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My Top 5 Places to Eat in Shanghai

The good people over at Smartshanghai just profiled me for their Industry Nights series, where they tap people in the F&B industry for recommendations on where to eat and drink.  Here is the article, along with a mean mug.  Note: These aren’t actually my top 5 places, it’s hard to pick top places, and I always give different lists to different audiences.  But these are solid, and definitely some of my most frequent haunts.

[INDUSTRY NIGHTS]: JENNY GAO…

The co-founder of Baoism drops recommendations for rowdy all-night Korean, high-end Japanese beef, and serene vegetarian vibes.

Industry Nights is a semi-regular column featuring the haunts of chefs, restaurant owners, F&B managers and other marginally sane people with good eating recommendations.

Like the gua bao – those steamed buns stuffed with meats and fillings and folded over like a taco, which David Chang and Eddie Huang popularized in the west

Jing | 22.01.16 at 04:17 PM |
Jia Jia Tang Bao Jia Jia Tang Bao Jia Jia Tang Bao Jia Jia Tang Bao Lin Long Fang Lin Long Fang xiaolongbao Xiaoyang Shenjianbao
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Xiaolongbao Redux: Best Places for Soup Dumplings in Shanghai

What hasn’t been written about xiaolongbao, the humble Shanghainese soup dumpling? It is a marvel of engineering; skin thin enough to be translucent, pleated around seasoned pork and bursting at the seams with umami-rich soup.  Further enhanced with a dip in black vinegar and topped with thin slivers of ginger, it is consumed by daintily lifting by the top where the skin is thickest and raising to your lips in a soup spoon, lest any spillage occurs during consumption.  Living in Shanghai, the birthplace of xiaolongbao, I’m spoiled to be able to indulge in a basket whenever the craving strikes. And it happens more often than I’d like to admit.

Locals believe that a good xiaolongbao is in the ratio of skin, soup and meat. The thinner the skin and more plentiful the soup and meat, the better. But the perfect xiaolongbao is often elusive, a product of the nimble hands of young chefs who roll and pleat behind kitchen glass, affected …

Jing | 28.05.15 at 10:11 PM |
Ceramic ware made by Yu Zhi Lan in Jingdezhen 'Golden thread noodles' - hand cut noodles made with duck egg yolk, with highly prized Tibetan caterpillar fungus Yu Zhi Lan's handmade custom pottery from Jingdezhen 8 appetizers Five colour noodles with strange-flavoured sauce, and lamb stomach mushroom Corn fritter Deep sea cucumber in hot and sour broth
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Chengdu – Yu Zhi Lan

 

Fuchsia Dunlop deserves a lot of credit for being the only serious writer in the West who has consistently championed Chinese chefs over the years, and with beautifully evocative prose. Her coverage of Yubo and Dai Jianjun among others have ostensibly been responsible for launching these chef’s into the global limelight, and helped spawn a new wave of interest in China’s rich culinary heritage. Her latest story in FT about rising Chengdu chef Lan Guijun is no exception. I’m consistently impressed by her pulse on the Chengdu scene and intimacy with its key players despite being based in London.  Lan Guijun is a chef who has long been well-known amongst culinary aficionados in Chengdu, but only in the last few years morphed into his current incarnation; ambassador of refined Chinese gastronomy.  After disappearing off the scene in a long sabbatical during which time he studied traditional cuisine and the…

Jing | 28.09.14 at 06:33 PM |

Artisanal Food Producers in China: Wuyuan’s Song Feng Tsui

One of the most fun and interesting parts of the prep work for opening Baoism is discovering and talking to artisanal food producers.  We’ve been meeting with some established and small-scale organic food producers around Shanghai and are constantly discovering more.

There are many challenges facing small natural food producers in China including capital, logistics, distribution and supply constraints. Often consumers have never heard of them, don’t know that the option for artisanal food exists, and wouldn’t know where to buy it even if they did. These rural operations find their outlet through local markets, and small scale or high end distributors. Most of the perishable stuff never make it to the big cities.

For us, it is of utmost importance to find these artisans, whether oil producers, soy sauce or tofu makers, and promote and protect their craft, while educating China’s new generation on the art and heritage…

Jing | 21.05.14 at 04:26 PM
Jing Theory feature on CBNweekly Jing Theory feature on CBNweekly
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Journey of a Restaurateur in China

Apologies for the long hiatus on the blog. Like most people, my life seems to be a perpetual cycle of calendar alerts and deadlines these days, but I thought it was a good time for an update.

Last July, just before I turned 26, I quit my day job at one of the world’s most innovative design firms to focus on figuring out what I really wanted to do with my time. I have been lucky in my career; I’ve traveled the world and worked with amazing people on interesting and impactful projects, but I couldn’t escape the creeping sense of urgency to  slow down and face the ambiguity this question brought up in my mind.  I realized that I couldn’t wait for the answer to just come to me; there’s no moment of enlightenment when one just figures out what to do with their lives.  I knew I owed myself the same dedication and time as I had given to my jobs in the past, but that the reward in this case would be infinitely greater.  I can’t believe…

Jing | 07.04.14 at 01:39 PM |
Crudo Platter- raw fish, shellfish and crustaceans Slow cooked French-cut whole Australian Lamb Rack with roasted garlic and tomatoes on the side Slow cooked French-cut whole Australian Lamb Rack with roasted garlic and tomatoes on the side Freshly baked bread
Orata- Whole jet imported Dalian Sea Bream cooked in Sicilian sea salt crust Orata- Whole jet imported Dalian Sea Bream cooked in Sicilian sea salt crust Tortelli - home hand-crafted organic egg tortelli , Italian fennel pork sausage, ricotta and scamorza with fresh Italian “pacchetelle di pomodoro”, stracciatella and basil
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Capo on the Rockbund

A close contender  with Mercato for my favourite Italian restaurant in the city, Capo is the luxe-rustic shrine to Neapolitan cuisine by Yenn Wong (of JIA Hotels and a HK restaurant empire) and longtime collaborator, Chef Enzo Carbone (of Issimo, 208 Duecento Otto and Matto) Everything here just works, from the location in the cavernous attic of a historic redevelopment on the Rockbund  to its ‘cook house’ concept emphasizing premium ingredients and ‘back to the roots’ methods.

Designed by Neri & Hu and conceived by Carbone, the space is striking, imaginative; one of only a few destination restaurants on the Bund with no Bund view, and the place does not suffer from it. Low ceilings, dark corners and winding corridors evoke a sense of mystique, while hand-blown light fixtures and repurposed wood fill the space with a warm aura. Indeed, the  entire experience seems almost religious. Enzo tells me his…

Jing | 22.02.14 at 11:40 PM |

JINGTHEORY on Fresh Off the Boat Shanghai Episode

I had the pleasure of taking the human panda Eddie Huang around Shanghai when he was here in the summer. The result is in the latest Fresh Off the Boat episode, in which we sample #veryrare marsupial poop and I host a hongshaorou cook off between Eddie and Shanghainese chef and a dear friend of mine Anthony Zhao.

Now hongshaorou is the ultimate Chinese smackdown dish, and both chefs produced their own unique versions, Anthony’s more traditional Shanghai style and Eddie’s a fiery Hunan version. Who reigned supreme?

Watch the vid to find out.

See Pt 1 here: http://www.vice.com/fresh-off-the-boat/shanghai-part-1

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Chengdu Instead of Beijing: NYMag's winter travel feature Salt and Sichuan peppercorn cookies that literally melt in your mouth, the perfect balance of sweet, savoury, and numbing. perfect noodles slathered in an elixir of vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, and plenty of chilli. Mala pig brain 'mapo' tofu: spicy, tingling, wonderous silky textures.
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Jingtheory on New York Magazine: Chengdu Travel

The question I get asked most frequently is, “What do I eat when I go to Chengdu?” For a food-crazed city like Chengdu, the answer to that question is boundless. A place where ancient food culture meets the dizzying pace of new dining trends, and where the term ‘foodie’ makes no distinction at all because everyone is a certified 吃货, its no wonder that Chengdu’s food scene is constantly evolving. New fly restaurants and snack vendors set up shop every day, but few have the staying power of some of Chengdu’s long-standing 老字号 time-honoured establishments.

I was recently interviewed by New York Magazine (!!!) on three of my favourite spicy dishes in Chengdu. Here’s the excerpt

Thanks to its famous, fiery cuisine, Chengdu was named a UNESCO City of Gastronomy in 2010. Local food blogger Jenny Gao ranks her top dishes from kinda to insanely spicy.

Mildly spicy:
Salt and Sichuan peppercorn…

Jing | 07.11.13 at 02:11 AM |
Mercato Interior Mercato's giant pizza oven was custom made in Italy Mercato Interior Mercato Dining Table Mercato Interior Mercato Warm Seafood Salad King fish carpacchio
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Mercato and Shanghai’s Farm-to-Table Movement

In just two short years since opening, Mercato is already an institution on the Bund and a fixture of Shanghai’s dynamic restaurant scene.  Jean-George’s first foray into coastal Italian cuisine and third venture in Shanghai is his most casual but perhaps most successful mainland China venture to date. 

Designed by Shanghai-based Neri&Hu, internationally renowned for their interior work at The Waterhouse, Mercado presents an upscale  atmosphere that is at once old-world–rustic and port-city-industrial. Stripping down a century of renovations to the building’s bare structural elements, Neri&Hu reveal the Three on the Bund’s original steel columns and complement them with reclaimed wood, sensuous leather and intimate lighting. The resulting atmosphere feels edgy and modern, unfinished yet organic, an industrial chic that is completely unique on the glamour strip of the Bund. 

Helming …

Autumn Soil. Photo by Scott Wright Limelight Studios Ultraviolet photo by Scott Wright Limelight Studios Descending underground for our first course Picnic in the park Drama in the Kitchen Ultraviolet Kitchen Photo by Scott Wright Limelight Studios
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Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet

Expectations are high when stepping into the black-lit altar of Paul Pairet. If your name is on the list for one of the ten coveted seats at Ultraviolet, you have probably been waiting three months for this evening. This is how far in advance the restaurant is usually booked. It is likely your birthday, or a special occasion, one that you wouldn’t mind splurging on. Since its opening in 2012, Ultraviolet’s price per head has increased 25% to 2,500 RMB, or $408 USD at last conversion.

An email directs you to Mr & Mrs Bund, Pairet’s other modernist French eatery on the Bund at 6:30 to be shuttled to ‘a secret location’. You sip on a glass of pear cider and size up your dinner companions for the night, a group of immaculately dressed strangers. A palpable sense of anticipation builds with every passing minute.

Already, elements are at work, influencing in your mind what Pairet calls “psycho taste”, the preconceived…

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