Old Jesse 吉士酒家
Address: 41 Tianping Lu, near Huaihai Xi Lu / 天平路41号, 近淮海西路
Tel: 6282 9260
Price: 100~150 RMB/person
Old Jesse needs no introduction. This cramped little place is widely recognized as the best Shanghainese restaurant in Shanghai, and is my usual go to place when out-of-town guests ask for some local flavors. Reservations absolutely necessary.
Old Jesse has a page of “recommended dishes”, and it’s pretty safe to order anything from this page. For appetizers, we tried mixed mushroom with bean curd sheet 腐竹熗蘑菇 (38 RMB) and Jishi’s salted chicken 吉士鹹雞 (38 RMB), both excellent choices. Dates stuffed with glutinous rice 心太軟 (18 RMB) is another Shanghai classic not to be missed.
Mixed mushroom with bean curd sheet 腐竹熗蘑菇, 38 RMB
Jishi’s salted chicken 吉士鹹雞, 38 RMB
Dates stuffed with glutinous rice 心太軟, 18 RMB
Old Jesse is especially famous for its braised pork in brown sauce 外婆紅燒肉 (58 RMB), and though tonight’s pot seemed overly sweet, they usually do an excellent job. The key is that satisfying layer of fat, perfectly braised to a chewy and gelatinous consistency. Bowls of rice can be easily and happily polished off with a few pieces of these hongshaorou.
Braised pork in brown sauce 外婆紅燒肉加蛋, 58 RMB (eggs, 3 RMB each)
Braised pork in brown sauce
I always order a bowl of vegetable rice 菜飯 (6 RMB) to go along with the braised pork, though regular white rice (2 RMB) works just as fine.
Vegetable rice 菜飯, 6 RMB
A simple dish of stir-fried pea shoots in white wine 酒香豆苗 (28 RMB), tender as if freshly picked that morning.
Wine sugar pea 酒香豆苗, 28 RMB
I was a little worried when ordering crabmeat with bean curd 蟹粉粉皮 (128 RMB) since it’s currently not the prime season for crab roe, but the dish turned out to be our favorite of the night. Don’t forget to add a dash of the accompanying black vinegar to cut back the greasiness and for a more layered flavor.
Crabmeat with bean curd 蟹粉粉皮, 128 RMB
Vinegar to go with the crab roe
Fried mandarin with preserved cabbage 梅乾菜桂魚 (120RMB/half kilo, or around 130 RMB/fish) is a popular dish at Old Jesse, but to me the sauce is too heavy and completely overpowers the fish.
Fried mandarin with preserved cabbage 梅乾菜桂魚, 120RMB/half kilo (around 130 RMB/fish)
Fried mandarin with preserved cabbage
A few other great dishes that we had no room for are roasted fish head with scallion 蔥香魚頭 (158 RMB, pre-ordering necessary), Subei Chicken Soup 蘇北土雞湯 (148 RMB), braised pig’s trotters in eight treasures 八寶豬手 (88 RMB/each, pre-ordering necessary), etc. etc. etc., so come hungry.
The crowd outside, waiting to be seated as we left the restaurant