Yuxin Chuancai in Shanghai


I won’t say that I’m not a fan of Sichuan food but there are certain precautions that I need to ensure before having a Sichuan meal. This is because I have a tricky stomach (as noted in a public testimonial here) when it comes to chili and oils. Basically, I will reign mightily the porcelain throne, if you get my drift.

However, a Singaporean friend in Shanghai strongly recommended that we visit Yu Xin Sichuan Restaurant because, according to him, it’s the best Sichuan restaurant in Shanghai. It’s so good that he can spend the whole day there eating.

Hyperbole aside, we decided that lunch will be at Yu Xin.


There’s a certain dichotomy that exists in the upper class of Shanghainese restaurants where you are warmly welcomed at the door, courteously shown to your seat and then get treated like an enemy once you pick up a menu and service starts.

I suspect it’s because us pesky tourists ask no end of questions – remember, there are no stupid questions, only stupid people – like is your chili very hot? Or is your chili really really very hot?

Sure or not?

Salivate Chicken

Koushuiji – a definite dribble inducer

Moving along, we let our friend order while we flipped through the menu and made comments about how we can’t really read Chinese very well. Nevertheless, we strove, we adapted, we overcame and we ordered the Koushuiji as a starter and the Spicy Beef Lungs which is really hard to find elsewhere.

Spicy Beef Lungs

Spicy Beef Lungs – puts hairs on your chest

The conventional wisdom is that you only get to enjoy the full flavors of the dishes only after you’ve endured the numbing sensation of the peppers. Not surprisingly, “Numb” is one of the official sensations we’re allowed to have in China. And so we decided to start easy with an assortment of cold dishes which I must say rocked my boat.

One thing I wanted to try was the “Ants up the tree”. I’ve read about it, seen recipes but never really seen a good picture of it, much less taste it.

Ants Up A Tree

It was surprisingly mild. Not quite as hot as I’d expected but unfortunately, it wasn’t as tasty as I imagined it to be, mainly because the vermicelli didn’t absorb the flavors of the broth and spices.

What did absorb all the spices and broth were the frog legs. It was awesome with its tender flesh dropping of the bones with the slightest nudge. This was so delicious that I attacked it with so much gusto that the table commented on my ability to take on so much heat.


Actually, there’s a secret to it: in between bites of the oily frog legs, I munched on the cool green bittergourd served as a side. And by this time, I’ve already gone numb. 🙂

What impressed me the most was the Catfish in Chilli oil. This is the “water-cooked” fish or Shuizhuyu(pian). Before serving, the waiter came over to tell us that he’ll scoop off most of the chilli oil since it looked like we were suffering.

Catfish in Chili Oil

Anyway, this is the real Shuizhuyu which is quite unlike the toned down version of deep-fried fish in a puddle of chilli oil so commonly found in the US. It was amazingly good. An almost delicate lemony flavor was imparted to the fish which is so soft that you’d think that it was Cod and not a tough muscular catfish.

Catfish in Chili Oil

We were told that Yuxin Chuancai was one of the best places to have Sichuan food in Shanghai from multiple sources. Lunch was most enjoyable as there is nothing like a good fiery Sichuan meal to warm yourself up in the cold Autumn and Winter months.

Yuxin Chuancai is on the 3rd floor, #333, Zhao Shang Ju Square, North Chengdu Road (near Weihai Lu), Jing’an District, Shanghai, Tel: 5298 0438. Reservations highly recommended. Lunch is better if you want fish.


Posted on 17th Jan 2010 in Food and Drink, Sichuan


There Are 2 Comments


yixiaooo commented on January 19, 2010 at 1:36 pm

i wanna have a try of those beef lungs!


Lizzie commented on January 19, 2010 at 11:03 pm

I was in Shanghai for 3 years and Yuxin was DA BEST Sichuan around! Excellent choice..

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