Friday, August 27, 2010

Jesse Restaurant 吉士酒家 (Shanghai)

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Yet another famous local joint for its traditional Shanghainese dishes. When it comes to fame, the amount of tourists somehow gives you a big picture of its popularity to a certain extend. At this place, I can hear more Cantonese and English then Mandarin being exchanged. So what exactly is Shanghainese cuisine? A very good question because it is a product / combination of several nearby regional (coastal) cuisines and it gradually transformed into its own category over the years. This is one of the key reasons I enjoy Shanghainese cuisine, for its diversity as well as its ability to appreciate different regional cuisines to distinct itself through continuous refinement. (There is a so-called New Jesse vs this "old" Jesse and I have been informed that they are different establishment?)



The place was rather small with a tiny entrance which leads down to a small basement dining area before you can see another stairs going up to another floor. The whole basement area which we were seated can hold about 4 - 5 tables tightly together. Not your typical idea of fine dining I guess.

We started off with some cold starters. The Vinegar-ed Jelly Fish was very firm to the bite which I enjoyed but the sauce was overly vinegary in my opinion.

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The Drunken Chicken was a delightful surprise, perhaps because of the strong Chinese wine used to marinate.  The meat was quite firm and very well marinated that the wine flavor was rich and deep to the last bite. Thumbs up indeed!

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Now the following was something new to me, Drunken Crab, RAW CRAB! As the name suggested, it was served by putting / marinating the raw crab into Chinese wines for a period of time and then served chilled. It was the first time I tried raw crab and it was something unexpected. The meat was soft and mushy like jelly and all I needed to do was to suck the meat out from the shell. Slimy can be another word to describe it but not necessary very appealing to all I suppose. The Chinese wine used was very strong but definitely a good way to start to meal with!

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If I recall correctly, the following dish was called stew crab meat with clear rice noodle sheet. Who cares what it was called, it was delicious! The texture was thick to a point that it was creamy and it resembled casserole to be for some reasons. The creamy texture together with the chewy clear rice paper noodle sheet complemented each other very well! Flavors were very rich and be warned that you should ignore calories or cholesterol when you consume this wonderful dish! I was told that this dish can be made with crab roe as well but usually during fall when hairy crab is in season.

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Stir-Fry Fresh River Shrimp was simply thumbs up! Not the usual dish because here they included the tail shell intact meaning you cannot enjoy them by the spoonful but one by one which was a nice change because I can truly appreciate the freshness of each single fresh shrimp.

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Deep Fried Fish with Sweet and Sour sauce was seriously sour in my opinion without much of the sweetness to it. It was the darker version of the sauce they used but it was simply too sour for my liking. The fish was nice with crunchy and crisp skin, soft and tender meat but the sauce was something I cannot really appreciate unfortunately.

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On the other hand, the Braised Sweet and sour Fatty pork belly was yum! The use of excessive sugar gave it the sweetness it should. Love the flavors and the meat was firm yet the soft and mushy fatty layer balanced the texture very well. One must put the whole thing in the mouth to chew to get the best of both worlds.

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For the Tomato and Crab Meat Soup, I would like to use a new word, splendid! Fresh Crab meat with just the right among of tomato to ensure the crab flavors to be the dominant flavors. The soup was rather thick in texture yet not overly filling because of the refreshing tomato.

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The dessert,  Sesame dumplings in rice wine, has to be something of a great disappointment. While the mini black sesame filled dumplings were  nice, the soup / rice wine was overly ...sour! It should carry hints of sourness due to the use of rice wine but not to this extend in my opinion. I could not finish the soup. Is it suppose to be this sour? I am really confused.

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Likes:

  • Stir-Fry Fresh River Shrimp - very fresh and sweet, sweetness from the freshness. 
  • Drunken Crab - Raw crab was something new to me, thumbs up! Texture is not for everyone though, the slimy texture. 
  • stew crab meat with clear rice noodle sheet - creamy and heart! Rich crab meat + roe flavors! 

Dislikes:

  • Sesame dumplings in rice wine - soup too sweet! 
  • Vinegar-ed Jelly Fish - again overly vinegary

Avg Spending: RMB 100 - 200 per person

Jesse Restaurant 吉士酒家 (Shanghai) 
41 Tianping Rd, Huai Hai Zhong Rd
天平路41号. 近淮海中路. Shanghai
Tel: +86 21 6282 9260


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5 comments:

Mochachocolata Rita said...

black sesame with something sour...ahem! they don't sound like they're the best of friends eh?

Jin said...

this is where i had my best meal on my recent shanghai trip. i love the crab with noodles and fresh river shrimps, along with 心太軟 and 蝦籽大烏參. wasn't able to try the drunken crab though, but happy to have a reason to go back to Jesse :)

Jason said...

@Rita: they can be a good combination! give it a try! ;)

@Jin: you tried 心太軟 here? I did not even know they have it here, darn! Excuse to go again! Planning to head there soon? We can set a date and meet there haha

Jin said...

Haha such a big fan of Shanghai, huh? How about a city we've never been to before? That would be fun! :)

Jason said...

@Jin: Qingdao? (Harbin is out of the question since someone has been there already!) Guam? Bora Bora?

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