This AsiaTown spot has us digging deeper and deeper into the wide world of Shanghainese street food.
Dining at LJ Shanghai is a joyful experience — especially if you’re bringing someone along for the first time. Watching someone you love bite into the xiao long bao ($5), or soup dumplings, for the first time is like playing them your favorite song.
But the more you get to know this 10-table eatery, which opened in 2017, the deeper the connection becomes. Owner LJ greets you at the door of the casual AsiaTown joint with a joke, a smile and your takeout order.
The restaurant is an education on Shanghainese specialities such as crispy pig ears with chili sauce ($7) and exquisite, savory pan-fried noodles ($12). The experiences range from the refreshing garlic cucumber salad in a delicate vinaigrette dressing to the plump sesame-soy Shanghai meatball to the spicy chongqing noodle soup with slow-roasted beef brisket or pork belly ($15).
There’s especially joy in scooping chile into that soup until scorching — a craving I seem to have around lunchtime on Cleveland’s hottest days when I’m wearing my lightest gray suit. A perverse, lip-numbing, sweaty joy that keeps me coming back for more.ljshanghaicle.com
At the trendiest and most coveted tables in Northeast Ohio, the dishes and the vibe is an extension of the creatives in the kitchen. Get to know them as part of 2023's Best Restaurants issue. By Anthony Elder, Annie Nickoloff, Cassie Tomaselli and Patrick Williams