Zhongshan Road has long been a hotspot of trendy little restaurants in the city, they’ve each usually got a small menu along with a few special dishes, and the latest addition, Shiji, is no exception. When you pronounce Shiji in Hangzhou dialect, it also means “eat”, that adds on some locol colour. Aside from a few side dishes and barbecue sticks, they’ve got just one main dish, roast chicken, and it’s probably quite a bit different from what you’re used to. For one, the chicken is roasted local barbecue style over a lychee wood pit, a favourite among Hangzhounese, giving it a unique fragrant taste. The technique of roasting also differs, instead of a classic rotisserie method, the chefs keep the chicken constantly moving side to side, wafting up all that sweet lychee flavour.
The result is a chicken with a crispy outside, whilst remaining nice and juicy on the inside, just how’d you want chicken to be. It’s served along side two condiments, including chili flakes and a sweet lychee sauce. Although we enjoyed the taste, we found it to be slightly on the oily side. That being said, Shiji wasn’t designed to be a healthy roast chicken joint, instead they’re clearly aiming towards the late night munchies crowd, which is especially clear since they’re open until 2am.
Other than the roast chicken, we also ate a few rather unique barbecue sticks, including the tastier than it sounds, Chicken Skin (鸡皮 8RMB), and trust me, way better than it sounds, Chicken Heart (鸡心 8RMB). The Specialty Chicken Congee (特色鸡粥 32RMB) is also worth a try.
Walking past Shiji, you’d easily mistake it for a small Japanse sushi restaurant. The narrow first floor has counter seating only, with a chef preparing the side dishes in front of you. Going upstairs, if you’re like me and are a bit on the tall side, beware, it’s pretty cramped, I had to keep my head ducked down, but I suppose that’s all part of the fun. Ordering is simple enough, scan the QR code on the table, and order through your phone. It’s only in Chinese, but their popular dishes have pictures.
Since it is a late night place, there was no shortage of beer, and they’re exclusive Ruinsbrew craft beer (18RMB) went down great with the chicken. Prices are a bit steeper than what you’d get at a local shaokao place, but for good reason, the overall quality is significantly better. A whole chicken comes in at 128RMB, at that price though, we would have loved a meatier chicken. Street parking is easy to come by in the evenings. Smoking permitted.