I have been living in Ang Mo Kio for nearly 30 years but it is a shame that I have yet to discover all the good food in my hood. But it also means that I am very loyal because I can eat the same stall for so many years (ahem, hello boyfriend). So that day, the boyfriend and I were trying to look makan places we haven’t been before and many of our foodie friends recommended Shanghai Ren Jia.
I called to make a reservation in the afternoon at 7pm and the boss asked me to come earlier at 6.30pm to avoid the queue. Upon reaching at 6.15pm, we were very surprised that there were already a queue outside the small restaurant under the void deck. And when the door opens, regardless of whether you make reservation or not, you just have to follow the queue to enter the restaurant.
Only 8 tables in the restaurant, 4 big round ones (for 8 pax and above), 2 medium ones (for 4 pax) and 2 square ones (for 2 pax). The menu only has 16 dishes but it is so difficult to order. Not because there is nothing that excited me. Or rather, there are many things we wanted to try because of the good reviews.
The first dish we ordered was the Shanghai Spring Roll ($7.20/6 pcs) which was highly recommended by the boss. Golden brown on the outside, and well cooked with braised cabbage inside. Crispy and moist!
Shanghai Drunken Chicken ($10) had the chicken steeped in rice wine, a refreshing chilled dish. If you love wine, you will like this as it has a strong flavour.
Must try their Shanghai Steamed Bun ($6/5 pcs). The delicate dumplings are comfortingly warm and filled with well marinated minced pork and a rich stock. When popped whole, the xiao long bao brings a full burst of flavours and you don’t even need the vinegar or ginger.
We shared a bowl of Chicken Chop with Shallot Noodle ($6) as well which was very fragrant because of the shallot oil.
The most expensive dish we had was Stir Fried Pea Sprouts ($12) which was stir fried till a crunchy green.
The highlight for us was their Shanghai Fried Bun ($8.40) which was AMAZING. The boyfriend was telling me before dinner not to order their shen jian bao. Then I took some time to persuade him and tell him that he would be missing out if he refused to order this dish because the whole world was telling me how good it was. I am so glad that we decided to order this because THIS SHEN JIAN BAO IS REALLY GOOD. The boss simply pan fried their baos with some oil in the pan, covered the lid so that the top part gets steamed. So when I bite onto it, there is the fluffly bao texture with crispy base. And of course, the marinated meat is also a winner.
Having a meal here feels like I am having a meal at a friend’s house because the boss is really friendly and will share with you more about the dishes when he is free. When he is not taking order, he is busy making the skin for the bao. I like it that food here is made ala minute so everything you get is hot from the stove. But because of this, you probably need to wait a while for the food to arrive. And it doesn’t help if the restaurant is crowded. So better to go early and make your order quick!
Address: Blk 151, Ang Mo Kio Ave 5 #01-3046
Opening hours: 11am to 3pm, 6.30pm to 10pm, Closed on Mondays