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.
One of the most popular cold chicken dishes in Shanghai, drunken chicken (jiuiji, 醉雞) entails poached country chicken that’s soaked in Shaoxing wine for hours, often overnight. The meat becomes supremely tender and lush with an aura of liquor. Unfortunately nowadays with increased factory farming, flabby, big-breasted feedlot chickens are replacing the supple, narrow-chested country chickens that are traditionally used. As a result you get blander meat that’s more watery than juicy. Even praised drunken chicken depots are guilty of using feedlot fodder.
Fortunately a few still serve tender birds from the country, our favorite being Kong Yi Ji Jiu Jia, a Shaoxing restaurant named after the fabled scholar from writer Lu Xun’s Call to Arms. One of city’s chief Shaoxing wine spots, the joint abounds with ancient drums of Shaoxing wine like a hedonistic emperor’s partially-excavated tomb. And ruddy-faced patrons down pints of it. The only thing drunker than the clientele is the food, which entails everything from drunken mud snails to drunken sea snails to drunken chicken.
Kong Yi Ji’s rendition is served with home made hua diao jiu (花雕酒) from Shaoxing rather than the usual cheap substitutes, and comes either hot or cold. The cold chicken, labelled “Shaoxing ancient method of chicken (38RMB),” is a refreshing palate primer with cooling slices of firm flesh veiled with yellow fat, while the hot chicken presents a warming, meaty bookend to a night of Shaoxing-wine-tinged debauchery. It’s called “gold carved too chicken” on the menu and runs you 48RMB for half a bird, 88RMB per whole.
Kong Yi Ji Jiujia – 36-40 Xuegong Lu, near Wenmiao Lu (学宫路36-40号, 近文庙街). Tel: (0)21-6376-7979. Hours: 10am-9pm.
Last time on Dish of the Day: Cong kao yu tou (cod head with spring onions) @ Jesse Restaurant
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]!