake.
Jesse Restaurant – 41 Tianping Lu, near Huaihai Xi Lu (天平路41号, 近淮海西路). Tel: (0)21-6282-9260.
Last time on Dish of the Day: Roast goose @ Hengshan Cafe
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]!