[Shanghai] Shanghai Girl Eats x Shanghai Daily Secret Private Dining
The only thing I knew going into this dinner was what I would be eating and who I would be eating with (x Shanghai Daily Secret). As for the venue, I got an address and I showed up. But not before wandering around the rows of Jing’an lane houses creepily peeking into residential windows trying to find dinner. And I wasn’t the only one:
When we finally did find this place, we walked into the smell of our Shanghai childhood (3 of 4 girls grew up in Shanghai… our outlier: Wisconsin). What was cooking tonight? Home sweet Shanghainese food. We were greeted by Yilei, who runs White Studio Private Dining and invites a friend (the kind with culinary experience) to cook for dining guests. The concept is simple: Yilei & Co cook and you have the space all to yourself.
Here is Yilei preparing her contribution to tonight’s menu. The rest are cooked by her guest chef in the kitchen outside the dining room.
This is the beautiful entrance that none of us walked through because we geniuses somehow all ended up wandering through the backdoor.
The patio will be great for pre and post dinner drinks in warm weather.
A custom menu for the night filled with Shanghainese food.
头盘冷拼 Cold Dishes
Beancurd & Cucumber 豆皮戏黄瓜
Tofu with pidan (preserved egg) 皮蛋豆腐
Shanghai style braised duck 上海大酱鸭 with delicious sauce slightly turned into jelly.
Not long after digging into the starters, Yilei offered us some huang jiu (yellow wine) 黄酒 because when eating Shanghainese food, drink as the Shanghainese do. It was warm and soothing.
时鲜热炒 Warm Dishes
Sauteed shrimp with carrots and peas 水晶虾仁
Stir-fried snow peas 干煸荷兰豆
Chinese cabbage & mushrooms 香菇菜心
Pan-fried beltfish 干煎大带鱼
A major highlight was the braised pork belly 郑阿姨红烧肉, which was deeply saturated with thick sauce cooked for three hours. The ultimate Shanghainese home-style dish for me and cooked so superbly. One friend remarked, “I feel like old people can cook this.” Well yes, because they have all the time to sit around and slow cook.
Scrambled egg with fungus and sweet dried sausage 香肠木耳跑蛋. Simple yet so good. I especially love this type of sweet dried sausage.
The borscht soup 罗宋汤 was slightly sweeter than what I am used to compared to my mother’s version, which will always be the best in my mind.
The fried rice 静安蛋炒饭 was perfection. Tip: the best fried rice is made using leftover refrigerated white rice that has had time to dry and harden slightly. Freshly cooked rice straight out of the cooker is too soft and moist, which will become soggy and not mix well with the oil. The sweet dried sausage from the scrambled egg and fungus dish reappeared and completed the fried rice. (P.S. that’s our Shanghai Daily Secret friend’s hand.)
点心 Dim Sum
Fried spring rolls 油炸春卷 filled with cabbage, mushroom, and shredded pork. All the ladies were too full to eat at this point but I plowed on with three of these.
A recording was playing in the background throughout dinner and when we asked, Yilei said was her friend. And then her friend actually showed up in the flesh to entertain us for a bit. This dinner just went from Shanghainese to hipster.
Glutinous rice balls in fermented rice wine 水果酒酿丸子 with bananas and apples in the mix.
And lastly, pomelo with pop rocks just for fun.