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.
For authentic non-Chinese Asian and Chinese food from outside Shanghai, the best places aren’t those sanitized ethnic chains at your local mall-stronsity, but Xianxia Road and its surrounding streets. You’ll find sumptuous sushi, Korean, Taiwanese standbys like Yilan Da Ding Huo Xia, and other ethnic dives patronized by transplants from the actual countries/regions. Our go to is Hei San Niang Sichuan Restaurant.
Modeled after a heidian or mountain bandit fortress, Hei San Niang’s swaying orange lanterns, creaky chairs, and weathered dark wood interior evoke the set of one of those ancient Chinese period soap operas you catch at the gym. This hokeyness fortunately doesn’t apply to the food, which gives Yuxin Chuan Cai a run for its maos with fabulous fu qi fei pian (beef heart, stomach, and tripe), pork intestine in silky dou hua, pork kidneys, and crisp, refreshing cucumber slices in sesame-chili oil for the vegetarians. My fave is their marbled pork with chili oil (蒜泥白肉, suànní báiròu, 39RMB), thin pork belly slices rolled up and arrayed around a molten chili paste mountain like a roulette wheel of fat and spiciness.
Many spots around Shanghai do edible versions of this dish, but Hei San Niang nails it with adequate spiciness and pork so succulent you fear it’ll melt under its searing sheen of chili oil. The temperature is also a perfect room temperature and not cold, despite being a “cold dish.”
Hei San Niang – 515 Anlong Lu, near Xianxia Lu (安龙路515号, 近仙霞路). Tel: (0)21-6242-1177. Hours: 9am-10pm.
Last time on Dish of the Day: Lion’s head meatball @ Wangdonglou
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 know at [email protected]!