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.
Lamb in Shanghai might seem synonymous with crackling, fat-popping street skewers and Xinjiang lamb legs, but one of the more popular, local preparations is chilled lamb with rice wine. A popular farmer’s breakfast in olden times when Shanghai still had a countryside, lamb with rice wine (羊肉和黄酒, yangrou he huangjiu) is still enjoyed by old-timers at 6am in Zhujiajiao, Qibao Old Town, and other former rural areas. The tastiest is at Zhenru Yangrou Guan near the Tongchuan Fish Market.
The edge of a fish market might seem an odd place for such a red-meat-heavy enterprise, but Zhenru Yangrou Guan has been carving the best chilled lamb in town for over 100 years, way before Tongchuan. It’s also been doing snout-to-tail long before the modern snout-to-tail movement in the West, serving every part of the beast from the brain to the penis chilled, though not all bits are in stock everyday. They can serve lamb parts in hotpot or as a stir-fry, but there’s a reason cold heads and eyeballs leer up at you from every table. The best bits, and what the locals will rise at the crack of dawn for, however, are the lamb slices (白切羊肉, bai qie yangrou, 78RMB per jin). You order and pay at the butcher-style counter, before sitting down and waiting to be served.
To eat, simply nab a slice with your chopsticks and dip it in the chili paste or vinegar and scallion dip. The pungent, gelatinous character evokes head cheese crossed with lamb chop, but more scored with fat, and the perfect pairing for the mellow rice wine.
Zhenru Yangrou Guan – No 1 Siqian Street, near Beishi Road, Putuo District (上海市普陀区寺前街1号, 近北石路). Tel: (0)21-5266-5100. Hours: 6am-10pm. Closest metro stop: Zhenru (真如) Line 11.
Last time on Dish of the Day: Shui zhu yu (water boiled fish) @ Spicy Joint
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