There’s a Chinese saying,「大隐于市」referring to greatness that is hidden in the city. There’s a Shanghainese noodle shop that has done that.
Hidden in a street level apartment in a housing district, Dingteler Porridge and Noodle Restaurant 顶特勒粥面馆 is a Shanghainese that is as authentic as it gets. The name implied “very very good” in Shanghainese dialect.
Their shop is located in a small alley on Huaihai Road. In order to facilitate the diners, the proprietress used to place three signs within a short ten-odd meters from the entrance of the alley to the door of the shop. But due to its popularity, they have since been removed.
The simple storefront is a step back in time, and it is not very conspicuous from the outside. When you approach the door of the store, the aroma of porridge, noodles, rice and snacks fill the air.
The owner was an IT executive working through the gruelling 9-9-6 schedule (9am – 9pm, 6 days week). Often he would knock off from work and had nothing good to eat except the fast food joints. So he decided to open a noodle shop to cater for the night owls, the midnight shifters, etc. The food quality was his top priority, and because of that he had won the accolades from Michelin for 5 years in a row.
The store is open 24 hours a day, and diners can enjoy freshly prepared noodles and porridge. Nothing is left overnight and the porridge is always freshly prepared. The shop is very spartan, dine in is possible in the small dining room in the attic. Not much headroom up there, so if you are tall it would be a challenge.
The 雪菜黄鱼煨面 soup noodles with pickled mustard and yellow croaker, and the 香炸大排 fried pork chop are perennial favourite among the Shanghainese.
雪菜黄鱼煨面 soup noodles with pickled mustard and yellow croaker comes with a large piece of yellow croaker and a deliciously creamy soup with a rich fish flavour made from the fish bones that have been simmering for hours.
Yellow croaker is a very good eating fish with a natural sweet taste. The meat is tender, light and has a pleasant flavour to it. It used to be caught in the wild around the waters of Shanghai. These days they are all farmed.
Shanghai noodles is a thick, creamy-coloured, chewy noodle that is similar to Japanese ramen. Unlike other noodles where they use eggs in the dough, Shanghai noodles is made usually only with plain white flour, water and oil.
The thick, savoury soup coats each strand for a satisfying slurp. Pickled mustard 雪菜 are potted leaves of mustard cabbage. It adds a level of saltiness, sour and complex flavour profiles that can only come from preserved vegetables.
Their 香炸大排 fried pork chop is a walk down memory lane. Back in school, my school canteen sold a similar pork chop. The pork is marinated with oyster sauce, sesame oil and soy sauce – all Chinese condiments. No breading is used for the deep frying process.
I do not know when Worcester sauce became the must-have sauce for fried pork chop, but Shanghainese have been eating their pork chops with this sauce, especially the one from Taikang.
Interestingly the pork chop was still moist in the middle. Dipping it in the Worcester sauce, the pork chop got elevated to another level. Not fine dining standard, but it hits the spot in terms of comfort food.
Every Shanghainese would have their favourite noodle place. But this one has become my favourite Shanghai noodle place.
Dingteler Porridge and Noodle Restaurant 顶特勒粥面馆
494 Middle Huaihai Road, Shanghai, China Mainland
Te l :+86 21 5107 9177
Date visited : Jan 2022
Michelin Guide Shanghai Edition Plates 2017-2021