With half Shanghainese blood flowing in my veins, I was quite excited to make this food trip to discover what the local cuisine is like. Old Jesse came highly recommend by several friends, so here we were, our 1st meal in the famous Old Jesse, shortly after landing in 上海.
Located at 41 Tianping Lu, reservations are a must. We booked 3 days in advance and got a table at 8pm (and still have to wait quite a bit). Not uncommon to have queues outside. It is a small space inside (2 floors), tables are close to each other which gives a “diner” atmosphere.
醉蟹 (raw crab preserved in wine). A seasonal dish, we enjoyed this uniquely prepped wine soaked cold crab. The smell and taste of wine might overwhelm those who do not like chinese wine, but if you are up for it, do not miss this unique dish.
We came in the height of crab season! Look at those beautiful colors and textures! Cold, firm and fresh, with nice bite and flavor. Our cholesterol has definitely gone up a few notches after this trip…
臭豆腐 (smelly/ stinky tofu). I like 臭豆腐, and this variation in serving was a nice surprise. The tofu is minced and mixed with other ingredients, stuffed into a skin wrap and deep-fried (like popiah). Great with the chilli dip. Warning : if you absolutely cannot tolerate the smell of 臭豆腐 you should skip this dish.
苏北土鸡汤. This is one giant pot of chicken soup. Even with the 8 of us, we could barely finish it with 2 rounds. Totally flavourful, it was as if 10 chickens had been stuffed into the pot and drained of all their essence. Very “jiak bok”.
Ok, I have no idea what style of fish this was. It seems that river fish is very popular in Shanghai (at most of the places we went to eat). Since river fish is not something I like to eat due to the strong taste and tougher texture, it would not be fair to have an opinion on this. We tried to finish as much as we could but it wasn’t popular with most of us at the table.
炒年糕 (Stir fried Shanghai Rice Noodles) or “ngee gor”. Growing up in Singapore, I remember the version that my Shanghainese grandmother cooked for her grandchildren – a stir fry with lots of vegetables and pork. The recipe carried on with my mother, but the work to soak the noodles and stir fry large batches (to feed the whole clan) meant we would enjoy it usually only at Chinese New Year. Naturally I was very excited to try the “real” thing in Shanghai. The noodles here was much thinner and lighter, less oil, and much easier on the palate and less heavy on the stomach. I liked it very much given my taste for “ngee gor”, a must try local dish.
心太軟 (Dates stuffed with glutinous rice). Tickled by the name which translates to “heart too soft”. Sweet and sticky dessert to end the meal.
Overall we were very glad to have experienced the whole meal on our first night here. It is not a cheap place to eat, so going in a larger group would be more economical to try many dishes. Do not expect first class service and manners, this is after all a very local joint. We did manage however, after a while (with patience and a good dose of humor), to establish a rapport with one of the servers and was rewarded with a fairly good recommendation of dishes and quick service. Some reviews complain about the cramped seating space and low ceiling, we see it as part of the charm. In fact the tables next to us was a large group of Singaporean family, and another lady from Hong Kong travelling with her daughter and friend who drops by each time they come to Shanghai. Turning over tables fast seems to be the goal here, so make your orders quickly, enjoy the meal, and let the next group queuing outside come in and enjoy the evening there as well.
Overall – 8/10
Address : 41 Tian Ping Road, Shanghai 200030
Tel : +86 21 6282 9260