Shanghai has gotten considerably colder in the past month, which is something my pampered face, spoiled and babied after years in Los Angeles, is not at all adapted to. With that, two things.
One, I gave myself the license to regrow my beard as long as possible. Which means I’ve gotten a lot of questions from security guards and people sharing elevators about where I am from.
Two, certain foods have jumped to the top of the list of cravings and necessities. If such a list did indeed exist, it would be namely exactly that: cravings and necessities. And the list would include bacon.
Think of said list as the Rick Dee’s top 40 of seasonal Chinese food in Shanghai. What’s hot right now is noodle soup, big steaming bowls of bone-warming broth and slurpable noodles (I like mine thin, but Ji Heng also offers a thicker, more dough-y variety) to warm up the various nooks and crannies that the cold has managed to seep into. Beef noodles are in general pretty popular in Shanghai, and this restaurant called Ji Heng around the corner from my place, does a mean beef brisket noodle soup, and also offers an array of soup noodles, small-plate appetizers, wontons, and other comfort foods. The soup is satisfying and flavorful, without being too thick or salty, even when I add my usual dollop of pickled veggies and chili. I usually go without cilantro, but that’s another available option.
The little side dishes are good accompaniments to the noodles, seasoned strongly and differently enough to stand out and actually enhance your noodle-slurping experience. The hard-boiled eggs are particularly good, and the garlicky sliced cucumbers are another personal favorite. The other dishes go well with an added element of spice: wontons and beef tendons come in a sheen of chili oil, with that distinct peppercorn spiciness, and the tofu (covered in chopped scallions) also comes with a side of chili dip.
The other thing I’ve really liked about Ji Heng is its prompt service and the consistency of the food; unlike some of the other places I’ve blogged about in Shanghai, I’ve been able to frequent Ji Heng a few times, and each time I’ve come away satisfied and ready to head back into the Shanghai winter.
Ji Heng Noodle House 吉亨面馆
1021 Kangding Lu, Shanghai (Jing’an) / 康定路1021号, 上海静安区