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.
If Guo Yuan perfected the Hunan double pepper fish head then Yumen Kezhan nailed the Sichuan-style roast catfish (38RMB per jin). Yumen’s version is a River Monsters-sized beast strewn with your choice of chilies (pick the paojiao or pickled chilies), splayed open and roasted in a metal tub over coals until the skin’s charred.
Every element is done immaculately. The meat’s oily but not greasy, the skin’s crispy but also robed with lush fat, the pickled chilies are numerous but not to the point that you need a rake to find your fish, and there’s a spectrum of textures: some morsels shred easily while others melt like pudding. The fish is also meaty enough so you can gobble large hunks without having to spatter your plate with tiny bones afterward.
Mind you, this isn’t a dainty fish filet, so crack open that hull-like skull and slurp the jelly. Bring at least two other people for this feast as the smallest catfish is still around 3 jin.
Yumen Kezhan – 460 Changde Lu, near Xinzha Lu, Jingan district (静安区常德路460号, 近新闸路). Tel: (0)21-6289-5106. Hours: 10am-10pm daily.
Last time on Dish of the Day: Pine nut spare ribs @ Shanghai Uncle
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]!