41 Tianping Lu, near Huaihai Lu 天平路41号, 近淮海路 +86 21 6282 9260
11 a.m. to 4 p.m., 5:30 p.m. to midnight
With its curmudgeonly waiters and tiny, crowded dining room, the original Jesse location on Tianping Lu is not just a meal, it’s an experience.
Crammed in with the Shanghainese regulars here, you’ll find tourists speaking Cantonese, Taiwanese or English at a mile per minute and snapping photos at the same speed. Not exactly one’s ideal dining room companions, but people will put up with just about anything in exchange for the deliciousness that is Jesse.
One of the best dishes on the menu? The creamy xie fen potato soup. Picture potatoes cooked until they fall apart, and then have crab roe and some butter added to the mix. Finally, the soup is cover with big flecks of freshly grated black pepper,.
The shaoxing-wine-marinated crab are delicious and are an advanced lesson in wine-marinated foods -- meaning that you can try it after first cutting your teeth on the excellent drunken chicken also offered at Jesse.
For an appetizer (or dessert), try the xin tai ran, a sweet dish of red jujubes stuffed with soft, glutinous rice cake. Also keep in mind that two of Jesse's signature dishes, the eight treasure duck and green onion fish head, require 24-hour advance notice. A pain to remember? Yes, but well worth it.