Add:1018 Changning Rd
Credit Cards Accepted
English Service Available
Jinyi focuses on traditional Shanghainese cuisine, particularly the home-style cooking of middle-class moms in the 1980s.
Restaurateur Chen Xiaofeng says Jinyi pays great attention to traditional Shanghainese preparation methods, which can differ from the customary Chinese way. For example, the hongshaorou, red-braised pork belly, is slightly sweeter than that found in most Chinese restaurants although it is just as juicy and tender.
The famous Shanghainese xiaolongbao are filled with shredded crab roe, not the usual pork. Crab roe is a popular delicacy in Shanghai and Jinyi is keen to emphasize this based on the shredding station in the front of the restaurant. Even shengjianbao, pan-fried dumplings filled with pork, a classic found in countless restaurants around the nation, are given a Shanghainese spin — the skin was much thinner than the dumplings found in other Chinese restaurants. Jinyi’s dumplings are almost exclusively found at Shanghai street-food carts. These small yet significant details all contribute to a more authentic, memorable meal.
Another highlight is the “crab egg,” a dish created by their Shanghai chef for an international competition. The crab egg consists of shredded crab roe (the yolk) and a gelatin-infused stock jelly substance (the egg white). It’s shaped like a translucent, beautiful egg sitting in light vinegar. Although a bit of a struggle for those who haven’t mastered chopsticks, this dish is worth the effort because Jinyi is one of a few places where one can enjoy it at an affordable price.
The dish is also considered a metaphor for the spirit of Shanghai, a fusion between East and West, a blend of the old and new. Traditional Shanghainese cuisine is different from general Chinese food in that it embraces foreign influences. Jinyi seeks to reflect this. Other well-executed fusion dishes include the potato salad (with homemade dressing) and the pepper-fried chicken strips in a bamboo contraption.
Jinyi pays just as much attention to the overall dining experience as it does the food. The restaurant is built to emulate an old Shanghai ferry dock. Waiters are dressed as sailors while grungy lifebuoys can be found throughout. Other old items like typewriters, record players, old street signs and traditional Chinese posters can be found on the many shelves and walls.
Add some soft music from Shanghai’s “Golden Age” in the 1920s, bright blue sofas, along with colorful plastic cups and you’ve got a quirky, eclectic feel.
The only complaint is that the restaurant may be trying to apply too many themes at once, coming off as borderline hectic. The restaurant layout is certainly eye-catching, but veers on overwhelming and distracting.
At an average price of 60 yuan (US$9.67) per person per meal, Jinyi offers an affordable meal. That being said, Westerners may want to bring along a Chinese friend for translation and menu recommendations — a simple trade-off for authenticity.