Good Eats

Niao’an 鸟安 @ Shanghai

Shinya Shokudō (深夜食堂) also known in English as “Midnight Diner” is a Japanese manga series by Yarō Abe 安培夜郎. The series is about a late night diner which is opened from midnight to dawn and the stories of its odd-ball patrons. Since then, it has been used as a description for really popular supper places. Here’s one I stumbled on accidentally in one of my frequent trips to Shanghai.

It is difficult to find this Japanese restaurant. In China, you would have accustomed to a glitzy restaurant façade with a lot of bling bling neon sign. Here, there is a tiny door in front with a sign that’s so tiny that that if you blink, you would miss it completely. The moment you arrived, you would have to bow down to enter the front door that’s made deliberately tiny, evoking the traditional Japanese style. Upon stepping into the door, you are transported into another world, a proper Izakaya in Japan.

Japanese expats know this place as Toriyasu とり安 (鸟安), which can also be translated as cheap. The dinner here would not be cheap. And it is also not the lively and boisterous yakitori place that you would be accustomed to in Japan.

Everyone at the bar table went about business quietly while large groups of locals came because of its reputation for a 打卡店 (a shop that has been made famous by social media that you need to have selfies taken here, also known as Da Ka 打卡).

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The place is an Izakaya specialising in yakitori. All parts of the chicken are available here

  • ささみ Sasami – lightly grilled with salt and garnished with wasabi
  • 肝類 Kimo-rui  – chicken heart and liver grilled with sauce
  • 砂肝 Sunagimo – chicken gizzards grilled with salt
  • 葱巻 Negi maki – grilled chicken slices withleeks
  • 皮身 Kawa – chicken skin grilled with salt
  • もも肉 Momoniku – chicken thigh with leeks in sweet sauce (no photo)
  • 手羽 Teba – chicken wing grilled with salt

The quality of the chicken is way below the standards in Japan, but it is still very tasty due to the expert grilling and seasoning by the chefs. I would skill the gizzards, hearts and liver – not worth it as the innards are very poor quality. They also offer a lot of other grilled items like gingko, shishito, bacon wrapped enoki, bacon wrapped mushrooms, etc.

But my favourite was the chicken wings stuffed with mentaiko. Not exactly a grilled item, it was really tasty and unique, something I have not found in other Izakaya or Yakitori places.

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One of Shanghai best solo dinner that you can find if you are seated at the bar. Watching the chefs at work, smelling the beautiful smokey aroma of burnt fats just make you hungry for more. Lacks the friendliness and liveliness of the real Tokyo style, but hey you’re in China. This is one of the better offerings of yakitori in Shanghai. Yes, I will be back.

Niao’an 鸟安
172号-174 Huichuan Rd, Zhong Shan Gong Yuan, Changning Qu, China
Tel : +86 21 5241 1677

Date Visited : Jun 2019

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