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.
Some associate Shanghai with xiaolongbao, others with hairy crab, but for me, nothing screams Shanghai like a mountainous braised pork shoulder gleaming with glaze and fat. Simmered in dark soy sauce, Shaoxing rice wine, rock sugar, and star anise for hours until tender, Shanghai pork shoulder (hongshao tipang) is the ultimate in melt-in-your-mouth eating, fall-off-the-bone eating.
Pork shoulder purveyors in Shanghai range from street hawkers in Qibao to Shanghai Jesse Restaurant, where you must order your tipang over the phone hours in advance (on top of the regular reservation which you have to book several days ahead of time). But for a quicker, just as tasty tipang, there’s Shanghai standby, Rui Fu Yuan, which we covered in our Dish of the Day on pork-stuffed snails a couple months back before realizing we should’ve chosen the pork shoulder instead – as good as the snails are.
Rui Fu Yuan’s braised pork shoulder doesn’t have a pic on the menu so you if you can’t read Chinese, just tell them you want the hong shao tipang. You’ll have to wait at least an hour for for them to simmer the pork until it’s topple-off-the-bone tender. It’s worth the wait. Their shoulder entails a promontory of meat and fat rising up from a pond of marinade so sugary and yet so non-cloying. You gouge the meat mountain with a chopstick and the rind that wraps around the meat like a fatty shoulder harness caves in like custard. Squish a morsel of meat with a morsel of fat between your chopsticks and chomp. You can keep those little kiddie blocks of hong shao rou, this is the big leagues.
To guarantee a spot at Rui Fu Yuan, either arrive at lunch time between 11 and 2pm or 5pm sharp for dinner.
Rui Fu Yuan – 132 Maoming Nan Lu, near Fuxing Zhong Lu (茂名南路132号乙, 近复兴中路). Tel: (0)21-6445-8999. Hours: 11am-2pm, 5pm-9:30pm.
Last time on Dish of the Day: Lamb chops @ Ye Li Xia Li
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]!