Wo Jia Can Ting 我家餐厅
Bldg 7, 229 Huashan Lu (华山路229弄7号)
Wo Jia Can Ting (我家餐厅）translates into “My House Restaurant”, I’m pretty sure. And it really is. Tucked into the very end of a small alleyway and through a small door half-hidden by bicycles outside, it’s like stepping right into a local’s home. Plain flourescent lights and a simple table-and-chair set up, all 4 of them. A bit confused, I asked “Is this ‘Wo Jia Can Ting’?” and the guy in there nods and points us in.
The menu, to our total surprise, is also in English. However, don’t expect it to give away much, with descriptions such as “Beef with vegetables” and the like. However, after a bit of fudging around, broken Chinese and English, and taking our chance, we select 4 dishes.
As we wait for the food, we hear the chef in the kitchen just next to the little dining area preparing and frying up the food… just as if you were at home and listening to the cooking in the kitchen. I ask the guy that took our order (who is now having a casual smoke) how long his little restaurant is around, and he says “20-plus years”. WHOA!!! To think a hidden-away little nook could survive for 20+ years! We were duly impressed.
The Marinated peanuts and bamboo shoots was surprisingly tasty. One thing I’ve learned is that in China, peanut dishes usually have hard peanuts, not like Hong Kong where the peanuts are braised until soft (which I prefer). Despite this, the peanuts have a nice crunch and flavour, and the bamboo shoots (which I try for the first time) are tender and have about the same light flavour as the peanuts.
Their star dish is the “you bao xia”, literally Oil Exploding Prawns (!!). It’s the first time we’ve had it in Shanghai and CRIPES I WANT MORE!!!! It’s actually a fairly simple dish – flash-fried river shrimp, served in a light sweet-ish sauce of Shaoxing/rice wine, ginger, sugar, and soy sauce. You can pop the entire little shrimp in your mouth, but we eat the tail/body and bite off the head. They’re so fresh that the meat is naturally sweet and the shell around the body is really thin and gives a nice crisp crunch. Delicious.
I’m not a huge fan of the Deep fried pork with salt & pepper. It’s an okay dish, but I find the pork rather bland and the salt/pepper dip pretty uninteresting. I would’ve preferred it to be cooked WITH the salt & pepper and other spices, to give more dimension to the flavour. However, the portion is sizable and does a good job of filling us up.
We took a chance with the Swordbeans fried with garlic and little shrimp as we didn’t know what swordbeans are. Well, now we do! It’s basically like long/string beans. They were wok-fried with copious amounts of garlic and some soy, and scattered with teeny shrimp. It was a fantastic dish – tasty and very satisfying.
Great, home-style cooked food at a very reasonable price. We also loved the fun factor of feeling like we were eating in someone’s house. Or should I say, “my house”? :P
Tucked away at the end of an alleyway
A tiny little alcove with just 4 tables
Marinated peanuts and bamboo shoots
“you bao xia”, literally Oil Exploding Prawns
Deep fried pork with salt & pepper
Swordbeans fried with garlic and little shrimp
All washed down with some icy cold beer