Review: 上海人家 (Shanghai Ren Jia) Eatery

On the advice of the mother’s friend regarding xiao long bao, the mother and J. headed towards Sembawang to check out a Shanghai-ese eatery. It’s located next to and outlet of Han’s, which recently has a big “Open 24hrs” banner hanging outside.

Shanghai Ren Jia Sign

When J. first saw the sign from the car, he thought it said, “工人海家 “, which made absolutely no sense. Anyway, on closer look, the place was quite deserted for a Sunday evening with only one table of 5 present, especially in comparison to Han’s next door. The fact that the staff was from Shanghai was made evident by their Shanghai accent (no, not just Chinese accent, Shanghai accent)

The chairs were rattan, the table cloth old-fashioned, and some of the ceiling lights were off, giving the place an old, worn-down feel. Not the best way to start a meal. Mother pointed out that it wasn’t so nice for the cookery to not be segregated from the eating area, especially for a Chinese cookery, but J. didn’t think that was a problem. Anyway, the focus is on the food, so J. and Mother ignored the surroundings and ordered some food.

四季豆 (Four Season Beans) ($5.00)
Shanghai Ren Jia Sijidou

A simple stir-fried dish with chili, fairly crisp and tasty, if a little oily. Mother thought it would be a more complicated version of the dish, and pointed out that she could easily stir-fry some of these beans at home. In J.’s opinion, hardly worth $5.00 for such a small portion.

Fish Slices (whatever the name was) ($12.00)

Shanghai Ren Jia Fish Slices

This was not on the menu but was recommended by the wait-staff there. It turned out to be a dish with multiple slices of dory (J. thinks) with green beans and some mu-er. There was definitely a touch of Chinese wine in it. Fairly tasty, and went down well with the rice.

A bowl of rice costs $0.50. Normal rice, not fragrant, not hard, not dry. Just… normal.

馄饨汤 (Wanton Soup) ($3.00)

Shanghai Ren Jia Wanton

There were a large number of small wantons inside the soup, which was bland with a possible bit of MSG. Not bad for $3.00, and was quite nice, if unspectacular.

煎包 (Pan Fried Pork Bun) ($7.20 for 6)

Shanghai Ren Jia Jian Bao

This was nice. Crispy, rather chewy on the outside and juicy on the inside. Mother says that it’s not that good, especially compared to authentic Shanghai or Taiwanese fried buns.

锅贴 (Pan Fried Pork Dumpling) (4.80 for 8)

Shanghai Ren Jia Guotie

These weren’t that great. The skin was too hard and each dumpling a tad on the small side.

小笼包 (Xiao Long Bao / Soup Dumplings) ($4.80 for 5)

Shanghai Xiao Long Bao

These are quite good. The skin consistency was just right such that it doesn’t break on picking up with the chopsticks, yet not thicky, floury or excessively chewy. On making a small hole in the side of the xiaolongbao, the soup inside gushed out, and everything down to the ginger and vinegar went nicely together.

The waiting time is ridiculously long. For a place that’s only serving two tables (the aforementioned table of 5, and J’s table of 2), there were long breaks between each dish. J. wonders what it’ll be like if there were a few more customers… say… 2 more tables of 4. Would he have had to wait for half an hour instead of 15min?

It might be worth going to Shanghai Ren Jia if you stay in the region, have lots of time to spare and aren’t anal about the ambience. The xiao long bao at this place is pretty good, but on the whole, given the [lack of] ambience, [long] serving times and [small] serving sizes, J. thinks he’ll probably go to Din Tai Fung instead.

上海人家 (Shanghai Ren Jia)
906B Upper Thomson Road
Springleaf Garden
Singapore 787110
Tel: 6456 7752
Open: Daily 12noon – 10pm

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