New Shanghai Restaurant... specializes in Beijing and Szechwan cuisines. New Shanghai has gone through multiple incarnations over the years. So when owners Andy Chen, Frank Xing and Andy Xu purchased the business in fall 2008, they retained the English name so as to not confuse longtime customers. But the restaurant's Chinese name, Jing Chuan, is more reflective of the menu, which is remarkable for its duality.
Two chefs share the kitchen. Yu Shihe hails from Tianjin, about 40 minutes from Beijing by high-speed train. Zhuo Bangxian is from Sichuan. They have very different styles of cooking. "Beijing style food is a little bit heavy..." Yu said. "We like our food spicier," Zhuo said. "We use a lot of pepper." Indeed, in Beijing, with its dry, hot summers and cold winters, residents favor hearty fare, and dumplings, noodles and pancakes. While in humid Sichuan, chilies are a popular ingredient because they're believed to counteract the region's dampness. Not that all of Zhuo's dishes are hot and spicy. He makes a tea-smoked duck that he rubs with salt and powdered cinnamon, grills and finally smokes over black tea leaves in a covered wok. You won't taste a trace of pepper. And Yu makes a dish he calls "numbing hot shredded bamboo shoots" with fresh bamboo shoots and fiery chili oil. It is an adequate description.
Diners at New Shanghai are urged to order from both sides of the menu. Szechwan dishes include twice-cooked pork belly - crisp strips of bacon, stir-fried with slivered leeks and red pepper flakes - and rabbit hot pot szechwan-style, a savory stew of rabbit, shiitakes, bamboo and ginger. Or order Beijing specialties like braised pork loin, slowly simmered in soy, sugar, rice wine, garlic and scallions, or the oddly translated "leek case" - flaky pastry turnovers stuffed with leeks and scrambled egg.
"We recommend customers (make a meal of) dishes from both Beijing and Sichuan," said manager May Xiong. The chefs may differ in culinary style, but they concur when it comes to quality. New Shanghai serves up some of the best food in Chinatown.
-- By Mat Schaffer, Published on Boston Herals on June 24, 2009