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.
Shanghai has no shortage of great noodle nooks – Lao Difang, A Niang Mian, to name a few – but these spots shutter in the early evening, or when supplies run out. The street carts are open until late, but they’re not always in the same spot (as the Chengguan often sends them packing), and sometimes you just don’t feel like sloshing through gutter grease. That’s where Ding Te Le comes in. It’s basically A Niang Mian with insomnia, serving among the best noods in town 24/7.
The lion’s share of customers come for the bái zhī cōng yóu ròu sī bàn miàn (白汁葱油肉丝拌面), wispy noodles sprinkled with sweet spring onions and pork strands, and coiled in a lagoon of milky pork stock. It’s good, but all too common, and the simple, oily-sweet duet does wear on the palate after a while. We prefer their spicy noodles (辣肉雪菜面, là ròu xuě cài miàn).
There’s a lot more going on in this bowl. The standard cloudy pork broth is rife with chili oil, preserved mustard greens bob at the top like savory lily pads, and they’ve thrown in some Chinese cabbage leaves for crunch. Once you’re done skimming all that off the surface, trawl the bottom of the bowl with your chopsticks to rouse tender slices of pork to the top. As always, the noodles are perfect; silk-soft but also elastic enough so they don’t break off when pinched with chopsticks – unlike a lot of the “silly string” varieties we see about town.
If you want to give this dish even more backbone, throw in a fried pork chop ((香炸大排, xiāng zhà dà pái). Every place does this right? Well, Ding Te Le’s taken it up a notch by using higher-grade pork (let’s face it, most taste like KFC chicken), scaling back the fried crust a bit, and massaging the cutlet with five-spice powder. You can also douse it with the Shanghai Worcestershire sauce on the table, labelled “Shanghai La Jiang You Feng Wei Tiao Wei Liao.”
At 30RMB, this mini meal is not the cheapest, but there’s really nothing better for satisfying your nocturnal noodle cravings.
Ding Te Le – No. 22, 494 Huaihai Lu, near Yandang Lu (淮海中路494弄22号,
近雁荡路). Tel: (0)21-5103-6275. Hours: Open 24 hours. Closest metro stop: South Huangpi Road.
Last time on Dish of the Day: Sesame noodles @ Wei Xiang Zhai
See a complete list of our Dish of the Day series here.
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