Major makeover for small Huangpu eateries

The remodelling of the restaurant scene includes some Michelin-listed venues popular with expats looking for that authentic longtang (laneway) experience.
Ti Gong

Popular Shanghainese restaurant Lan Xin, is one of three home-style eateries in the area listed by Michelin.

Huangpu District is refurbishing small but popular local eateries along a 100-meter stretch of Jinxian Road and hidden behind an old residential community, including some Michelin-rated venues.

Some of the restaurants are popular among expats looking for authentic local longtang (laneway) flavors.

The district’s market supervision bureau is carrying out the “standardization” renovation of 18 restaurants on the road to boost food safety and improve the overall atmosphere.

The aim is to develop Jinxian Road into a “fashion and recreation street.” The upgrade is focusing on kitchen layout, cooking processes, kitchenware hygiene, sanitation and other facilities, a bureau official said on Tuesday.

“Our kitchen has been fully renovated with new ceramic tiles, newly painted walls, stainless steel kitchenware and rewiring of electrical wires,” said a man surnamed Tang, a manager at popular Shanghainese restaurant Lan Xin, one of the three Michelin-listed eateries on the street.

Jin Yuan, a wanghong, or web celebrity restaurant, has been renovated into traditional Chinese style with red decorations and furniture.

“Although we had to suspend our busy business for a week, we fully support the government’s renovation campaign,” said a manager surnamed Cen, adding she and her customers liked the makeover.

An employee at another Michelin-listed restaurant, Haijinzi, said:

“Hygiene is vital to small home-cooking restaurants like us. The renovations helped us to know more about the regulations and standards.

“It also showed us we are on the right track.”

Fourteen restaurants have finished their renovations. The rest will be done by the end of the month.

Huangpu has one of the highest densities of restaurants in the downtown area. It has 2,500 legal small home-style restaurants like those on the Jinxian Road, accounting for 65 percent of restaurants in the district.

Most are scattered among old residential communities and are home kitchen-style operations, raising concerns about food safety and drawing complaints about noise from local residents.

But the narrow spaces amid old houses has added to the attraction for visitors to the city. Most of the customers are tourists, who are prepared to join long queues for a table, especially at eateries such as Lan Xin and Jin Yuan.

The district government wants to make these small home-style venues a special feature in Huangpu, rather than simply shutting them down to please the neighbors, the bureau official said.

The renowned Ada Scallion Pancake and Menghua Street Wonton, for instance, that usually attract large queues and long waits, have relocated with the help of the district government.

The district’s market watchdog plans to finish the “standardization” program within five years. A series of “showcase streets” such as Jinxian Road with distinctive flavors or styles will be established to attract visitors, the government says.

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