Chilli Makes You Ruddy

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290 Tianping Lu

A poster at the entrance to Tianping Lu’s Chili Makes You Ruddy, Shanghai’s second branch of the wonderfully named Sichuanese eatery following the original outpost on Dongzhuanbang Lu, declares that the post-’90s generation owner has two dreams. One, as a student at Shanghai Theatre Academy, is to become a star of the stage and screen; the other is to serve the best tasting chuanchuan (traditional Sichuanese skewers) in town. We’re not sure how he’s doing with the acting, but he might just have achieved his other goal.


Don’t be fooled by the changing room mirror-like spotlights that decorate the store front – Chili Makes You Ruddy is a basic affair once you’re in the door, but it offers some highly authentic, brilliantly spicy food at bargain prices; little wonder it’s already become a favourite with the nearby Jiaotong University student population.


The waitstaff will encourage you to order through a web app on your phone, but they have old-school ordering sheets for you to mark up too; either way, note that the menu is only in Chinese, though there are a handful of pictures. On one side of the paper menu there’s a good range of noodle dishes – the lightly spicy braised beef (红烧牛肉面, 25RMB at lunch, 18RMB for a smaller bowl at dinner) being a particular highlight with hunks of beef atop a bed of chewy noodles and lipsmacking (if oily) broth. Get a small bowl at dinner with one of the side dishes (try the delicious potato slices, 土豆 6RMB, which are served cold and slathered in a punchy chili oil) and you can walk away satisfied for under 30RMB.


On the other side of the ordering sheet is the chuanchuan selection for which the restaurant is becoming known (only available in the evenings). You choose your spiciness level (微 light, 中 medium or 重 strong) and then tick off ingredients from a list that includes everything from beef tongue (牛舌), shrimp (基围虾) and spicy beef ( 麻辣牛肉) for 3RMB a stick, to ten different types of mushroom (all 1.5RMB each) and vegetables and squashes such as cauliflower (花 菜), aubergine ( 茄子) and pumpkin (南瓜). The result is a rather unglamourous bowl of wooden sticks afloat in a shimmering bowl of chili oil, but the ingredients are fresh and the spice levels authentically fierce.


You’ll want to have a cold drink ready (a large Tsingtao is 12RMB), but this is a pleasingly rustic, good value Sichuanese experience.

By Jake Newby

Venue name: Chilli Makes You Ruddy
Contact:
Opening hours: 11am-11.30pm daily
Metro: Xujiahui
English address: 290 Tianping Lu, near Hengshan Lu, Xuhui
Chinese address: 徐汇区天平路290号, 近衡山路