Shanghai is quickly sliding into the coldest days of winter, and small plates are no longer going to cut it. Grey days and bone-chilling temperatures call for a hearty meal, preferably with hefty butter crusts, flaky biscuit dough, sheets of crisp filo or piles of mash. While the humble meat pie dates back to at least the Middle Ages, these Shanghai versions show that we’ve come a long way from the days of ‘eating crow.’
1. The Bull and Claw’s Chicken Tikka Pie
Image courtesy of Bull and Claw
Sometimes we eat a dish that is so comforting and delicious that it inspires an entire article. This savory pie list came about after lunch at The Bull and Claw. Meeting a friend who was craving lobster, we couldn’t ignore the words ‘chicken tikka pie’ on the menu. A one-course lunch set (RMB68) includes a soft drink, and there’s an additional RMB18 charge for the pie.
Gently spiced chicken tikka filling and the clever addition of melted cheddar come inside a crisp puff pastry shell. The inspired pie comes with a generous helping of creamed sweet potato mash.
See a listing for Bull and Claw
2. Pie Society’s Venison Fig Pie
Image courtesy of Pie Society
You cannot talk about pies in Shanghai without talking about Pie Society. In addition to their regular tasty line-up, winter pies have joined the menu. We are especially excited about the return of Oh Dear! This stick to your ribs meal features New Zealand venison cooked in red wine with juniper, figs, carrots and potatoes.
Classic pies are RMB58 solo or RMB78 with one side dish and gravy. We’re partial to the minty mushy peas or sweet potato and carrot mash, but you do you.
3. Egg’s Chicken, Bacon + Red-Eye Gravy with Scallion Buttermilk Biscuit
Image by Cristina Ng/That's
When Egg chef Jamie Pea visited her cousin in Hong Kong, he taught her some of the lessons gathered one summer at Husk in South Carolina. One of those secrets included red-eye gravy, created by sizzling bacon and burning onions, then deglazing with hot coffee.
That flavorsome sauce forms the backbone of Pea’s pot pie (RMB65). She uses chicken thighs plus skin (hello flavor!), oyster mushrooms for additional meatiness and toasted buckwheat for texture, all balanced with a smidge of dark brown sugar syrup and a glug of vinegar. A big fluffy scallion buttermilk biscuit is on hand to sop all the yumminess up.
See a listing for Egg
4. Oha Eatery’s Rabbit from the Birds
Image by Cristina Ng/That's
With so many excellent restaurants in town, and new ones opening all the time, it’s easy to forget one of your favorites. We stopped into Oha Eatery recently to see what’s good and discovered a brand new menu.
One of the winter dishes, Rabbit from the Birds (RMB82), is an addictive filo dough pastry with spicy stewed rabbit inside. The mix of Guizhou lemon pepper with fresh and dry chilis gives the meat a complexity balanced by a fresh fennel salad. Slightly sweet and sour tamarind paste takes this to the next level.
See a listing for Oha
5. Shanghai Tavern’s Pork Pie
Image by Betty Richardson/That's
When you’re in the mood for British comfort food in the classiest of settings, Shanghai Tavern is the obvious choice. They don’t just do a traditional pork pie here, they wheel out an impressively long rectangular one – the length of a human arm. A clean slice (RMB128) is made through the golden hot water crust, containing chopped seasoned pork and a layer of savory gelatinized stock. It's perfect with English piccalilli, pickled vegetables and three types of mustard alongside.
See a listing for Shanghai Tavern
6. The Shed’s Tuck Shop Pies
Image courtesy of Tuck Shop Pies
For more casual days, The Shed has all three varieties of Tuck Shop Pies on offer. Created by a couple of expats from Wellington, the pies are made from New Zealand beef and dairy. Choose from beef and cheese, steak and mushroom or chicken and leak (all RMB55). Or for days you want to stay in, grab a Tuck Shop Pie from the frozen case in grocery stores around town.
See a listing for The Shed
[Cover image courtesy of Pie Society]