The Place Word has it that there is a nondescript Shanghainese eatery in Jalan Besar which is popular amongst the Shanghai expats in Singapore, and hence we decided to kill the curiosity ourselves and head down. Located near to the Punggol Nasi Lemak along Jalan Besar Road is Xiang Yuan Ji Shanghai Pan Fried Dumpling (祥源记上海生煎), a two years old casual Shanghainese restaurant which is so easy to overlook in this food haven enclave. The setting of Xiang Yuan Ji is modest, with not much of a dining ambience to speak of, but that is not the reason we are here. We were keen to try the food, of course. Despite the location in Jalan Besar, we were surprised that the restaurant was relatively empty on a weekend evening.
You can either park at the carpark behind the shop houses, or take a walk from the nearby Boon Keng MRT Station. Either way, be prepared to walk past some sleazy parlours.
The Food The one pager menu is simple and straightforward. You won’t find Xiao Long Bao here, but you will still spot the usual Shanghainese noodles and my favourite Sheng Jian Bao. Prices are very reasonable, ranging mainly between S$4 to S$10 for most of the dishes.
We went straight for the Shanghai Pan-fried Dumpling (S$5), better known as Sheng Jian Bao, which didn’t look quite impressive in terms of presentation. Luckily, the taste made up for our superficial misjudgement. The skin here had a nice and crispy texture, with the delicious juice within the bun. I had two of it to myself and was hoping for more.
The Stewed Beancurd with Honey Sauce (S$4.50) is one of those appetisers I always order at the popular Din Tai Fung chain, and I was pleasantly surprised that this version had a close resemblance in items of taste to my usual. Highly recommend this side dish to start the meal.
The Shanghai Style Pork Cutlet (S$6.50) comes in a rather generous portion. It was nothing to shout about, but nevertheless an appetising dish to share.
For noodles, we tried both the Shanghai Scallion Oil Noodle (S$6) and the Spicy Pork Noodle (S$8). Our recommendation is to go for the former, which was lacking in ingredients but full-on with flavours. This went really well with the pork cutlet, a great combination to have while at Xiang Yuan Ji.
The Spicy Pork Noodle was too oily for my liking unfortunately. And the pork cubes here were too dry.
Rants The location is not the most ideal. Be prepared to walk past sleazy parlours before arriving at the restaurant.
Will I Return Again? We found the food at Xiang Yuan Ji unpretentious, and if you are into a no-frills and decent Shanghainese food, this is worth a try. Just look beyond the simple furnishing of the restaurant.
Taste bud: 3/5
Hole in the pocket: 3/5
Overall Experience: 3/5
Xiang Yuan Ji Shanghai Pan Fried Dumpling
405 Jalan Besar
Tel: +65 6291 1101
Tuesday to Sunday: 11.30am to 10.30pm
Closed on Mondays
Ranted by The Ranter