Shanghai: New Jesse 新吉士

11 Nov

On my first trip to Shanghai we met some friends at Jesse in Xintiandi since I wanted to try Shanghainese food, and the original branch (Old Jesse) was as expected fully booked given the last minute reservation. We were lucky enough to snag a reservation at the Xintiandi branch but we still ended up waiting for about 15 mins before we could get seated. Unfortunately I don’t remember the specific prices as it’s been some a few months but I do remember how the food tastes – good!

We started with ji mao cai (literal translation: chicken hair vegetable) and xin tai ruan (jujubes stuffed with mochi). I like that particular veggie because it’s crunchy and sweet and we don’t get it in Singapore. I can easily polish off a plate! Xin tai ruan is more of an appetiser than dessert even though it’s sweet (sugar glazed), and it was surprisingly addictive. Kinda like eating candy that also functioned as a staple. It was served piping hot though it doesn’t look like it – beware as I almost burnt my tongue. A must try in Shanghai!

Next we had silken tofu with crab roe and the deep fried river shrimp. The crab tofu dish still tasted so luscious and creamy, especially when spooned over rice. A winner! The shrimps were sweet too (unlike the big prawns we have in Singapore) and you could eat them whole with the shells. They’re fried in spices and probably a lot of salt and hence were super addictive – I ended up eating them like fries.

On to the main highlight of the night – hong shao rou (red braised pork belly) – whose heightened popularity is probably because it was one of Chairman Mao’s favourite foods. Each piece of pork is coated in soy sauce, sugar and Shaoxing wine, and is made up of these components: a thin layer of chewy crunchy skin, an extremely thick layer of jelly like fat and a much less sinful layer of lean meat. I must admit I’m not a fan of pork belly (at least not excessively fatty ones used in hong shao rou) and didn’t enjoy this as much as the average person would, but this dish was definitely melt in your mouth, unctuous, and I guess quintessentially Shanghai. It’s probably best to order this with a few friends around as after a while the sweetness and the fattiness would get a bit cloying.

Also not pictured was the chicken soup, which was served in a claypot like the one above and consisted of a whole chicken with some goji berries and herbs. Though simple, it was super delicious because of the flavourful free range (or more like village in the China context) chicken. Really made me wonder what kind of factory produced chicken that I have been eating in Singapore. My male companions had so much of it and I only ended up with a few spoonfuls despite the huge pot – yes it’s that good!

Despite Jesse in Xintiandi being a modern jazzed up branch of the original (I was skeptical as to whether it would taste the same), I did have a very positive dining experience (including service) and made a mental note to try Old Jesse the next time I was back in Shanghai. Did Old Jesse live up to its reputation of being the best Shanghainese restaurant in Shanghai and was it significantly better than Jesse? You can read about it here.

Price: $$ (~600 RMB for 4 pax, but we did have quite a lot of food)
Location: No.9 Xin Tian Di Complex Tai Cang Road
Website: http://www.xinjishi.com

One Response to “Shanghai: New Jesse 新吉士”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Shanghai: Jesse 老吉士, French Concession « chow & the city - November 25, 2011

    […] mentioned in my previous post here, I had a good experience at New Jesse on my last trip to Shanghai and wanted to try the original […]

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