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.
Dianshi Zhai Small Feast is like the Asphodel Fields of Shanghai cuisine: everyone agrees it’s decent, but no one seems willing to put it in their top 10, or really say much about it. However, we think it serves among the most pristine examples of Shanghai food in town, and without the gratuitous grease, sugar and portions found at most depots. Case in point: their Dong Po Pork (东坡肉, dong po rou).
Named after Song Dynasty poet, Su Dongpo, this Hangzhou specialty entails a block of succulent pork belly that’s pan-fried, then braised in dark soy, light soy, and Shaoxing wine. We find it vastly superior to the ubiquitous bowl of braised pork cubes served at most Shanghai establishments, especially the version at Dianshi Zhai small feast. No more than a brownie-sized block of pork inundated with tarry black braise, it’s so succulent you’d think they combined ten of Yuan Yuan’s hongshao rou cubes into one like a matryoshka doll of meat.
And yet due to the small portion – it’s basically a lone block of meat in sauce – you end up craving another. Don’t get it. One’s a snack, two will make your blood congeal into cake frosting. The richness speaks volumes about the quality of the meat, oil, and braise; it conveys in one block what would take another restaurant five to get across. And it’s only 28RMB. If you don’t have time to venture out to Lou Wai Lou in Hangzhou (heck, even if you do), definitely give this unctuous hunk a munch.
Dianshi Zhai Small Feast – 320 Yongjia Lu, Xiangyang Lu (永嘉路320号, 近襄阳路). Tel: (0)21-5465-0270. Hours: 11am-2pm lunch, 5:30-9:30pm dinner. Closest metro stop: Hengshan Road, line 1.
Last time on Dish of the Day: Fried crullers and soy milk @ Lao Shaoxing Doujiang
See a complete list of our Dish of the Day series here.
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