Shanghainese food is not one of those cuisines which attains international appeal easily.. I remember one of my worst (but funny) experiences with Shanghai cuisine was not with the food per se. Whilst trying to impress my CEO from the US back in 2006, I thought that Shanghainese food was in keeping with the company's aggressive growth strategy into China. What followed was an unfortunate comedy of errors.. as my CEO rattled off a string of items he disliked, what I ordered arrived and like clockwork, they were vinegar, sugar and sesame seeds. If anyone knows Shanghainese food, you can pretty much figure out how low I sunk into my chair by the middle of the meal but thankfully, he was game enough and the food was good enough to change his perception.. I got to keep my job of course..
Enough said, I actually like Shanghainese food for the precise things he dislikes although I prefer a chef with a lighter hand since it can get too oily for me. In Hong Kong, and especially in a restaurant like ye shanghai, you can get "internationalised" Shanghai food. And so, even though it has been open for a while, it merits a spot on the blog after my recent visit after a break of about 18 months.
One of the best places to have this appetiser especially if alcohol is being served, be it a cold beer or a nice burgundy... Crispy eel, Wuxi style is little eels deep fried to an absolute crisp and tossed in a sticky sauce of sugar, vinegar and soya sauce, topped with julienned preserved ginger slivers. Great way to wake up the appetite.
In keeping with the Hairy Crab season, we select an old favourite of baked sesame pockets but a stuffing of pure sauteed hairy crab meat and roe with bean sprouts and mushrooms. Perfect crab freshness with some crunch made for an excellent Shanghainese taco and drizzled with quality Zhejiang black vinegar, that much better!
And then, one of the long time favourites at ye shanghai, the roe crab stir fried with hairy beans (from edamame) and Shanghainese rice cakes. This is one of those addictive dishes where you try to lick every morsel because of the tastiness of the sauce and of course, we chose a roe crab instead of a hairy one, because we love the contrast of the fresh meat from the roe crab with the sauce. If you didn't have enough "meat" you might feel a little too sauced out because it is pretty hearty.
While ye shanghai may not be be quintessentially Shanghainese, it is in my opinion, an excellent way to enjoy the cuisine's favourites but not feel like a sinking grease bag afterwards...
Level 3, Pacific Place
Admiralty, Hong Kong