Shanghai's best Northern cuisine

Shanghai's best Northern cuisine

Northern Chinese boast more than Beijingers -- but they know how to eat and eat well

Recommended: Xibei Oat Noodle Village

CNNGo Best Eats - Shanghai - Xibei Oat Noodle VillageCome for the specialties of the house -- you mian wo wo and freshly made tofu.

The specialty at Xibei is the you mian or oat flour noodles and lamb, meaning every part of the lamb from spine to leg.

Already successful in Beijing and Shenzhen, the chain from Inner Mongolia opened Shanghai branches earlier this year and has already drawn an enthusiastic clientele.

In this village-like interior -- complete with dangling chili peppers and big clay jars of rice wine -- the food tastes homemade. Try the signature you mian wo wo (oat noodle nest), a batch of firm noodles hand-rolled into tubes eaten with flavorful broths.

Our expert panelist Anthony Zhao swears that anything here with lamb is good. He's partial to Xibei's spicy lamb spine. The spine bones are long-cooked until the rich marrow flavors the tender meat and hot broth.

Zhao also recommends grindstone tofu -- it's freshly made on the premises and the grinding process gives it a pleasant, slightly granular texture. Cap off the meal with a mug of homemade honey yogurt.

Xibei Oat Noodle Village, 1535 Dongfang Lu, near Pujian Lu 东方路1535号, 近浦建路, +86 21 5875 8586, hours: 10 a.m. to 2 a.m.

Click "Next" to find more of Shanghai's best Northern cuisine.

Recommended: Xin Mei Ju

CNNGo Best Eats - Shanghai - Xin Mei JuThis Beijing-style hot pot calls for one thing: lamb, lots of lamb.

Food editor Rica Lou pointed us to this hole-in-the-wall that specializes in shuan yang rou, Mongolia-originated, Beijing-style mutton hot pot.

At each table you'll see a proper copper hot pot with an open, funnel shaped middle. Restaurant attendants fill the inside of the funnel with hot coals to heat up the lamb bone soup base until you're ready to start shuan-ing.

“We just order lots and lots of lamb. It's very good quality here,” says Lou.

The raw lamb slices feature milky white fat that adds addictive flavor to the stew.

Delicious accompaniments include enoki mushrooms, sliced carp, young bamboo shoots, frozen tofu and mini pork-filled egg jiaozi.

To avoid a wait, Lou suggests the newer Yunnan Nan Lu branch.

Xin Mei Ju, multiple locations, 16 Yunnan Nan Lu, near Yan'an Lu 云南南路16号, 近延安路, +86 21 6355 3920, hours: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Click "Next" to find more of Shanghai's best Northern cuisine.

Recommended: Four Seasons Dumpling King

CNNGo Best Eats - Shanghai - Four Seasons Dumpling KingIf there was Chinese junk food, this hui guo rou would be it. We mean that in the nicest possible way.

You've probably seen Four Seasons Dumpling King during a midnight taxi ride through the former French Concession. It's open till late, a good thing if you've tried its tasty lamb jiaozi.

Expert panelist Anthony Zhao accompanied us to the restaurant and welcomed us to try a favorite guilty pleasure: Four Season's delicious (and totally unhealthy) hui guo rou, made by drizzling hot crispy strips of pork in a sweet and savory sauce.

This is Chinese junk food at its best and perfect for people who secretly miss orange chicken.

Four Seasons Dumpling King, 1791 Huaihai Zhong Lu, 淮海中路1791号, +86 21 6433 0349, hours: 10:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Click "Next" to find Shanghai's best Northern cuisine.

Winner: Xindalu

CNNGo Best Eats - Shanghai - XindaluEating at Xindalu can be far cheaper than hopping to plane to Beijing, and the ducks are just as good.

Although it’s a bit of a slog to get to Xindalu in the Hyatt on the Bund, once you're there you'll be too busy concentrating on the Peking duck to care about anything else.

According to food critic Shen Hongfei, "This eating experience gives you double pleasure: the food and the venue."

Before you dig in you can watch chefs roasting the shiny birds over a wood fire from the open kitchen. The glossy duck is brought to your table, sliced into pieces of crispy skin and tender fowl and served with sugar, hoisin and garlic for dipping. Wrap the crispy meat in paper-thin pancakes along with some leek shreds and enjoy.

Shen also recommends the braised pork chop, gold tower meat and Shanghai style smoked fish (xun yu).

The beggar's chicken is a whole chicken baked in lotus leaves and clay. As good as the moist chicken is the stuffing of whole chestnuts and rice.

Xindalu, 1/F, Hyatt on the Bund, 199 Huangpu Lu, near Wuchang Lu 黄浦路199号上海外滩茂悦大酒店1楼, 近武昌路, +86 21 6393 1234 ext. 6318,, hours: 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Meet the experts who helped us choose Shanghai's Best Eats.

Full Best Eats list and winners
Joanne Yao is a writer and editor based in Shanghai.
Read more about Joanne Yao