Anyway, a few weeks back, I went for a food tasting at these authentic Shanghainese restaurant. Its like a 茶餐厅 you would see in Shanghai. I have never been to Shanghai, so I got JJ to share abit of his insights with me, since he frequent China.
Just a little background about Shanghainese food that he shared with me.
Shanghai is located in between the two other major cities of china, Beijing in the north and Guangzhou in the south. Its cuisine (also known as ben bang cai- literally, "local food") is like a mix of the styles in its two other peer cities.
It borrows from the south the habit of consuming rice with dishes (in the north they prefer noodles), and of eating dumplings with thinner, almost translucent skin. The famous shanghai xiaolongbaos, for instance, are much more delicate than the jiaozi that you normally find in Beijing. In a practice that started in the south, where the food is prepared in much more elegant and bite-sized portions, "cold" (precooked) tapas-sized dishes are also served as appetizers and "hot" dishes are served as the main part of the meal.
The influence of the north on shanghai cuisine is obvious in the strong sauces that dress almost every dish. You don't get simple clear soy-sauces like in Cantonese food; instead, it's almost like western food, where most dishes are topped off with flavourful sauces to complement the dishes.
Another key component in shanghainese food is vinegar. Most dishes, whether "cold" or "hot", will come with vinegar either as a dip or already stir-fried into the dish. Xiaolongbaos,for instance, come with vinegar, not soy sauce, and thinly slices of Ginger as an accompaniment.
Another famous dish, braised pork, is cooked with all three typical condiments- sugar, vinegar, and that staple of all Chinese food, soy sauce.
What I liked about these type of restaurants is that you can order a whole table of food in bit-sized and have a variety of choices. Best to dined in big groups, where all can have their beloved food.
I felt that Eastern restaurant is a reasonably-priced bistro in Central @ Orchard (prices are similar to xin wang- less than ten dollars per dish). I tried both the fried rice and the zhajiang mian, and actually preferred the noodles to the rice- the flavor of the fried rice was too mild for my personal preference. In fact, the noodles were my favourite dish. As you can probably tell, flavor is way more important to me than authenticity.
You may visit their website at The Eastern Restuarant or "Like" their Facebook page.
The Eastern Restaurant (Centrepoint) Pte Ltd
176 Orchard Road
Credits: To JJ for all the information about Shanghainese Food
Photos are all taken from Eastern Restaurant FB
Thank you Dennis and The Eastern Restaurant for the invite.