Ginger, a favorite modern Asian restaurant among Shanghai foodies, is embarking on a new venture — this time, from modern Asian toward modern Chinese.
The interior is dimly lit, beautifully appointed with mood lights and vintage Shanghai knickknacks. (Photos: Shine.cn)
Long-time Singaporean restaurateur Betty Ng, the creative mind behind Ginger, on the leafy Xingguo Road, recently found an ideal space on Donghu Road to launch her new food concept — a fusion of regional Chinese culture in dishes with her own personal twist and interpretation.
Chili and mint chicken, peanuts
Ng has named her new restaurant, Dao Jiang Hu, which is a Shanghainese colloquial term that means “messing around or jokingly stirring up gossip in a fun way.”
The restaurant’s logo shows two Shanghainese mamas, hair up in curlers, waiting to welcome anyone into their longtang, or alleyway, to Dao Jiang Hu.
The 120-seat indoor dining space is dimly lit, beautifully appointed with mood lights, exudes a cozy, mysterious atmosphere and includes vintage Shanghai knickknacks, as well as bold, colorful paintings by Ng’s friend Basmat. Diners can expect a series of interesting lineups where familiar food takes on a modern twist, with the intimate vibe evoking memories of those younger days.
Ng knows how to add a fun twist to classic Chinese dishes, making some fun flavor and texture combinations, as well as beautiful presentations. It’s no surprise that a lot of her inspiration comes from years of traveling in China with her professional skills trained in Tokyo.
“We think of a modern Chinese kitchen as in the food style, drinks, space ambience, music and service as ‘one’ experience,” said Ng. “Like Ginger, our food is never too heavy or oily, free of MSG, yet I’ve managed to preserve original Chinese flavors and enhance tastes by adding some foreign ingredients and Western cooking techniques such as sous vide for meat dishes. The emphasis of seasonal ingredients is also prevalent.”
Each dish I tried, from starters to mains, was perfectly executed, with a lot of emphasis on the juxtaposing flavors and textures while retaining Chinese roots. Some of the highlights include lotus chicken in rice crust, baked filled with shiitake and Yunnan ham sticky rice (188 yuan), deep-fried yuxiang spring rolls with pork, mushrooms and mozzarella (48 yuan), barbecued iberico pork collar, lotus bun (68 yuan), kongpao mushrooms, chilli crisps, leek, hazelnuts (68 yuan), mapo tofu with feta cheese crumbs (58 yuan) and dandan noodles (38 yuan). A gluten-free option is also available due to today’s new lifestyle change.
Ng invited Courage Chuang, former bar manager of W Taipei, to develop a Chinese-inspired cocktail menu that is delicious and makes a nice change to serve along with the Chinese food menu. “Our intention of Chinese modern kitchen is to provide a chic and cool space to dine, relax and have fun with friends and family,” Ng said.
Opening hours: 11:30am-3pm, 5:30pm-11pm (weekdays); 11:30am-11pm (weekends)
Address: 20 Donghu Rd, Shanghai
Average price: 220 yuan (US$29.97)