★ 夏面馆 (Xia Noodle House) - Shanghai
Xia Noodle House is a restaurant chain that specializes in SuJou style ramen. This is one of the fancier noodle shop in Shanghai where the store is clean, brightly lit and well decorated. When you enter the store it feels like walking into the streets of SuJou 100 years ago, complete with old style furniture and classical Chinese paintings. The service is very nice as well where the waitress patiently explained to us each item on the menu. After careful consideration I ordered one of their famous ramen dishes 虾爆鳝面 (shrimp and river eel noodles).
The Soup - is a rich, cloudy chicken soup, lightly seasoned with salt and not much else. I must admit that the soup here is much more flavorful than most other ramen soup that I've tried in Shanghai, but compared to some other places such as 沧浪亭 (CangLangTing) or 老半斋酒楼 (LaoBanZai), the soup seemed flat and one dimensional.
The Noodles - are thin, straight noodles cooked firm. The noodles are like Hakata style noodles, firm and chewy but tend to turn soggy pretty quickly as well. The noodles were delicious, much better than the soup.
The Toppings - were frightening looking strands of cooked eel that were floating on the soup in a way that made them look like they're still alive. There were also stir fried shrimp in the soup. The eel are lightly seasoned, slightly sweet, with the flavor of the fish being a little too strong. The shrimp were baby shrimp that didn't match the ramen either in its texture or flavor.
Overall - a dissapointment for me. After reading so many positive reviews on Chinese websites I had very high hopes for this place. While the noodles were good and the toppings okay, the soup simply came out flat for me. Not worth the $24RMB (about $2.50 US), which seems like a bargain but is about 3-4 times the prices of an average bowl of ramen in Shanghai. Xia Noodle House does have a lot of other Chinese dishes that are quite good though.
Later on during my trip I tried a few more ramen shops in Shanghai that were really good, as I mentioned 沧浪亭 (CangLangTing) is one of those places. I hope to write about this place in the next week or so.
徐汇区肇嘉浜路798号 (798 ZhaoJiaBang Road)
静安区南京西路1266号 (1266 Nanjing West Road)