Sep 2013

Shanghainese Home Cooking at Lánxīn Cāntīng – Shanghai

Lánxīn Cāntīng - Shanghai

I secretly wished throughout our travels in China that some kindhearted, English-speaking local would invite The Astronomer and me to their home for dinner. There’s nothing quite like a home-cooked meal, especially while on the road, but alas (and unsurprisingly), my fantastic pipe dream never came true.

Instead, we sought out Lánxīn Cāntīng, a hole-in-the-wall located in the French Concession, for a more-accessible taste of Shanghainese home cooking.

Lánxīn Cāntīng - Shanghai

Family-run restaurants specializing in simple local fare have grown increasingly rare here in recent years, even though demand remains sizable. That, coupled with the diminutive size of the restaurant, meant that we endured an hour-long wait for a table this evening, far and away the longest line of the entire trip.

Lánxīn Cāntīng - Shanghai

As with most of the restaurants that we frequented in China, Lánxīn Cāntīng did not have an English-language menu. We resorted to pointing and smiling to communicate our preferences, as well as showing photos of specific dishes to our server. The former method was much more successful…

Nearly every table in the place was digging into platters heaped with the most gorgeous braised pork accented with green chilies, so we had to have some too. Served at room temperature, the bite-sized belly morsels melted in our mouths, treating our taste buds to a sweet and savory symphony.

Lánxīn Cāntīng - Shanghai

Teeny tiny clams gently steamed with scallions and ginger were also a must. Even though the clams were quite puny in size, their flavor was wholly of the sea.

Lánxīn Cāntīng - Shanghai

The Astronomer and I largely ignore vegetables during our travels, so sharing a plate of greens over dinner was highly necessary. We had no idea what variety these were due to the language barrier, but they looked like a member of the clover family. Wilted just so and seasoned with dark soy, the clover leaves tasted mostly of themselves.

Lánxīn Cāntīng - Shanghai

I was hoping that our final dish would be a luxurious egg and crab number, but the server interpreted the image that I showed her as egg with scallions instead. Crabby bits don’t tend to photograph well, I guess! Although I was a bit let down with the mix up, this dish was totally comforting and delicious.

Lánxīn Cāntīng - Shanghai

Shanghainese home cooking as I experienced it at Lánxīn Cāntīng impressed with its finesse and subtlety. Every dish was extraordinarily flavorful without an avalanche of salt or any heavy saucing. Lánxīn Cāntīng: the next best thing to a home-cooked meal.

Lánxīn Cāntīng (click on link for Google map)

130 Jinxian Road
French Concession
Lu Wan Qu, Shanghai, China ‎
Phone: +86 21 6253 3554 ‎

Our previous culinary exploits in the People’s Republic of China:


Hong Kong




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3 thoughts on “Shanghainese Home Cooking at Lánxīn Cāntīng – Shanghai

  1. I love that you diligently document all of your food adventures. The vegetable is call cao dou in mandarin. The egg dish is cooked with yellow leek (jiu huang), which are mild and tender, and much more expensive than the green leek or scallions.

  2. so your comment “Family-run restaurants specializing in simple local fare have grown increasingly rare here in recent years, even though demand remains sizable” ended up being the closing scene for the season 4 opener of Parts Unknown of Bourdain in Shanghai with him saying the same thing. He once told me he still reads your website. guess it is still true.

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