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Oct 9, 2010 01:24 PM

M & Z, Fitzrovia, London

A menu of mostly Shanghainese, and also Sichuan dishes, but also spots of Hunan and other regional Chinese.

Kao3 fu1, cubes of wheat gluten in a sweetish sauce with a light hint of dark clovey spices, with peanuts and bites of crunchy wood ear fungus, is fairly well made, the minor weakness being that the wheat gluten could be a bit more tender.

Xiao3 long2 bao1, the steamed broth-filled dumplings were decent. The filling was nicely seasoned and savoury, the stiff skins on the thick side, very similar to the rendition at Red Sun in Marylebone, much less delicate than the superlative version I experienced at Min Jiang.

Potstickers aka guo1 tie4, were nice, golden brown in crispy on one side from pan frying, the skins resiliently al dente (similar to the xlb, but perhaps more appropriate here). One or two were more charred than they should be, but otherwise tasty.

Several other Shanghainese dishes here. Would probably be back to try the Lion's Head meatballs, the smoked fish and the stir fried rice cakes, among other things.

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  1. The Jinling salted duck is beautifully cured -- firm, hammy, flavourful (and obviously salty) meat. Lion's head meatballs is a textbook example -- the minced pork is lightly packed, to give a faintly spongy feel to the meatball; within are scattered bits of pickled mustard greens, enough to give an extra but nuanced savoury dimension. The stock around it has a tiny hint of sweetness, is smooth rich and evenly and gently flavoured with woodsy spices and herbs.

    1 Reply
    1. re: limster

      BTW, the quality of the cured duck suggests that their drunken chicken is going to be good. Will probably try that next. Good to finally have a serious Shanghainese place to go to.

    2. I tried this place out for lunch today after reading this - it was unquestionably a complete disaster.

      Arriving at 1:15, we asked for a main menu instead of the £4.80 one plate rice or noodle dishes. Salted duck, grandmother's braised pork, three slivered vegetables and steamed rice for two of us. The salted duck appeared after 15 minutes, and after having eaten that, we proceeded to wait 40 minutes. the pork appeared, 10 minutes passed and I asked where the rice was. The answer was that they had run out of steamed rice but could give us egg fried rice instead.

      I asked why it had taken so long. They told us there were too many people there. I asked why they had that many seats (all of about 20...) and they were stumped.

      We had to leave to return to work. To be fair to them, they boxed up the pork for us to take away and didn't charge us for it.

      2 Replies
      1. re: hollow_legs

        How was the salted duck?

        Also, was the braising sauce for the pork on the sweetish side (Shanghainese cooking tends to sweet)? Was expecting that it would be a bit on the sweet and gingery side, am curious to know what their rendition is like.

        1. re: limster

          Salted duck was just a bit like cold salty duck. Perhaps I didn't 'get' it. The sauce for the pork was quite sweet, no heavy flavourings other than soy and sugar.

      2. i don't know if i ordered badly, or if i got white-personed, or what, but the cumin beef had no discernible cumin. in fact it didn't taste much of anything. probably most like a black bean sauce from any crappy takeaway. on the plus side it was very quick.

        funnily enough, two asian guys who were sitting behind me have just turned up in my office for a meeting. maybe i'll ask them what they had!

        4 Replies
        1. re: gembellina

          That's useful info -- the cumin beef is more western chinese (e.g. Xinjiang) in style. Perhaps they aren't specialists in that area. Anyone tried their Sichuan dishes yet? Would be nice to know how they handle dishes from that region.

          1. re: limster

            as cumin beef is in fuschia dunlop's sichuan cooking book i assumed it was a sichuan one and would be rather more tasty. hey ho. i might go back and try some of their other stuff, i enjoyed the walk along cleveland street and being able to sit at a table for one without feeling like a leper.

            1. re: gembellina

              i thought it was in her hunan book? maybe it's in both

              1. re: t_g

                You're probably right, there's so much info about her books and recipes on the Home Cooking thread that it's easy to forget what's from where.