Yu Zhi Lan is housed in a beautiful villa in downtown Shanghai. In this tranquil setting, Sichuan cuisine is served on dinnerware designed by the master chef Lan and made in Jing De Zhen, the porcelain capital of China. From ‘golden silk noodles’ to braised abalone, each of Chef Lan’s dishes carries a sense of Chinese heritage.
I recently visited Yu Zhi Lan with my food partner in crime Cristina. In my previous Sichuan cuisine experiences, Sichuan peppercorn and chili oil consistently create this explosively spicy & salty combination. But at Yu Zhi Lan, we found the flavors varied and delicate. Dinner started with a beautiful box of appetizers which included Chef Lan’s original creation–chicken feet with pickled peppers. This much lauded creation may seem daunting at first, but I promise it’s worth a try!
Reservations at Yu Zhi Lan are highly recommended. Details down below.
Sichuan cuisine is seldom described as intricate but that’s exactly my impression of Yu Zhi Lan
Over the course of a 3 hour dinner, Cristina & I were introduced to Chef Lan’s cooking dish after dish. The appetizer box was a fun start to the evening with an assortment of seasonal delights. As I mentioned, the chicken feet is a must try and and the bitter melon was excellent as well. Next we had two standout noodle dishes. First, the ‘Rainbow Noodles’ was beautifully plated and included an excellent ‘guaiwei’ or ‘strange sauce’. Sounds a bit funny, but it’s a signature Sichuan seasoning that’s soy-sauce based and quite delicious. Then came the famous ‘Golden Silk Noodles,’ one of Chef Lan’s most prized dishes. These thread-like noodles are made a beautiful gold by adding only duck yolks (in other words, no water).
To my surprise, my favorite dish was the braised abalone which came in a thick and creamy sauce made from 20+ hours of stewing and non-stop stirring. Apparently, the chef in charge of the sauce guards the kitchen all throughout the night to make sure it doesn’t burn. Bursting with umami, I couldn’t resist mixing it into the small serving of Dongbei rice on the side. A definite must-have.
Overall, dinner at Yuzhilan was an unique experience in Shanghai I would recommend alongside other Michelin star restaurants such as Fu He Hui. The food was the star but Yu Zhi Lan’s ability to weave a story around its food was what pieced it all together. As Yu Zhi Lan offers only private dining rooms, you can really sit back and enjoy the server’s introduction of each dish and its significance in Sichuan cuisine. There were a lot of fascinating details I learned throughout the night (why certain dishes were plated on certain porcelain, the significant of certain types of baijiu, etc.) which made it all the more enjoyable.
For all those that have asked for my Shanghai dining list, here’s a new Sichuan gem for you!
Address // 851 Julu Lu, near Fumin Lu
Tel // +8621 54665107
*Reservations are highly recommended