Xiao Shaoxing

  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Shanghainese
69-75 Yunnan Nan Lu

Perhaps the best way to describe Xiao Shaoxing is utterly chaotic. This restaurant, the name of which literally means ‘little Shaoxing’, has been present in our city since the 1940s, when founder Mr Zhang arrived in Shanghai from the eponymous Zhejiang city, birthplace of Lu Xun. At first, Zhang etched out a living for himself selling snacks, but as time went on, his tender boiled chicken grew in popularity and it is now the restaurant’s signature dish.

To the uninitiated, things can seem confusing here. Heavy wooden chairs clatter and bang as they are moved about the stark dining room. Waiters push carts piled high with dishes and chicken bones get scattered about on the tables. Given how busy this place gets at meal times, you might have to hover next to a table and wait to sit down, or share a table with other diners. But it’s an authentic type of no-frills Shanghai dining and this raucous environment is home to some of the best tender-boiled chicken in the city.

When you get to Xiao Shaoxing, you’ll need to order at the counter in the middle (it might be useful to have the Chinese dish names handy). Then take your receipt to the counter on the left, grab a plastic tray and you’ll be unceremoniously handed your chicken. If you’ve ordered anything other than the chicken, you’ll need to head to the counter on the right for collection.

If you’re after a more sedate experience, head up to the second floor where you can sit and order from a menu. Prices are slightly more expensive (with the chicken priced from 36RMB for a small, and 60RMB for a regular-sized platter) however it’s not a bad option if you’re keen to avoid the bustle on the ground floor.

On our recent visit, we were joined at our downstairs table by fellow diners Mrs Qian and her sister and mother. They’ve been going to Xiao Shaoxing for almost 30 years, since Mrs Qian was a little girl.

In the beginning, she tells us, the taste of the chicken was better. ‘Nowadays we are spoilt for choice. There are just too many things for us to try and the quality of life has risen. But the price here is reasonable; it hasn’t really increased much.’

As for the atmosphere, Mrs Qian says she prefers the renao environment downstairs. ‘It’s ordinary, like any other restaurant,’ she says. ‘You can’t compare it with the fancy places especially when the food is such good value for money.’

And it’s true, Xiao Shaoxing is a great little place to chow down on affordable, tasty Chinese food, not to mention brush up on your Shanghainese with some locals.

Key dishes If you’ve managed to navigate a seat downstairs, the tender boiled chicken (小绍 兴白斩鸡, Xiao Shàoxing báizhanji, 42RMB for regular size) is a must order. It’s soft and succulent, and you can see why people get hooked. One serving is easily enough for a few diners, especially if ordered with a soothing – albeit somewhat bland – chicken congee (鸡粥, jizhou) for a ridiculously affordable 2RMB per bowl.

Elsewhere on the menu, the spicy chicken noodles (鸡骨酱面(辣), jigu jiàng miàn [là], again cheap at only 13RMB), are tasty and satisfying, but it’s really the chicken that’s the draw here.

By Victoria Brownlee

Venue name: Xiao Shaoxing
Opening hours: 10am-10pm daily
Metro: Dashijie
English address: 69-75 Yunnan Nan Lu , near Ninghai Dong Lu, Huangpu district
Chinese address: 黄浦区云南南路69-75号, 近宁海东路