Although I grew up in the USA, I am a native of Shanghai. During a recent visit to my parents’ house, I ate dinner with extended family in Shanghai at Nan Ling Restaurant (南伶). My dad can be particular about his food at times, and this is one of his favorite local Shanghainese restaurants at the moment. I had high hopes.
We booked a private room for good ambience and privacy. My dad, being a frequent patron, is friendly with most of the staff, and their service was extremely attentive and kind.
BYOB! Dad, the wine enthusiast, is always prepared.
For cold appetizers, we ordered five dishes: smoked fish, potato salad, scallion chicken, ma lan dou (Kalimeris with beancurd), and one of my personal favorites, dou ban su (smashed green broad beans). Every dish tasted really great. The only one, in my opinion, that could be improved is the smoked fish as it was a bit too sweet and smoked dry for my taste. The scallion chicken, dou ban su, and potato salad were my favorites and all “must try’s”.
For the main course, we selected a variety of scrumptious dishes from a menu, which was packed with a variety of choices. Some of the standout dishes included sautéed freshwater shrimps, battered yellow croaker fillet, and stewed pork ball with crabmeat.
The sheng jian bao was also quite nice…although bigger than what I am accustomed to. Let me warn you now to take EXTRA caution with literally every bite, as there is a large amount of delicious soup hiding in the dumpling and also within the fluffy dough of the skin itself. Otherwise, you may get squirted from a random direction. Painful…but delicious.
My mom was a fan of the dessert, which was a red-bean paste pancake. It was not too sweet and had the crispness of a spring roll with the bean paste inside.
Here is a more visual demonstration for you all:
From top to bottom, left to right: Mashed green broad beans 青豆瓣酥 (10/10), Kalimeris with bean curd 马兰豆 (8.5/10), Scallion Chicken 葱油鸡 (9.5/10), Potato salad 土豆色拉 (10/10), Smoked fish Shanghai style 老上海熏鱼 (5/10)
Nan Ling Roast Duck南伶烤鸭 (8.5/10)…very tasty!
Sautéed Freshwater Shrimps 清炒河虾仁 (10/10). One of the most well-done version of this familiar Shanghainese dish that I can remember! This is river shrimp, as opposed to the typical ocean prawns you get elsewhere. Ultra-tender and light. I liked that they added little fresh peas on top.
Battered Yellow Croaker Fillet 苔菜拖黄鱼 (10/10). I LOVE YELLOW CROAKER and I LOVE THIS DISH. It may be visually strange, but the battered was flavored with a light fragrance of seaweed. A unique dish that I’ve only had while in Shanghai.
Beef with Oyster Sauce (蚝油牛肉）7.5/10. Solid dish. The meat was tender.
Steamed Marble Goby 笋壳鱼。 Quite good, although I’m not a fan of steamed fish in general. I’m not going to rank this one since it wouldn’t be a fair rating to those who love steamed fish.
Stewed Pork Ball with Crabmeat 蟹粉狮子头 (9.5/10). This type of meatball is referred to as Lion’s Head, and is a quintessential Shanghai restaurant dish. This one was a bit different from the usual dish that is stewed in soy sauce. The broth was comforting, tasty, and light….served well as a soup dish.
Noodles mixed with scallion oil & soy sauce开洋葱油拌面 (8/10). A satisfying end to every good Shanghainese meal.
Pan-fried pork bun with crabmeat 蟹粉生煎 (8/10). These were actually the size of the typical baozi. HUGE.
Red-bean paste pancake 豆沙锅饼 (9/10). I enjoyed these.
It is impressive when you order over 15 dishes at a restaurant, and almost all of them satisfy you in some special way. That was my experience with this restaurant. The worst dish of the night was still above average. You can’t go wrong at a place like that!
~~Overall Experience 9/10~~
Address: S3-01 Jing’an Jiali Center, No.1238 Yan’an Middle Road, Jing’an District, Shanghai, China
Hours: 11:00am – 2:00pm ; 5:30pm – 9:00pm
Cost (per person): 200 RMB/ $30
Phone: +86 21 6467 7381
Date Visited: 3/28/17