One part of Shanghai I have not been to is Chongming Island. But I have tasted much of Chongming’s finest vegetables and produce.
Chongming Island 崇明岛
Chongming Island 崇明岛, meaning “lofty bright island”, is quite an interesting place. It is administered by Shanghai Municipality on one side, and Jiangsu Province on the other. Go figure.
Chongming Island National Geopark is located on Shanghai’s side of Chongming Island. Created in 2005 as part of a broader conservation effort, the park provides a great place observe the tidal forces at work in the Yangtze River Estuary. Chongming Island is reputed to be the world’s largest fluvial island and it is clear to see how the ecology of the Yangtze River is integral to life on the island.
These days, the island functions both as a public recreation area as well as the food production for Shanghainese. Whereas the island was previously only connected to the mainland by ferry service, the Shanghai Yangtze Bridge and Tunnel now connects Chenjia in southeastern Chongming with Shanghai via Changxing and the Chongqi Bridge connects Chenjia to Qidong in southeastern Jiangsu.
Chongming Private Dining
Chongming has developed into an agricultural heavyweight in terms of production for consumption, a far cry from its origin as an isolated farming community. Many thought Chongming dining would be mainly rustic, family cooking 农家乐, but using the fine produce one can enjoy sophisticated Shanghainese fine dining.
As we settled to our table, we were presented with three snacks as lunch was prepared. The sugar-coated peanuts reminded me of kacang puteh that Dad would buy for me whenever we went to the movies. My favourite was the almond brittles, I would love to buy them for Chinese New Year treats, if gatherings are allowed next year.
These Chinese pork ribs were so tender that the meat was almost melting off from the bone! It is called Wuxi Pork ribs 無錫排骨, the signature cuisine of Wuxi, Jiangsu. The braising liquid was cooked down and caramelised into a thick, luxurious red sauce with rock sugar, which enrobed the ribs within.
It’s not chicken!
I didn’t like this Shanghainese appetiser because it was always too sweet. This version was alright, but still too sweet. And strangely, it had a chicken texture.
Not so stinky tofu
This street food was elevated to the fine dining table with these house made stinky tofu. Each one was like tofu puff but crispy on the outside and spongy on the inside. Must dip with the sweet vinegar soy, and chilli sauce.
Three more months to Hairy Crabs
Hairy crabs (or Chinese Mitten Crab) reach maturity in June and would be filled with testosterones. Male “June Yellow” crabs 六月黄 are preferred for their tender meat and plenty of cream. It is said that the crabs taste best after they uncoat for the third time and before the fourth time. When they are available, it means that the yummy hairy crabs are only 3 months away. Cooked with tofu puffs and edamame.
Spinach that is really good for you
Organic spinach from Chongming, all you need was a bit of oil and stir-fry. Garlic optional.
Chicken Soup for the Soul
Wow! This was a taste that I did not expect. I have not had chicken soup with such good chicken tastes for a long time. The free range chicken soup reminded of the good old days when Mom would just buy a live chicken from the market and double-boiled the chicken soup at home. These organically raised free range chickens from Chongming island were such good eats, the restaurant’s steamed chicken was the other bestseller.
Shanghai dumplings the size of Pingpong
Unlike the Hong Kong versions, these Shanghai wantons 猪肉韭菜馄饨 are a main course by themselves. They were the size of pingpong balls and quite filling. I could only managed four of them.
Glutinous rice and gorgon fruits with wine lee
A classic dessert in Shanghai, glutinous rice balls with wine lee 酒酿丸子 was served warm and with sweet Chinese wine soup. I liked the way they made really small glutinous rice balls, size of gorgon fruits 芡实, for a moment I thought it was that.
The service at this branch was so-so, even though the food was quite good. I read somewhere in Cyberspace that they have a few branches, and the one in the outskirt of Shanghai has really g good service and a better, more casual ambiance. Perhaps I would try another branch.
Chongming Private Dining 道道鲜崇明私房菜(延安西路店)
Tel : +86 (021) 32572577
Date Visited : Jul 2021
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