Thursday, August 30, 2007

Lao Kele

Lao Kele is a restaurant that I heard about through the excellent Like a Local blog, which has tips on favorite restaurants in Shanghai and what to eat. The writer mentioned it as his favorite restaurant, putting out old-fashioned, authentic Chinese cooking. A strong enough recommendation that I had to try it.

While I basically agree that it's a very good restaurant, I'm going to have to take quick exception: the restaurant serves fried cheese sticks. No really. So on some level I just can't call it strictly Chinese cuisine. Rather, it's a Chinese take on Western cuisine, it reminded me a lot of the fusion noodle restaurants in the Bay Area, generally I'd see them in shopping malls and so forth. That's a pretty negative comparison, but here's a quick look at about a third of the menu, I could completely imagine seeing the exact same menu back in California. It's about 8 kuai to the dollar:

Similarly to a mall chain, Lao Kele also has a bright, clean, cafeteria-like interior:

But I don't want to pick on the restaurant, just point out the somewhat eerie resemblance. The food is most important, and here I think Lao Kele is excellent. There's a range of fried appetizers, including the cheese, which is served with Thousand Island Dressing as a dipping sauce! Much better was this fried squid:

The noodles are hand made and very high quality, much better than would be available at the California mall. There's a variety, spinach noodles and carrot noodles and egg noodles and so forth. The meat generally still has the bones attached to it, you spit them out while eating, I hate that. Anyway, here's egg noodle with chicken in spices, #316 on the take-out menu above:

I don't have a picture, but there's also very high-quality fruit juices and smoothies going for about a dollar. I've been three or four times, and everything I've ordered has been excellent. Except for the cheese sticks, but my expectations were low for that one anyway. The location is convenient, right near People's Park at Huanghe Lu and Fengyang Lu - so for me, I can take the #2 Subway there, and it's just a minute or two walk North from the #9 exit.

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