By Sue Dyson and Roger McShane (foodtourist.com)
Updated: 2006-07-26 14:11
When you arrive at this sprawling complex you will see a massive Tudor-style building with a lane running down one side. The large entrance to the Chinese restaurant is down this lane. The signage on the outside refers to the Door which is a bar and restaurant on the upper floor, however the Shanghainese restaurant that we like so much on the ground floor is sometimes referred to as XianQianFang or in English it is called Folk Restaurant.
Almost anything you order here will be good. We like to start with some cold vegetarian dishes such as the Vegetable rolls with chilli in sour sauce or Diced smoked bean curd with vegetables or celery with a mustard (wasabi) dressing. These are all perfectly executed dishes with a sophisticated balancing of flavours and textures. The celery dish is just so simple but so memorable. It consists of slices of celery with a very fine coating of a sauce based on wasabi that gives it a slight heat which is then countered by the coolness of the vegetable. The vegetable rolls see cabbage that has been lightly pickled in vinegar (hence the sour sauce-there is no sauce poured over the rolls) wrapped around finely julienned carrot. Another perfect dish.
One of the most memorable dishes here is the steamed and fried pork that is served with snake beans and chilli in a rich, dark sauce. These are accompanied by thin pancakes (the ones used for Peking Duck) which you wrap the pork and vegetables in.
They also do roasted meats including whole baby lamb-and for larger groups whole baby suckling pig.
The service is friendly and efficient.
As an added bonus after dinner you can go upstairs to the bar called The Door and listen to wonderful music played on a blend of traditional and modern instruments along with a few snippets of Beijing-style opera. We love it!
Xian Qian Fang (Folk Restaurant)
Location: No.1468 Hongqiao Lu, Hongqiao