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.
Bai zhan ji (白斬雞) literally translates to “boiled and cut chicken,” which is how the dish is prepared – specifically boiled, chilled, chopped, brushed with sesame oil and preferably served at room temperature with a soy-scallion-ginger or similar dip. It’s the ideal dish to satisfy your meat lust while also keeping you cool in this sultry summer heat.
You can find the pale delicacy everywhere from wet market stalls to upper-crust dining halls, but we prefer Xiao Shaoxing, arguably the city’s most famous bai zhan ji haunt. The restaurant’s divided into an upstairs and downstairs, both serving up bai zhan ji, but in drastically different environments.
The third floor entails a low-key banquet hall with cloth-covered round tables and uniformed fuwuyuans….and the ground floor is a bit grittier. You take a number from a lady who’s gruffness makes a parole officer look like a Disneyland cast member, pick your order up at the window to the left, sit down at a cafeteria table with total strangers, and bury your head in your plate until the fowl’s completely skeletonized. The chicken’s also “cheeper” (20RMB for a one person portion, 39RMB portion for two people, plus a couple yuan to eat it there).
Xiao Shaoxing’s bai zhan ji sales actually suffered a big hit a couple months due to people boycotting the dish in the midst of the bird flu epidemic. However, one bai zhan ji stalwart, surnamed Wang, couldn’t be dissuaded. “My daughter says I am committing suicide,” Wang said. “But I really enjoy a dinner of chicken and rice wine and I won’t be giving it up easily.” After experiencing the tenderness of Xiao Shaoxing’s bai zhan ji, I’d have to say I hear ya, Mr. Wang.
Xiao Shaoxing – 118 Yunnan Nan Lu, near Jingling Dong Lu (云南南路118号, 近金陵东路). Tel: (021-6326-0845. Hours: 10am-10pm first floor, 10:45am-9pm third floor.
Last time on Dish of the Day: Nanjing salted duck @ Xiao Jing Ling
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]!