The buzz: New Sichuan joint on Donghu Lu, from the same folk who brought us the popular Citizen Café on Jinxian Lu. Sichuan Citizen jostles for a place on Donghu beside Cheng Cheng’s, and a glut of all-you-can-eat Japanese joints.
The décor: Old Shanghai meets up-market casual. Warm lighting, wood panels. The restaurant opens out from a modest front salon into a huge dining space, and there are several large banqueting rooms on the second floor. Tasteful Chinese kitsch adorns the walls, including oracle bones and 1930s portraits.
The food: Our bench mark when dining Sichuan is a small eatery tucked away at the Putuo end of Kaixuan Lu, known only to the most local of locals. In this brightly lit, noisy food emporium, the gong bao ji ding is sleek and spicy, the mapo tofu piquant and just spongy enough, and the beer cheap and cold. Best of all, the prices are tiny. So it is with reluctance that I go elsewhere for my Chengdu cai. However, all this has changed. I have become a convert to the ways of the Sichuan Citizen. Their gong bao ji ding (¥28) was well above par, as was the array of cold dishes we tried (ranging from around ¥8 to ¥20). Hot dishes cost between ¥20 and ¥60. If you don’t mind bones and skin, try the roast duck (¥58) – perfect to gnaw between courses. We also liked the beef with peppers, fried beef with a chutney-style sauce, and the dumplings.
The drinks: The large bamboo-print cocktail menu was a pleasant surprise. We went for the Mao-jito (which had a surprisingly good bite of sugar - sweeter than a normal mojito) and a classic Manhattan, both ¥45.
Why you’ll be back: Sichuan Citizen is good and cheap enough to become a regular haunt, great for a dinner with friends, or a quick stop-off for a cocktail.
Sichuan Citizen. 30 Donghu Lu, near Huaihai Zhong Lu. 5404 1235. 11am-10.30pm. Average ¥100 per person, including a drink.