Lan Zhou Zheng Zong La Mian –Interesting Chinese Muslim Hand Pulled Noodles

Lan Zhou Zheng Zong La Mian (兰州正宗牛肉拉面 ) was a place we happened to just stop by when I was in Shanghai, my friend and I were looking for something quick to eat by his apartment and we stopped by this place because it looked interesting and it was really close to his apartment.   It was a run down little shop that had lots of pictures inside with all of their dishes.

I’m not sure where the guys who ran the place were from, but I’m pretty sure they weren’t Han Chinese as they looked sort of Chinese, but were darker in complexion and looked more Central Asian. They also spoke a very strange dialect that I’ve never heard before and were Muslim.

The menu read like a typical Lan Zhou type noodle soup shop, but the spicing was way different than normal Chinese spicing.

Here’s what we got:

Red Braised Beef Noodle Soup (Hong Shao Niu Rou Mian):

The noodles were freshly hand-pulled and had a very good al dente texture.  The broth and the meat were way different in the way they spiced them.  They had a lot of different spices in them including cumin, it really didn’t even taste Chinese; the flavor was much more almost Middle Eastern or Central Asian.  It was very interesting.  I thought it was a bit too salty and the beef wasn’t quite as tender as it should be, but overall it was reasonably tasty.  I would say that I prefer the regular style though all things being equal. 7.5/10

Stir Fried Knife Cut Noodles (Chao Dao Shao Mian):

My friend got this dish, it was stir fried knife cut noodles.  The noodles were very good again and were cut a bit on the thick side, but I liked them that way.  The sauce was exactly the same sauce that was in the beef noodle soup I had.  It was a bit on the salty side as well, but I thought it was a bit better than my beef noodle soup. 7.75/10

Scrambled Egg With Tomato (Xi Hong Shi Chao Ji Dan):

This is a pretty typical dish in Taiwan, but they probably make it in China as well.  We ordered it because we both like the dish.  The preparation was similar to normal, but the spicing was quite a bit different again utilizing the same spices that were in the other two dishes.  This was probably the best dish of the three, doesn’t look like much, but it was good.

Overall, it wasn’t amazing, but it was pretty good.  It was definitely interesting as it was unlike any noodle place I’ve ever been to.  I forgot what the address was.

Xin Da Lu China Kitchen – Good Upscale Peking Duck Restaurant in Shanghai

新大陆中国厨房 Xin Da Lu China Kitchen is located at the Hyatt on the Bund.  The Hyatt is a very nice hotel on the Bund in Shanghai (check out their rooftop bar, it has a great view of Shanghai at night).  Unlike most of the restaurants I chose to eat at in Shanghai, Xin Da Lu is very upscale.  It’s got a very sleek, modern design, dim lights and high vaulted ceilings.  The décor looks like an upscale restaurant in NY in fact it’s probably a bit nicer than most.  All of these things would normally scare me away from a Chinese restaurant.  However, I wanted to treat my friends since I’d been staying with them and they’d been taking me everywhere and Xin Da Lu came recommended from some friends as a good place to have good Peking duck in a nice atmosphere (it was also recommended on chowhound).

The service was again pretty poor.  They kept rotating servers and the servers were slow to respond to requests although it was passable service.

Xin Da Lu specializes in Peking duck and they also have a lot of Shanghainese and Hangzhou dishes on their menu as well.

Here’s what we got:

Peking Duck:

This is what Xin Da Lu is famous for along with their Beggar’s chicken (fyi, you need to pre-order either dish).  They had shipped in a big Peking duck oven from Beijing, which you can see in their open kitchen and hired a couple chefs from Beijing to man it, so the duck was supposed to be among the most authentic in Shanghai. The skin was excellent, crispy and very flavorful, thought this was among the better skin I’ve ever had.  The meat was pretty good, but I thought it was a bit on the dry side.  The pancakes were good, but not amazing.  The sauce was great (I believe it was tian mian jiang i.e. sweet bean sauce), I actually had to get more because they barely give you any, but it really complemented the duck in the pancake with the spring onions.  Overall, it was quite good although not transcendent.  8.25/10 (8.75/10 for the skin and sauce, 8/10 for everything else)

Fried Dumplings (Guo Tie):

These were the most beautiful guo tie I’ve ever seen.  There are five of them and they are served together with a sort of web connecting them (see the picture below).  I was concerned they were going to be a complete gimmick because they looked so pretty, but they were surprisingly good.  Nice skin, crispy bottom, good flavorful interior and well made.  8.5/10

Tomato and Pork Rib Soup:

We wanted a soup, so we got this.  It was a light tomato and pork broth soup with chunks of tomato and pork ribs.  The pork ribs were good, not melt in your mouth falling apart ribs, but good nonetheless.  The broth was flavorful although not outstanding.  7.75/10

Snow Pea Leaves (Dou Miao):

These are the smaller and skinnier dou miao that you get in Asia that I like a lot.  This dish was on the soupy side with large chunks of garlic in it with a light sauce that didn’t overpower the dou miao.  It was pretty good.  7.75/10

Soup Dumplings (Xiao Long Bao):

These were surprisingly very good.  The skins were nice and delicate.  The soup was light, not overly oily and the filing was good.  I was very pleasantly surprised because we actually just ordered them because we weren’t sure what to order.  8.25/10

Overall, I thought it was very good although I wasn’t blown away by the food (for comparisons sake if this restaurant was in the US this would be considered an amazing restaurant).  It is however a beautiful restaurant and I would come back if I had the chance.

1/F, Hyatt on the Bund, 199 Huangpu Lu
Phone: 6393-1234 ext. 6318

Di Shui Dong – A Very Good Hunan Restaurant in Shanghai

Di Shui Dong滴水洞饭店 was the first dinner I had in Shanghai.  My friend’s girlfriend recommended this restaurant, which serves Hunan food.  I believe it’s a pretty well known although some people told me it’s a bit touristy / overhyped.

It’s located on the second floor in a pretty busy neighborhood in Shanghai.  The interior is mainly wooden and has red and white checkered table clothes on the tables.  Honestly, it really doesn’t look like a Chinese restaurant at all.  If you got rid of all the Chinese people and replaced them with Americans, it would look like some American BBQ joint.

The service was not that good, but unfortunately that is a common trait in Shanghai restaurants.  Unlike Chinese restaurants in America where the service is gruff, but very fast, the service in Shanghai is gruff and slow.  My friends who live in Shanghai attribute the poor service to the fact that no one tips, so the servers could careless one way or the other whether the service is good or not.

Luckily, the food was quite good. Here’s what we got:

Spicy Pig’s Feet:

I ordered this as I like pig’s feet and so does my friend’s GF (although my friend does not).  This came out in a bowl in a spicy brown sauce with chilis, sliced ginger, green onions, garlic and maybe a few other condiments.  The sauce was excellent, not gloppy, very flavorful and not too salty.  The pig’s feet were great, flavorful and very tender.  Even my friend who doesn’t like pig’s feet thought this was pretty good.  I liked it a lot.  Unfortunately, my picture came out kind of crappy. 8.5/10


My friend’s GF ordered this dish. It was broccoli that I believe had been boiled and then lightly sautéed with oil, chilis, salt and garlic.  It looks very plain, but it was awesome.  This was the best broccoli I’ve had in a long time.  Not too oily, the garlic and chilis really gave it some good flavor.  It was a very simple dish, but executed really well. 8.5/10

Cabbage with Chilis and Ham:

This was shredded cabbage that had been sautéed with oil, chilis, tiny chunks of a salted ham and a bit of salt.  Another good dish, surprisingly it wasn’t too salty and the cabbage was cooked really well.  It’s a pretty self-explanatory dish, but I liked it. 8.25/10

Cumin Ribs:

This is the house specialty dish, specifically my friend’s GF wanted to come here to get this.  It’s big beef ribs that are dry rubbed in cumin, chili flakes and some other spices.  I believe they might have been fried because there was oil on the outside although they weren’t oily at all really.  The flavor of the spices was excellent (I really like cumin) and the meat tasted amazing.  However, while the meat was tender it was slightly overcooked, which my friend’s GF confirmed she said that the meat is normally more tender.  Overall though these were still really good. 8.5/10 (could’ve been a 9/10 if the meet was more tender)

Spicy Intestines and Bamboo Shoots:

I ordered this as the pictures looked good on the menu.  Another simple dish of sliced bamboo, intestines, chilis, green onions and some other spices sautéed in oil.  Intestines were very clean tasting and the bamboo was really nice.  This was another good dish. 8.5/10

Whole Fried Fish:

This was recommended by one of our servers.  This was the surprise of the night.  It was a whole fish fried and then covered with a mixture of pickled vegetables, fried garlic, chilis and green onions that was made into a sort of crunchy paste.  This was so good, the outside was crispy, but the fish meat was nice and tender and the mixture they put on top was really good (I was eating it with a spoon after we finished the fish).  This was my favorite dish of the night. 9/10

Overall, I thought Di Shui Dong was very good (better than anything I’ve had in the US).  Supposedly, there are some much better Hunan restaurants in Shanghai and I wish I had more time to try everything I wanted to try, but I’ll be back and I guess I’ll have to try them then.

2/F, 56 Maoming Nan Lu,
Phone: 6253-2689