Add:36 Xuegong St (Inside Shanghai Confucian Temple)
Ambience: Nestled in a small lane near the bustling Shanghai Confucian Temple, the restaurant stands out with its traditional-style architecture and strings of glowing red lanterns at night. It is named after the renowned character in Lu Xun's novel "Kong Yiji." It's filled with the aroma of warm Shaoxing wine, and the decor suggests an old southern Chinese inn. The name is written on a wooden board at the entrance, the tables and benches are black lacquer, the wooden window frames are carved, bowls of rice wine are placed as offerings on an alter. Simple pottery and porcelain ware are used. Calligraphy about the pleasures of wine decorates the walls.
Who to invite: Friends, boyfriend/girlfriend, family, anyone who wants authentic Shaoxing cuisine.
Pros: Tasty food and pleasant environment. Most specialties and a variety of Shaoxing wine are offered. On the second floor, there's an open kitchen where diners can see how cold dishes are prepared.
Cons: Waiters don't speak English and the menu is in Chinese. The neighborhood is packed with vendors, so it's hard to find parking.
Recommended: Steamed pork with preserved vegetables (mei cai kou rou 梅菜扣肉) is well cooked and the meat melts in the mouth. But it's not oily because the fat is absorbed by the preserved vegetables underneath the pork. Steamed chicken with Taidiao rice wine (Taidiao ji 太雕鸡) is juicy, tender and has a strong rice wine aroma. Taidiao is a half-dry rice wine preserved for more than a decade. Another dish, fennel beans (huixiang dou 茴香豆) flavored with cinnamon, is soft but not mushy; it has a slightly sweet aftertaste.
Don't order: If you don't like stinky tofu, do not order it. The fried stinky tofu is unexceptional.
Drinks: Shaoxing wine and soft drinks
Cost: 150 yuan (US$24) for three, including drinks