Hunan Xiangcun Fengwei $
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168 Wulumuqi Lu, near Anfu Lu
HOURS: Daily 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.-midnight
COST: Entrées less than ¥100
METRO: Changshu Road (Line 1, Line 7)
This brightly lit, two-story spice haven has something of a cult following among those in the know. It may not look like much from the outside, but once you start flicking through the menu, you realize that it’s a chili-lover’s dream.
The traditional cuisine of Hunan Province is based around the chili pepper, meaning that most of the dishes at this restaurant come with a kick. The somewhat perplexing English translations of the dishes are more confusing than explanatory (the best being “sub-soviet cooks in a covered vessel the cucumber” and “sheet iron unwearied effort however beef”), but the accompanying photos ensure that you end up with something palatable. The best picks are the pork ribs with Hunan spices, sizzling beef, and smoked pork with pickled beans.
Service is fast and there’s no guarantee that appetizers and entrées will come in any particular order. Make sure you remind the wait staff about rice, as it’s often customary to serve it last.
© Susie Gordon from Moon Beijing & Shanghai, 2nd Edition