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Xiang Er Qing

Add:3-4/F, 971 Dongfang Rd

Tel:021-5058 0777

2013-01-31

Cuisine: mainly Hubei and Hunan cuisines, also Cantonese dishes

Ambience: A large restaurant over two stories, decorated in typical modern style with big round banquet tables in the hall and private rooms.

Who to invite: Family and friends. Also suitable for a casual business dinner or something more formal, like a wedding banquet.

Pros: It's a chain with five large outlets in Shanghai, including one on Nanjing Road. Service is good and the menu includes many favorites. The big, bright luxuriously decorated hall creates a comfortable dining environment. There's also free parking and an online menu.

Cons: Prices are slighter higher than other Hubei-style restaurants. Some outlets are far from downtown areas. Some rustic dishes, like sauteed Chinese kale, although available if you ask, are not on the menu.

Recommended: The steamed Wuchang fish served with vinegar (醋浇武昌鱼): The tender fish is plump, succulent and rich in flavor. Pearl-shaped balls(珍珠丸子) are another must-try, the soft glutinous rice filled with fresh pork and water chestnut. The flavor-filled dish is served with poached egg, which adds to appetizing flavor. Also recommended is the pork chop soup with lotus root (排骨藕汤). Simmered for several hours makes the lotus root melt-in-the-mouth tender and the soup is slightly sweet and pleasant to the palate.

Don't order: The Regan noodles (热干面) are too salty, and some people say lack authentic Wuhan taste.

Drinks: Corn juice. Freshly extracted, not very sweet but good.

Cost: 120-140 yuan (US$19-22) per person

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