I’m a greedy pig, which basically means I’m greedy for all kinds of food. On the top of my die-die-must-eat list is crab roe Shanghainese rice cakes. Not necessarily easy to hunt down, even in Shanghai itself. So whenever I am in Shanghai and have time to have a meal (lunch or dinner, doesn’t matter) in the city, I would be sure to race down to Xinjishi (I like the Xin Tian Di branch) for the crab roe rice cakes (蟹粉年糕). And Xinjishi always delivers the perfect plate, no matter what season or month it is.
In fact, this dish isn’t even on the menu – you have to explicitly ask for it. And sometimes, the waiter would try to tell you, oh we don’t have this item. And then you have to insist nicely – yes, you do, please ask your manager, I just had it here last night (this is actually the truth – from my most recent Shanghai trip. Indeed, I’m that besotted).
And they do always have it, I’ve never been disappointed.
Each time the dish arrives, I have to resist the urge to clap with joy. The gorgeous pieces of crab meat and the bright orange roe, together with the dense, chewy slices of rice cake, all stunningly meld together into a words-can’t-fully-describe umami-ness. Diced ginger is interspersed throughout to balance out the entire dish, so I don’t find the dish jelat (loosely translated as overly rich) in the least. Vinegar is served on the side in a little bowl just in case. Truth be told, I can probably have an entire plate or more all to myself – but sadly, have always had to share it with at least one other person!