Best of Shanghai is a new category on the site that will be updated from time to time. WARNING: This is one man’s opinion — but it’s usually right.
I broke a longstanding personal maxim over the weekend: Never utter the word “dog” while ordering at a Chinese restaurant. But at Orange Dog, a snack shop in the basement of Jiu Guang City Plaza, the big new mall on Nanjing Xi Lu next to Jing’an Temple, it’s hard not to — hot dogs are their specialty. And I’d rather eat a phallus of ground up pig snouts than poor old Rover any day. (Actually, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, hot dogs are not made of snouts and other sundry swine parts. They are made of “specially selected meat trimmings of beef and/or pork.” And I can’t think of any reason why the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council would lie about something like that. Oh, wait — yes I can.)
The best hot dogs I’ve had in China were cooked by my friend Luis at one of his famous back porch barbecues, which always include — curiously — several boxes of Kittyland cookies. Don’t tell Luis I told you this: His hot dogs usually come burned. But, in China, you take what you can get. I once ordered a hot dog in Lanzhou (I know, I know) at one of those Western knock-off restaurants where everything looks kind of Western but ends up being really weird. I got a big bun that looked even bigger because of what was inside it. It was a small Chinese sausage. You know, the reddish, kind of sweet ones. It was about the size of my middle finger, ironically. They sliced it in half length-wise and placed the two pieces end to end. Even then it didn’t fill up the bun. Making things worse, the meat was lathered in mayonnaise. Mayonnaise! Where was I? Britain?
So, I was excited to stumble upon Orange Dog, where everything looked and tasted normal.
The hot dogs are plump and juicy and they actually end up looking like the photos featured on their wall. I ordered a Chicago Bull (pictured) that came smothered with dill pickles, mushrooms, onions and a couple slices of tomato. They served it to me on a tray with squeeze bottles of ketchup and mustard and a jar of relish — the way a hot dog should be served. (And, yes, they also gave me a squeeze bottle of mayonnaise. Lots of Brits in Shanghai.) Other dogs on the menu include the Texas Ranch Smokies, the Mexican Fire Breather and the Orange Dog Classic. The Fire Breather is the most expensive, coming in at a very tasty price of RMB 14.80 (less than $2).
Orange Dog is kind of similar to an Orange Julius, if you are familiar with the chain common in American shopping malls. They have a nice selection of smoothies that are well worth their RMB 14.80 price tag. The menu also includes some set dinners — like curry chicken — and other sandwiches, like a French Style Tuna Sandwich and a Philadelphia Style Steak Sandwich (being from Pennsylvania, I’m always wary of such claims from anywhere beyond the Delaware Valley — for me, nothing is better than Jim’s Steaks on South Street). I can recommend Orange Dog’s Potato Wedges (RMB 8 per box), as well. Unfortunately, I have nothing to report on their BBQ Hot Wings (RMB 6.80 per pair) — the fact that they are sold “per pair” scared me off. Orange Dog also claims to have “fresh” lemonade — and they serve it hot.
Orange Dog, Jiu Guang City Plaza basement, Nanjing Xi Lu, next to Jing’an Temple, across from Jing’an Park. Free delivery for orders over RMB 50. Call 021.62883212.
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