Fu 1088 福一零八八 [Shanghai]

Translated as Blessing 1088, 福一零八八 or also known as Fu 1088 is fine Shanghainese dining at its best. In the popular Jingan District, you won’t find a flashy sign, nor large crowds, yet this unassuming location features a great atmosphere for groups.

In a renovated early 1900′s mansion, Fu 1088 has taken this unique space to feature multiple private dining rooms. There’s a large main dinning floor on the 1st floor. In addition, there’s at least 3 or floor floors in the restaurant – with each floor having 3 or 4 private dining rooms. Fine dining in China, almost always requires a private room. I think in the US, patrons enjoy to people watch.

Another thing about Chinese dining . . . its always good to have a large group so you can order many different dishes. It doesn’t make sense to have a small group of 4 or less, with 4 dishes or so. With at least 8 people, you can order lots of little dishes and try many things. I know when I went to eat Chinese food in the states, with a friend or a date, we always tended to over order to try many things. And we ended up finishing less than half the meal.

Tonight, our group of 8, got order many dishes. Fu 1088 presented the a typical Shanghai fried fish in stacks piled up high. I thought this was a great take on a usually boring dish. We then had another fish dish, which was steamed with a thick sweet sauce. I could do without the thick and sweet sauce, a trait that makes Shanghainese food famous or infamous for.

Almost every Shanghainese meal I’ve had, always included the famous braised sweet pork. Tonight was no different, since I am a big fan of anything pig . . . It was presented in a dark reddish glaze over the clear fat. You knew that you would be entering mouth ecstasy of this magnificent dish. As the lazy susan rotated to me, I almost couldn’t hold it in as I watched everyone juggle the jiggling pork fat with their chopsticks. But the ambiance at Fu 1088, almost demanded proper etiquette.

What to Order: Braised Pork
What not to Order:

2 Pigs
Price Range 3 $/¥/NT

上海静安区镇宁路375号(愚园路口)+86 21-52397878

The Apartment [Shanghai] – closed

The Apartment is one my favorite lounges in Shanghai. Always a challenge for someone new to any city, is finding a decent place to hangout for drinks and chillaxin’.

Located in the off the new swanky, yet hidden, area on Yongfu and Fuxing road, in the Xuhui district, The Apartment is a cool lounge, that also serves food. But, I haven’t tried the food, though pundits on foursquare don’t recommend the pizza. Their outdoor rooftop lounge area is where their large pizza oven is located. Maybe one of these days, I will try the food.

After hiking up three elevator-less floors, you finally reach the great door. Once inside, you notice a few sitting areas with eclectic sofas and chairs. Toward the rear of the room, you see the an oversized lounge bed, made popular from the clubs in Vegas and New York. I only wish there were a few more of these beds. In the back, there’s an ignored area of regular tables for dining, which seems a bit out of place. I’d just make that area into a private party room, than pretend that people come for the food. As I mentioned earlier, there’s an outdoor lounge area, which probably has optimal use about 3, maybe 4 months out of the year. With the crazy Shanghai heat and bitter winters, The Apartment probably will only have high demand there in the short spring and autumn months.

Almost every night I’ve been there, there’s been a small band playing or a DJ. I like the DJ, but the band, which varies, is a hit or miss. One night, they were playing cover songs in a melancholy way, that it was almost hurting our group’s mood.

They offer bottle service and reservations for tables areas. They only have a couple of beers on tap and a bit more bottled. They have bottles of vodka, whiskey, and others. Personally, I’m a beer guy and almost anything else, except champagne.

Weekends get crowded fast, too. One thing is. . .this place is not place to pick up chicks, since most everyone that comes, has a table or comes with people. There isn’t a dance floor so, mingling might be a challenge. But if you have game, which I don’t, you might be able to score.

Though it seems I’ve complained a lot, I actually really like The Apartment. I know I’ll be back a lot. Other places I like in Shanghai are the Monkey Bar and El Coctel. If you have suggestions on other similar places, please let me know.

3 Pigs
Price Range 2 $/¥/NT

上海市徐汇区永福路47号3楼301室 (近复兴西路) +86 21 6437 9478
Room 301, 47 Yongfu Rd.(near Fuxing Rd.) 200031 Shanghai, China +86 21 6437 9478

Jesse 吉士 [Shanghai]

The best Shanghainese restaurant, arguably, is Restaurant Jesse or 吉士. With this site, I get always get asked a couple of questions. One of them being – “What is the best Shanghainese restaurant?” Jesse always comes to mind. With apologizes to 1221, 复兴汇 FuxinghuiFu 1088 福一零八八, and 夏味馆 Xia Restaurant of Shanghai, Jesse is in a class of its own.

I have read other sites about unfavorable reviews with Jesse. It is tough to understand why. But I can begin to guess that most of these negative reviews may not fully understand or grasp the unique nature of Shanghainese or Chinese cuisine. Texture is major component that non-Asians may not embrace. I am also included with some particular meats and dishes. I believe Jesse has a great dishes, regardless of texture or mouth feel.

What separates Jesse from others is the drunken crab and the steamed fishhead. The drunken crab is basically a raw crab served in a ceviche style without the lime & lemon juices. The meat is “cooked” in chinese wine, turning into a gelatinous texture. The meat appears to be grayish and translucent. Not boasting lots of meat, you bite into the cold crab and also suck at the same time. Keep in mind, that part of this experience is the unique texture. The roe also adds a creaminess to each bite. The crab gets sold out fast, so you’ll have to order ahead of time. The other dish, not typically found at other Shanghainese restaurants is the steamed fishhead. This river fish presented with dried seaweed covering the fish. The large white meat is tender and delicately flavored. Unfortunately, you’ll have to order this fish way ahead – about a day or so ahead. Keep in mind when you order these dishes, that taste, texture, and flavors are all part of this great experience.

As typical, we started off with some cold dishes, which are usually smaller appetizer ones. The most memorable one that we had was the salty chicken. This dish is served with shredded pieces of chicken. I love chicken and this one didn’t disappoint. We also had a chopped cucumber dish as well. These cold dishes are great for the hot summer nights.

Other great dishes that we had included the mini river poached shrimp with light soy vinegar dipping sauce. Don’t be fooled by these little bite sized and shelled shrimp which are tasty. Another favorite was the sticky rice stuffed dates. I would have assumed that these would be served as a dessert. But they came out with the other hot entrees.

Any Shanghainese meal isn’t complete with out the Hong Sau Ro – the braised pork. I wasn’t exactly sure which part of the pig was used. I have heard shoulder, as well as other parts, are used at Jesse. Regardless, this was favorite of mine. Often times, this dish is most representative of Shanghai cuisine. This is good, since this is so yummy. But this is bad, since many people consider other dishes to be quite sweet and heavy in sauce. Anyways. . .the braised pork is done well here.

Special thanks to Howard W, for arrange this get together at Jesse. Unfortunately, the dining space is small. There’s two small dinning rooms in this restaurant, with another side room, just outside. The restroom is especially small, as well. But it won’t matter after your great meal at Jesse. Remember to call early for reservations – Jess is so popular, that table are booked weeks in advance.

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What to Order: Drunken Crab, Fishhead, Poached Shrimp, and Braised Pork
What not to Order:

3 Pigs
Price Range 2 $/¥/NT

上海市徐汇区天平路41号 近淮海路, 地铁1号线徐家汇站 +86 21-62829260

41 Tianping Lu, near Huaihai Lu, Metro Line 1 Xujiahui Station, Shanghai +86 21-62829260