Waiting's no problem for wanghong generation

Long lines outside Shanghai restaurants have long been a tradition with diners happy to wait for hours to enjoy the treats in store at some city eateries. 

Trend-seeking is a fun thing to do on weekends and holidays. People can be so patient when it comes to tasting the hottest dining concepts in town. Wanghong, meaning Internet celebrity or online sensation, is almost a revolution in the food and beverage scene. It gives people the urge of trying something new for the simple purpose of experience.

Waiting in long lines at restaurants or shops is a Shanghai tradition. Despite the growing number of wanghong concepts and people constantly talking about the pros and cons of long lines, few can beat the six-hour waiting time for mooncakes at Guangmingcun restaurant before the Mid-Autumn Festival.

These time-honored food stores attract long lines because people want assurance of good quality and food safety, while the emerging wanghong foods and drinks offer elements of surprise and fashion for the younger crowd.

Also, taste is a personal experience that cannot be quantified, it’s absolutely normal that what one person finds delicious may not appeal to another, so the reviews received by wanghong restaurants are often polarized.

This week, we’ll take a look at some of the latest wanghong concepts that are attracting people to wait three to four hours.

Wang Rongjiang / SHINE

Long queues outside Guangmingcun restaurant on Huaihai Road is a common phenomenon before Mid-Autumn Festival and Spring Festival.  

Huo Shao Yun

Opened in Shanghai in early 2018, Huo Shao Yun is still one of the hottest wanghong restaurants with an average waiting time of two hours. They specialize in the ethnic cuisine of Dai people in Yunnan Province, and the brand was a big hit in Beijing.

The signature dishes you may find on every tabletop are the braised dishes cooked and served in traditional bronze pots. The protein options include chicken, bullfrog and beef, you can choose the degree of spiciness as well as adding luffa gourd, needle mushroom or konjac noodle for additional textures.

The bronze pot dishes are very rich and even the lowest spicy level is quite aggressive.

In addition, there are also various stir-fries and snack dishes that are’t very common in other Yunnan restaurants. The garlic platter is very good, and for a staple the fried rice with soured bamboo shoot (a slightly stinky preserved vegetable) and minced beef is recommended.

The pricing of Huo Shao Yun is overall fair except for the beverage section, from which a jug of lime and pear juice sells for over 110 yuan (US$15.85). However, the house-made rice wine is a very good accompaniment to the spicy cuisine. It is 78 yuan for a liter.

Huo Shao Yun doesn’t accept dinner reservations, so all diners must go to the restaurant and wait in line. A group will be seated when at least two thirds of the people are present. Lunch reservations are available and they also do delivery on Ele.me.

Address: 6F, Crystal Galleria, 68 Yuyuan Rd

Tel: 6266-6076


Lou Shang

This Hong Kong-style hotpot joint has been highly sought-after since it opened in 2016. Back then, guests needed to make dinner reservations two months ahead.

Now there are two Lou Shang restaurants on Maoming Road S. and Jinxian Road, and you still need to make reservations many days ahead or wait approximately one to two hours by the door for a table.

Their specialty is golden-color fish maw and free-range chicken broth, which takes hours to cook. Before cooking the raw dishes, drink a bowl of the thick, collagen-rich soup to enjoy the original flavor.

Popular dishes to accompany the luxurious broth include high-quality beef and prawns.

Lou Shang’s clay pot rice with cured meat and frog as well as mango pomelo sago are also popular.

Address: 2F, 46 Maoming Rd S.

Tel: 6247-0007

Diantaixiang Hotpot

According to the solar term, winter has already come, and there’s no better time to be sitting down with friends and family to enjoy a cozy meal of hotpot.

There are many wanghong hotpot places in Shanghai, especially new openings that highlight unique recipes and dining experiences.

Hailing from Chengdu, Diantaixiang Hotpot is now top of the wanghong ranking list in Shanghai. The average waiting line is two to three hours, and it’s longer at weekends.

The most popular dishes at Diantaixiang are tender beef slices, hotpot steak, beef tripe, freshly fried crunchy pork and handmade ciba (glutinous rice cake).

The tender beef slices are made by massaging fresh meat with special seasonings for 30 minutes, so the meat tenderizes and absorbs all the flavors.

Another must-have dish when eating spicy Sichuan hotpot is the wide sweet potato vermicelli.

The dishes are served in small stainless steel bowls, the small portion size means you can try more varieties and order more that you favor.

Address: 444 Jiangwan Rd E.

Tel: 3160-6473


Lelecha

Wherever Lelecha opens a new shop, there are waiting lines.

Known as the creator of “dirty tea” or milk tea with brown sugar syrup and pearls, Lelecha is a power player in the tea beverage sector.

When “dirty tea” was launched, people waited hours to buy a cup of the sweet, rich drink. With more shops spreading across Shanghai, waiting lines are much shorter now.

The “dirty tea” series also has fruit-flavored variations such as strawberry and mango.

Lelecha also operates bakeries that sell creations that include “dirty bread” (chocolate bun covered with chocolate syrup and cocoa powder), D24 durian braided bread and salted egg yolk bread bun.

Address: 1F, Xintiandi Style, 245 Madang Rd

Tel: 6377-0177


Wahsum Tongshui

Opened in spring 2018, Hong Kong-style dessert shop Wahsum Tongshui is now a wanghong destination. It specializes in traditional desserts such as milk and egg white stew, frozen cake, mango pomelo sago and various sweet soups.

The line is not as long as other wanghong restaurants and it’s quite easy to get a table.

The original souffle is also very popular, but takes 25 minutes to make to order.

Address: 790 Nanjing Rd W.

Tel: 5255-2779

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