The menu at this excellent new Shanghainese restaurant is a vast tome. You can order sea cucumber, ostrich meat, or long-boiled exotic soups like crocodile and mushroom (45RMB/bowl). But the reason to trek to this giant new mall near the South Bund is for Shanghai's most famed dishes, done with skill and balance, and for what might just be Shanghai's best modern hongshaorou (52RMB).
Served in a geometric pile of sharply cut blocks, the shiny pork meat shreds in the teeth while the fat melts on the palate. The cubes are coated and surrounded by a sauce as dark and gooey as treacle. The meat is more coarsely textured and the fatty layer less gelatinous than the traditional version, served at veteran establishments like Jesse's and Baoluo. You might even like it better.
Steamed Subei hen (68RMB), a free-range bird, takes 25 minutes to cook. It arrives, finally, in a brilliant, nearly glowing, yellow broth. The meat is not melting tender; this is a bird that actually had some space to move – it tastes meaty and strong with a fresh aroma. Deep fried anchovies (45RMB) are fried crisp and served whole. The lightly sweet marinade has infused this robustly flavoured ocean fish.
You may come across a few tiny bits of shell hidden in the bright orange roe, crabmeat and silky tofu of the crabmeat tofu (49RMB). But this means the stuff has been hand-picked out of the shell, and besides, it's absolutely delicious and fresh. For dessert, the durian puffs are fabulous: greasy, crisp and filled with a hot custard of the pungent fruit.
Waitstaff are always at hand, taking care of guests with rapid plate changes and professional presentation of dishes. Even when the dining room is heaving with a huge crowd, there are two or three waitstaff checking in frequently.
The interior is modern and shiny, with upholstered seating and glass and wood table tops. It is neither ostentatious nor particularly sophisticated. But in the points that matter – food and service – Shanghai Chic lives up to its name.