Apo’s Seafood in Jing’an takes Cantonese classics and puts them in a Western cafe setting. The decor was so non-Cantonese that I passed the place several times before realizing that that Indie Manhattan coffee shop on the corner was in fact, a Cantonese seafood restaurant. Fortunately, the fusion element doesn’t apply to the food, which entails all your Guangdong favorites for a lot cheaper than at most of Shanghai’s Cantonese digs.
As far from the typical Shanghai Cantonese restaurant as you can imagine. White-linen round-tables, Lazy Susans, ear-pieced waiters, and shimmering banquet halls make way for plain white counter tops, lounge chairs, shelves with books and basketball shoes, and servers donning black tees with the restaurant’s name on the front. “The Next Episode” by Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre barks in the background.
The traditional espansive Cantonese menu with Nat Geo resolution pics is replaced by a brown menu card split into different sections such as congee, fried rice, roast seafood. Everything is traditional Cantonese save for the potted organic cauliflower in Marmite (RMB 38), roast salmon head (45RMB), and the cheese dip option for the roast seafood.
The roast seafood options are mouthwatering. Head up the roast prawns (39RMB) with five spice powder, chili, salt, scallion and cilantro, and the scallops topped your choice of roast garlic, XO sauce, black beans, and cheese dressings. These are the only somewhat pricey items at 15RMB each, but we’ll pay more for a bivalve that’s not a hepatitis petri dish like on the street. And the flavor reminded us of a stick of butter merged with flounder.
The piece de resistance is steamed fish with peppers, soy, and vinegar. It’s your standard flaky, buttery, savory affair but for 45RMB, 50% cheaper than at your average Shanghai seafood spot. Beware the bones though, as they can spear your gums like calcified sewing needles.
Those not up the for dissecting a whole fish should go for the poached chicken with canton ginger (48RMB), or fried barbecue pork in egg and honey (RMB 35).
Apo’s Seafood updates the standard Shanghai Cantonese restaurant without sacrificing the flavors that made it great in the first place. And it’s damn cheap.
Apo’s Seafood – 641 Weihai Lu, near Maoming Bei Lu (威海路641号, 近茂名北路). Tel: (0)21-5262-0369. Opening hours: 11am-12pm.
See a complete list of our reviews here.
Benjamin Cost is Shanghaiist’s Food Editor. Email tips, recommendations, and news updates on Shanghai’s dining scene to [email protected].