by Jamie Barys, Chief Eating Officer of UnTour Food Tours
Looking for Shanghai’s Best Sichuan food? Chuan cuisine – as Sichuan cuisine is known throughout China – relies heavily on five-alarm chili peppers (la) and mouth-numbing Sichuan peppercorn (ma) to create the mala spicy flavors that have made it world famous. The climate of the region is humid and cold, so the piquant dishes warm up the residents from the inside out. UNESCO also named Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, the first Asian City of Gastronomy in 2010. Pungent flavors run throughout the menu, with garlic, ginger and peanuts making it into most dishes. Here are ten of Shanghai’s Best Sichuan restaurants.
1. Chuan Chuan Xiang Ma La Tang, 串串香麻辣烫
This mouth-numbingly spicy soup doses its broth with 20 ingredients, including Sichuan peppercorns, fresh chilies, ginger, star anise and ginkgo nuts. Pick your soup’s fresh, raw fillers and place them in a basket where they’ll be counted up by the cashier before stewing in the fragrant broth. Don’t forget a squirt of peanut sauce and handful of cilantro to finish off your soup!
French Concession Location: 311 Xiangyang Nan Lu, near Yongjia Lu. 311 号近永嘉路.
Xujiahui Location: 200 Wanping Nan Lu, near Xingeng Lu. 平南路 200号 近辛耕路.
2. Dengji Shiyuan 邓记食园
The fact that a restaurant from land-locked Sichuan province offers one of the best crab dishes in town demonstrates Shanghai’s ability to bring together the best of the country’s cuisines and ingredients. The crab dish that makes this restaurant famous relies on the pickled vegetables native to Sichuan, and all the supporting dishes are downright delicious.
73 7 Dingxi Lu, near Yan’an Xi Lu. 定西路 737号近延安西路.
3. Fly By Jing
This pop-up by Jenny Gao, a Chengdu native who grew up in Canada, is Sichuan fusion at its finest. You can find her on Instagram @flybyjing to see when she’s throwing her next dinner party featuring lobster risotto or her traditional zhong dumplings. You can also find her famous vegetarian Mapo Tofu on the menu at Delish (Yanqing Lu) and she often pops up at More Than Eat (Julu Lu) on the weekends – follow her Instagram to find out more. Instagram: @flybyjing
4. La Wei Xian 辣味鲜
This tiny restaurant is the final stop on UnTour’s Night Markets tour – and it’s worth a visit just to meet the gregarious proprietor: Mr Liu. He’s proud of the spicy food his brother churns out of the miniscule kitchen, and you won’t go five minutes without him telling you he serves the most authentic Sichuan cuisine. He’s not wrong.
6 Jianguo Dong Lu, near Zhaozhou Lu. 建国东路 6 号近肇周路
5. Liu Dao Men 六道门
This noodle shop does a bustling trade in Sichuan’s most slurp-able strands that are hard to find, like sweetwater noodles and chickpea & ground pork noodles. Grab a seat on the second floor loft for a birds’ eye view of happy diners – but don’t order yours very spicy (or even medium) unless you’re sure you can take it. They don’t mess around when it comes to spice levels here.
419 -1 Xinhua Lu, near Xianghuaqiao L. 新华路419号-1近香花桥路
6. Maurya 孔雀川菜
This upscale Sichuan restaurant has several locations around town – mostly located in luxury malls where its Tiffany blue color scheme fits right in. You’ll find the standard versions of most Sichuan dishes on the menu, but have you tried Kung Pao foie gras? Here’s your chance.
Jing’an Location: Kerry Center North Block, #14, 1515 Nanjing Xi Lu, near Anyi Lu.
南京西路 1515号嘉里二期北区四楼14号商铺 (近安义路)
Xintiandi Location: #235-02, North block of Xintiandi, 181 Taicang Lu, near Huangpi Nan Lu.
Xujiahui Location: Grand Gateway, 5F, 1 Hongqiao Lu. 虹桥路1号港汇恒隆广场5楼(徐家汇地铁站)
7. Yi Zhang Hong – 丈红
This two-story joint in the former French Concession is not owned by a Sichuan native; the owner is a Taiwanese restaurateur who also owns Jianguo 328 (Shanghainese). She’s made a name for herself by promoting clean eating – all of her noodles are boiled in filtered water and the no smoking ban is actually enforced at all of her restaurants. Plus, the food is excellent, if not overly spicy.
354 Wulumuqi Lu, near Fuxing Lu. 乌鲁木齐中路354号近复兴路
8. Yu Xin 俞信
Since 1993, Yu Xin’s chefs shipped their herbs and peppers from Sichuan to their Beijing & Shanghai restaurants. Their water-poached fish is one of the most recommended dishes on all of Dianping (China’s Yelp), so don’t miss it. There’s no reservations after 6pm, so bring a book if you plan to go during peak meal times.
Bund Location: 5F, 399 Jiujiang Lu, near Shaanxi Nan Lu. 九江399号华大厦5楼山.
Jing’an Location: 3F, 333 Chengdu Bei Lu, near Weihai Lu. 成北333号招商局广场3楼威海.
9. Xiaochu Mian 小厨面
Straight from China’s spiciest province, Xiaochu Mian dishes up noodles from three unassuming locations in Pudong. In an area dominated by new malls and soulless restaurant conglomerates, the mini-chain is a fiery breath of fresh air. The noodles mingle with Sichuan peppercorns (椒huājiāo), creating the mouth-numbing flavor of the region.
Original location: 181 Juye Lu, near Qishan Lu. 巨181号栖山.
Second location: 666 Zhangjiang Lu, near Ziwei Lu. 张江666号微
Third location: 268 Yinxiao Lu, near Yinghua Lu. 268号樱
Written by Jamie Barys, Chief Eating Officer at UnTour Food Tours.
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