Join Culinary Backstreets

Sign up with email

or

Already a member? Log in.

Log in to Culinary Backstreets

Trouble logging in?

Not a member? Sign up!

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

These days, you won’t find anyone reaching for their wallet while dining out in Shanghai. Cash has become almost obsolete as virtual currencies corner every last slice of the retail payment market. QR codes and app-based systems are the new normal, even for transactions less than the equivalent of US$1 (like our beloved breakfast street food staple, the jianbing).

According to a recent New York Times article, mobile payments in China hit US$5.5 trillion in 2016. Yes, with a “T”. And 2017 is sure to be another banner year as AliPay, WeChat Wallet, Apple Pay and others continue to fight for market share. We’re used to hearing questionable China statistics, but this one is easy to see (and believe) while going about our daily lives here.

The first small-scale business we noticed getting on board the app-based payment train was 319 Noodle House, a small noodle shop in the former French Concession neighborhood. Back then (around two years ago), it was surprising and struck us as extremely modern that a business that had previously been cash only, eschewing credit cards because of the set-up costs and recurring fees, had leapfrogged directly to mobile payments.

Today, with trillions of dollars of transactions floating around between friends, businesses and online shopping, Shanghai citizens would be just as surprised to find any shopkeepers refusing digital payments; indeed, more cafés and stalls are putting up ‘no cash’ signs.

QR codes and app-based systems are the new normal in Shanghai.

At 319 Noodle House, the Gu family has been serving authentic Shanghainese noodles for the last five years. It’s a family affair, with their 30-something daughter manning the cash register, ahem, payment screens, and mom and pop out chatting with customers, coordinating the kitchen and dealing with suppliers. Their elderly neighborhood friends help out during the lunch rush, giving the place a charming yet buzzing vibe as local office workers file in like clockwork.

The menu is stocked with Shanghainese classics, and everything can be ordered either dry (半 bàn) or with soup (汤tāng), depending on personal preference (or perhaps the weather). Many guests additionally order páigǔ niángāo (排骨年糕) as a side. The classic local dish consists of a breaded, fried pork cutlet paired with a crispy-fried glutinous rice cake – you’ll find Shanghai’s version of Worcestershire sauce in yellow bottles tableside to brighten up the oily treat.

Our go-to dishes include the zhá jiàng miàn (炸酱面), which lands you a bowl of wheat noodles topped with stir-fried minced pork mixed with fermented soy bean paste, tiny bits of tofu and bok choy. Although it’s a take on a dish associated with Beijing and the flavors up north, it’s also mixed with julienned and fried spring onions, which is practically a must for any proper Shanghainese noodle dish. Another favorite is the là ròu miàn (辣肉面), in which the wheat noodles are topped with chunks of diced pork marinated in chile sauce that is paired with a sweeter soy-based sauce for the local palate.

Even though Mrs. Gu was a Shanghainese teacher previously, she’ll hand over English menus to foreigners who look lost. You can order either by dish or by topping, so you’re free to mix and match as you please with items like braised duck leg, mushrooms, stewed pig trotters and pork intestines.

They’ve just taken over the real estate shop next door, so don’t be discouraged if the place looks jammed – they’ll find you a seat. And, they’ll also still take cash if you aren’t set up with a mobile wallet just yet (you Luddite).

Get directionsExport as KML for Google Earth/Google MapsOpen standalone map in fullscreen modeCreate QR code image for standalone map in fullscreen modeExport as GeoJSONExport as GeoRSSExport as ARML for Wikitude Augmented-Reality browser
319 Noodle House

loading map - please wait...

319 Noodle House 31.209146, 121.458406 (Directions)
 
319 Noodle House (319面馆)
Address: 永嘉路319号(近襄阳南路)
319 Yongjia Lu, near Xiangyang Nan Lu.
Telephone: +86 15801886986
Hours: Daily 7:30am-8pm
English & Chinese menu

Related stories

May 4, 2017

Fly By Jing: Sichuan Supper Club

By Jamie Barys
Shanghai -- Whether we’re heading to Sichuan province for a little culinary vacation or just looking for the best bowl of dan dan mian in the city, there’s one person we call for dining recommendations: Jenny Gao. Born in Chengdu and raised in Canada, Gao’s family still lives in Sichuan, and since moving to Shanghai…
June 12, 2017

Goat Cheese and Fried Honeybees: Shanghai's Top 5 Yunnan Restaurants

By Jamie Barys
Shanghai -- Because of its location, topography and climate, Yunnan province resembles little of what many Westerners think of as “China.” The north is home to mountainous forests full of wild mushrooms and tribes tending goats, while down south tropical flowers and fruits grow in the hot, humid lowlands. More than 25 of China’s 55…
August 28, 2012

Lao Difang: Oodles of Noodles

By Kyle Long
Shanghai -- Does anyone say “use your noodle” anymore? Our grandparents used to admonish us with that idiom when we didn’t think a situation through, but the phrase seems to have mostly gone out of fashion along with polyester suits. However, deep in the former French Concession, one esteemed food vendor is definitely using her noodle to…