Spicy Moment

  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Hunan
Photograph: Michael Yeung 
71A Wuyuan Lu
This stretch of Wuyuan Lu still retains an old local feel, with a tailor shop, a bike repair shop and a quiet neighbourliness. The first creeping signs of gentrification are when you hit these two chic shop fronts, which face each other across the street. The older one is Moment Décor, a modern furniture store which has showcased at the Milan furniture fair. The other is a new Hunan noodle shop, with the warehouse chic of Noodle Bull or Shintori. Both are run by Dant Deng, a designer from Hunan.

Deng re-did this small restaurant, previously a fast food-type Chinese joint, with raw cement floors and a curved wall made from old abacuses. The central communal table is a thick slab of wood, from a size of tree that hasn’t existed in Shanghai for a generation. Contrasting with the old wood are space-age-silver seat cushions and drawings by contemporary artist Zhou Tiehai. The atmosphere is hip and cosy, though the bench seating is on the narrow side.

As of now, the decor is more interesting than the menu. The friendly, soft-spoken Deng says he knows design, but not restaurants and he’s still experimenting. For now, there are only six noodle dishes and six cold appetisers, all tasty but none extraordinary. The house tea, a barely sweet liquorice-scented liquid, has a delicious soothing property.

Paigumian (noodles with ribs, 38RMB) is a sour-hot broth with white beans, minced green beans and a few meaty ribs. The noodle soup with fresh wild mushrooms (42RMB) has a satisfying smokiness and plenty of shimeji mushrooms. The best of the appetisers is the shousiji or shredded chicken (28RMB), which is very tender and tossed with chillies and their seeds. Nothing here is sweat-inducingly spicy, and Deng says that despite its reputation, Hunan cuisine at its origin is not volcanically hot.

Spicy Moment’s location and atmosphere is already drawing in tables of expats, happy to discover this anti-hole in the wall, for a casual bowl of noodles and some beers with friends.

Crystyl Mo
Venue name: Spicy Moment
Opening hours: 11am-10pm daily
Metro: Changshu Lu
English address: 71A Wuyuan Lu, near Changshu Lu,
Chinese address: 湖南料理 徐汇区五原路71号,近常熟路