My Award Winning Restaurant in Shanghai, Hello Miss Dong

31st March 2016 / Shanghai

Ok, I guess it’s time to let the cat out of the bag. After years of criticising restaurants on my food blog, The Shanghai Kid, I have actually been running my very own restaurant.

Update 26th May 2016: Hello Miss Dong won CityWeekend’s editor’s pick for Outstanding South-eastAsian restaurant of the year! 🙂

Hello Miss Dong Chefs Table
Hello Miss Dong Chefs Table

My restaurant, Hello Miss Dong won Editor's Pick for Outstanding South-East Asian restaurant of 2016 by CityWeekend

In the winter of 2014, I opened my first restaurant in Shanghai, named Hello Miss Dong (after my wife, who runs the place daily). It was a massive leap of faith, diving head strong into the restaurant business as a first time sole investor, and featuring my own recipes along with a couple of dishes I had curated from Chef Dong’s (my brother-in-law). Luckily, being a creative designer myself, I saved a ton of money by designing every aspect of the restaurant, including the branding and marketing myself.

Hello Miss Dong Exterior
Hello Miss Dong Exterior

As of the time of writing this article, we have been opened for 1 year 5 months, and are doing considerably ok — Not losing money.

Truth be told, 2 years ago, the restaurant scene in Shanghai was a little bit different from what it is in spring 2016. Now, the competition between restaurants of nearly every genre and cuisine had grown so fierce that there are restaurants practically closing down every day.

Hello Miss Dong First Floor
Hello Miss Dong First Floor

I’ve been very fortunate to have been researching and writing about the business since 2013, and during this journey, learnt quite a bit about restaurateuring and also made many important friends in the business.

Wall of Fame featuring John Liu (Coquille, Scarpetta), Eduardo Vargas (Azul, and many restaurants), Anthony Zhao (Holy Cow Hotpot), David Bassan (Bocca and many more), Oyama San (Sushi Oyama), Hugo Rodriguez (Chala, and many more), Xiao Xiong (Lady Bund), Ken Walker (Bubbas BBQ)
Wall of Fame featuring John Liu (Coquille, Scarpetta), Eduardo Vargas (Azul, and many restaurants), Anthony Zhao (Holy Cow Hotpot), David Bassan (Bocca and many more), Oyama San (Sushi Oyama), Hugo Rodriguez (Chala, and many more), Xiao Xiong (Lady Bund), Ken Walker (Bubbas BBQ)

I would not have done it without the advise of my friends and peers, thank you very much, you know who you are.

The Location

Yong Kang Lu, Shanghai
Yong Kang Lu, Shanghai

Hello Miss Dong is located on a charming little street in the Former French Concession of Shanghai, called Yong Kang Lu. The street is split in two halves, with the more popular half filled with expat bars and restaurants, while the other half is more peaceful with more residences and two schools. My restaurant, Hello Miss Dong is located on the quieter half, which many of our patrons appreciate, for the serenity although being weaker in terms of foot traffic.

Hello Miss Dong 2F
Hello Miss Dong 2F

The restaurant itself is a tiny two-storey 34 square meter old Shanghainese house. The first floor housing the bar counter, kitchen and a small washroom, and the second floor seating a total of 14 patrons.

Hello Miss Dong 1F
Hello Miss Dong 1F

One of the original tenants of this shop operated a Japanese restaurant, hence there is a sushi bar counter on the first floor, of which I now use as a sort of Chefs table where we mingle with guests who dine here and eventually befriend many of them.

The Idea

The motivation behind opening my restaurant was simply to share my recipes with everyone. This was quite scary to me at first, because I am no professional trained chef, and had merely starting cooking seriously after I moved to Shanghai 10 years ago. It all started because I missed my mother’s cooking, and thus, began to try to re-create her popular dishes here in Shanghai.

After awhile, I realised that I really enjoyed cooking, and found great joy in creating delicious dishes that pleased not only myself, but friends and guests alike.

It was also a fortunate timing, as the cooking pop culture began booming on TV. Chef Gordon Ramsay began his rise to fame with the first season of Hells Kitchen and his succession of subsequent shows. They introduced me to the man, the ‘glory’ of being a chef, and led me to research on the internet days and nights on cooking.

Hello Miss Dong 2F
Hello Miss Dong 2F

Practise made perfect as I continued to cook quietly at home and collected inspiration from cooking shows, magazines, food blogs, you name it.

Fast forward to 2013, I felt I could open a restaurant with my basic repertoire of recipes, together with some of my wife and brother-in-law’s hometown recipes, utilising a quirky name to draw attention, and I did it.

Stairway to 2F
Stairway to 2F

Today, Hello Miss Dong is a destination for people to enjoy authentic Singaporean flavours, in a friendly and comfortable setting. We like to treat all customers like friends, and many have, become friends, good friends in fact.

The Food

We played it really safe when we first started in the November of 2013. We boldly opened the restaurant with just 4 dishes on the menu, and this lasted 3 months before we launched a more extended menu with 10 items; The four pioneering dishes were: Curry Chicken, Bak Kut Teh (A herbal pork rib soup from Singapore and Malaysia), a creative cold tofu dish that we called Sister’s Tofu and Chef Dong’s potato fritata. The former two remain to this day our best sellers, whilst I’ve removed the latter 2 dishes due to their difficulty to prep.

Come Spring 2016, I have launched a brand new extended menu featuring some of the most sought-after Singaporean dishes like Bak Chor Mee, Shrimp Paste Chicken and Banana Leaf Grilled Fish. Occasionally, I do pop-up specials like Mee Siam and Lor Mee, and more.

Without further ado, allow me to introduce some of our signature dishes.

Signature Curry Chicken

Rich, velvety curry with 2 chicken legs and wings.
Rich, velvety curry with 2 chicken legs and wings.

Our style of curry hails from Singapore and was adopted by the Hainanese chefs in Singapore, at the time. This is a family recipe that I had been cooking in Shanghai for many years. Each portion comes with 2 chicken legs, 2 wings and new potatoes, coated with our mildy spicy velvety curry sauce.

Bak Kut Teh (Black / White)

Available in black and white flavours.
Available in black and white flavours.

Bak Kut Teh is a full bodied herbal pork rib soup from Singapore. It was originally created by the teochew docks workers to nourish their bodies after a hard days work, and had since bcome a classic cultural dish in Singapore and Malaysia.

The black version is more popular in Malaysia with herbal notes, while the white version is more commonly had in Singapore and boasts a white peppery kick.

Mama’s Braised Pork (Tau Yu Bak)

Braised pork from my mother's recipe
Braised pork from my mother’s recipe

This is a rich Hokkien style braised pork recipe from my mum. Featuring slices of tender pork belly, resting ontop of braised tofu. Our version replaced braised chicken eggs with quail eggs because good things come in small packages. Seriously, quail eggs are better.

Sambal Kang Kong

Morning glory or water spinach, furiously stir-fried with our house-made sambal sauce which I have personally cooked for the restaurant every week since our opening.

Nonya Mixed Veggies (Zhap Cai)

Zhap Cai AKA Luo Han Zai (Arhat's vegetables)
Zhap Cai AKA Luo Han Zai (Arhat’s vegetables)

It is said that a famous chef had to make a dish during closing hours with only leftover vegetables of the day. Little did he know it would later become a house-hold favourite. Comprises of cabbage, mushrooms, wood-ear fungus and gluten balls to soak up all that beautiful gravy.

Nanyang Chicken Rice

We use only chicken thigh for our chicken rice
We use only chicken thigh for our chicken rice

My take on the classic hainanese chicken rice, using my unique cooking technique that combines western and chinese cooking methods. We only use deboned chicken thighs as they are the most flavourful and juicy part of a chicken. Asking for chicken thigh at chicken rice stalls usually command an extra price premium.

Sambal Octopus

My bold, original Spanish inspired creation
My bold, original Spanish inspired creation

My take on a classic Singaporean BBQ squid dish. My version features elevated ingredients in the form of octopus tentacles, boiled till tender and then furiously wok-fried till charred and crispy, resting ontop of a sambal-onion chutney.

Sole Fish Grilled in Banana Leaf

Smokey flavours of burnt banana leaves infused into sole filet
Smokey flavours of burnt banana leaves infused into sole filet

This is my take on a popular BBQ Stingray dish in Singapore. Here at Hello Miss Dong, we use bone-less sole filet, grilled on banana leaves and slathered with our signature sambal sauce.

Bak Chor Mee (Mee Pok)

My signature noodles that have won over the hearts of Singaporeans in Shanghai
My signature noodles that have won over the hearts of Singaporeans in Shanghai

Without a doubt, one of the most popular and sought after Singaporean noodle dish, by Singaporeans worldwide. The difficult part of the dish is in achieving the perfect balance in the noodle sauce. This is my recipe that I had developed over the years from trial and error. Flat egg noodles with minced pork, braised mushrooms, fishcakes and crispy pork lardons. Available spicy or non-spicy.

Shrimp Paste Chicken (Har Cheong Gai)

Chicken wings infused with the umami of a hundred shrimp
Chicken wings infused with the umami of a hundred shrimp

Also known as Har Cheong Gai in the cantonese dialect. Chicken wings, halved and marinated in shrimp paste, and then deep-fried to a searing crisp. Think buffalo wings, infused with the umami of a hundred shrimps. Even vegetarians have been known to succumbed to them at Hello Miss Dong.

Chef Dong’s Spiced Potatoes

Potato Medallions with Cumin and Spices
Potato Medallions with Cumin and Spices

Something new on the menu to replace the previous Potato Frittata. These are potato medallions, wok-fried in cumin, sichuan peppercorns and other aromatics to achieve a spicy smokey flavour.

Potato Frittata

China's answer to the American hash brown
China’s answer to the American hash brown

Not the Italian frittata, but a potato fritter that is signature to Yichang, Hubei. Every portion is hand juilliened on order, quickly tossed with the seasonings and flour mix before being fried with Chef Dong’s unique technique.

Conclusion

So there you have it, this is my introduction of Hello Miss Dong, a restaurant by Fred Lin aka The Shanghai Kid. Come by and say Hi if you’re in town, or better still, book a table and enjoy some of the finest food I have grown up eating, along with some of my modern interpretations of Singaporean classics.

Many people have asked if we will expand and open more stores in Shanghai, I feel that if we open more, we will lose the the soul and atmosphere that has kept many people coming back. Eventually if situation permits, we might open a bigger flagship store while retaining this location.

Our end-game plan is to move to either Hawaii or Melbourne, and restart our restaurant there. So people of Honolulu and Melbourne, stay tuned!

Author: Fred Lin

Fred “The Shanghai Kid” Lin was born in Singapore, and grew up in a family of foodies and home-cooks. He moved to Shanghai in 2007 and fell in love with the city, eventually carving a self-made career out of digital media design and development. He founded The Shanghai Kid food blog in 2013, and opened an award-winning Singaporean restaurant in 2014, which won CityWeekend’s Outstanding Southeast Asian restaurant of the year in 2016.
In 2017, he decided to reboot, and shut down all his businesses in Shanghai before moving back to Singapore with his wife.
Fred plans to immigrate to Melbourne in the near future.

Hello Miss Dong

Address
178 Yong Kang Lu

Phone
+86 021 6472 6226

Cuisine
Singaporean

City
Shanghai

Area
French Concession

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