I was attracted by the mural on the side wall of this cafe. You'll have to see it for yourself. :)
The simple menu hanging in the window offers beer, tea, snacks, fresh juice, milk tea, noodles, popcorn, shaved ice... too bad I didn't have time to stop for longer!
From the window I also caught a glimpse of a shisha pipe.
The cafe offers free wi-fi Internet.
The name of the restaurant means "Eight Fairies Hall". Whether there're fairies here or not remains to be seen, but the Shanghainese food here is certainly very authentic and tasty! Locals say that this is one of the best restaurants in Zhujiajiao, and after eating here, I'd agree.
The restaurant entrance is unassuming (you'll have to recognise the Chinese characters, or ask for directions). Once you enter, the 1st floor is a long corridor leading to the kitchen area. Just before the kitchen door, go up the stairs to your right and you'll find a dining room with about 6-8 tables.
The menu is only in Chinese and I believe the staff might also only speak Chinese, so hopefully you have someone with you who understands the lingo!
Tea and hot water are provided for free, a lifesaver on a cold winter evening. Dinnertime starts at around 1630, we were the earliest diners on that evening.
Portions are quite generous and certainly much more value-for-money compared to other home-style Shanghainese restaurants in town. That said, the long trek out here makes it perhaps not worth the savings unless you're coming here to visit Zhujiajiao water village as well.
Favorite Dish: We had sauced duck (jia1 xiang1 jiang4 ya1, 25 RMB) as a cold appetiser, red-braised pork (hong2 shao1 rou4, 35 RMB) and also deep-fried little fish with salt and pepper (jiao1 yan2 xiao3 yu2, 10 RMB). The 1st two were exceptionally good, but the last item wasn't as good as what I'd tasted before in Xitang water village. The sauce for the sauced duck and red-braised pork is the typical Shanghainese kind, very thick, traditional and a bit on the sweet side. I would recommend that you order a bowl of rice to eat along with the sauce, it's THAT good.
Other good recommendations to try would be the oil-fried freshwater shrimp (you2 bao4 xia1, 25 RMB) and red-braised river eel (hong2 shao1 he2 man4, seasonal price). The shrimp comes unshelled, but you shouldn't need to peel them (they're crispy enough), just eat them altogether.
There're so many Granny's Dumplings in Zhujiajiao, you'll be spoilt for choice. This traditional snack has become a tourist commodity -- everyone is jumping on the bandwagon and saying that theirs is the oldest, tastiest, most traditional, most famous... whatever!
Anywhere you look, there'll be the namesake "granny" sitting prominently in the storefront, making her dumplings while chit-chatting away with the staff and any other people who happen to be in the vicinity. Almost every store will have the obligatory photos plastered all over the place, proudly announcing that they were interviewed by some TV programme or magazine, etc. Or perhaps they just did some nifty Photoshopping... ;)
This particular one that I've picked out is the tastiest one going by what locals say. Don't get sidetracked by all the fancy packaging on the various stores, just remember the address and street number.
Dumplings in many parts of China are triangular-shaped but the ones here are somewhat cylindrical and pillow-shaped. Each dumpling is bound by 4 separate pieces of straw (some say to increase the fragrance) rather than the usual string, before being steamed to tasty perfection.
Another local specialty sold here is the zha1 rou4 -- literally "bound-up pork". This is pork which has both lean and fatty parts, which's simply bound up in the same leaves as the dumplings (but without the glutinous rice) and then cooked in the local sauce. Priced at only 1 RMB per piece, this is an inexpensive little snack.
The food can be vacuum-packed for free, so no worries about bringing them back home.
Favorite Dish: There're various kinds of filling for the dumplings: pork, pork with chestnut, pork with salted egg yolk, red bean paste, plain etc. Price ranges from 1 RMB for the plain and non-meat fillings, to 2.5 RMB for pork, 3.5 RMB for pork with chestnut, and 4 RMB for pork with salted egg yolk. The best is said to be the pork with salted egg yolk, so that's the one to buy if you're only hungry enough for one.
Don't forget to get the zha1 rou4 as well!