Unit 4, Bldg 9, Lane 169 Taicang Lu
I’ve heard about Jesse Restaurant from many people and many websites. They’re a highly rated and popular Shanghainese restaurant that’s frequented both by expats and locals. We finally made our way there one evening for dinner, at the branch in Xintiandi. Let me just say, this place is hidden in PLAIN SIGHT. The problem? They don’t have the English name “Jesse restaurant” ANYWHERE on the front facade of the building! They’ve only got the Chinese characters and obviously since we can’t read Chinese, we kept walking past it. Finally, we poked our head into the front door and asked “Errrr…. Jesse?” and the waiter grimly nodded his head.
He was our waiter for our meal and whilst he wasn’t rude, he was really poker-faced. Shouldn’t customer service be warm and friendly and helpful? I guess we are in a Chinese restaurant :P Thankfully though, the menu was all in English and so we didn’t have to ask him for help when ordering. It’s also a really nice, clean, well-lit restaurant.. I suppose because it’s in ritzy Xintiandi. Since I heard it was a local Shanghainese place, I’d expected a grimy, dirty noisy hole-in-the-wall (those often serve the best food!) and was surprised this restaurant was actually really nice.. I suppose it caters more for the expat crowd due to its location.
The Braised fatty pork was, of course, our instant choice. I LOVE this Shanghainese dish. It’s very fatty chunks of pork layered with fat and cut into chunks, then braised for ages in an earthen pot in a rich and thick black/red sauce. The result is very very tender fatty pork that bursts with lip-smacking flavour, that’s slightly sweet and slightly salty. It’s luscious! Often, places don’t cook it well and the pork isn’t very tender, but Jesse does it perfectly. We dig into the very reasonably-sized pot and happily chomp our way through the soft and moist pork chunks. Mmm… bliss.
We decide to be healthy and get a dish of Vegetables and tofu. I forgot what it’s called on the menu, but it sounded like plain green vegetables. But we got something like very very thin and hard bamboo shoots? It had a very ‘green’ taste and, to me, was inedible. It’s just personal taste though, I’m sure, and I tend to dislike veggies… especially these ones :P Chris, on the other hand, thought they were just fine.
The other star dish was the Scallion pancakes. Small discs of buttery goodness, that flaked with a push of our chopsticks. They were so buttery and warm and such comfort-food! Delicious just eaten as-is, or dunked into the Braised fatty pork sauce. Sooooo good.
Our carb dish was the Minced pork vermicelli , which came steaming hot and fragrant in an earthen pot. The glistening strands of glassy noodles were very oily, but worth it because it was packed with flavour and downright delicious. They didn’t scrimp on the minced pork either, which added a great meaty flavour to the slippery noodles.
I thoroughly enjoyed the meal, though you could say they don’t serve the healthiest of food. So if you’re into healthy-eating, you won’t want to order what we ordered, since all our dishes were heavily oiled and/or fatty. However, if you’re into fantastic-tasting food and don’t care about turning into a fatty, get what we got, because it was AWESOME!
Inside Jesse (pic stole from The Dining Secretary)
Braised fatty pork
Vegetables and tofu
Minced pork vermicelli