We had planned on writing Shanghai in 21 meals – but as we ate so much the first night we weren’t hungry for food at all until dinner… so it looks like it will be more like Shanghai in 5 meals. Meal number 2 was at 1221.

Last time I was in Shanghai, 1221 was a favourite dinner destination for the expat crowd I spent time with. Deft handling of Shanghainese food, without the heavy oil and soy sauce that was so common elsewhere. Before heading to Shanghai this time, we found 1221 in our guidebooks, still receiving rave reviews so we made reservations as soon as we got to Shanghai. 10 years ago, the restaurant was down a dirt road in an area that was full of hoarding with not much around. Now, the area is rife with high rises, hotels, a huge overpass, and the restaurant is down a paved lane behind a Howard Johnson’s Apartment Hotel. It’s expanded too – instead of the one big room, it also has a ‘party room’ across the way with more tables.

We started with a clear green tea with goji berries and white mu-er (a crunchy sort of fungus, more palatable than it sounds).

Next up was a sichuan chilli beef with sesame bread. Flavoured with sichuan peppers, with a sweetish soy based sauce. The sesame bread (deep fried mantou, rolled in sesame seeds) was fresh and piping hot. Deeeelicious! Very moreish (our top criteria!).

This was the pork dish – cabbage, red pepper, pork… wrapped in thin pancakes. Soooo moreish. Alice’s favourite dish of the night.

We ordered guota tofu by accident – Alice meant to order a different tofu dish. Was okay. Tofu very nice, fresh and firm. But a bit salty. and the ham/spam could have been left off.

Barbara’s favourite dish of the night – the kungpao shrimp on the left. Crunchy batter on the outside, crisp, juicy shrimp on the inside. On the right was river shrimp plain sauteed. Bo-ring. After kung-pao, you can’t go back.

We had a pretty full table – after all it isn’t every day we get to eat in Shanghai! But when we asked for the dessert menu, I think the waitresses were horrified. One of them, a little unbelieving, asked ‘they want dessert?’ On second thought we passed.

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