If you excuse the terrible photos in advance, I’ll thank you kindly. And yes, I am reviewing the local Chinese.
- Food (8/10)
- Value (10/10)
- Service (8/10)
It has been 24 hours since returning to England and I have already eaten Shephards Pie and a hearty serving of Brussell Sprouts. It is also cold and dark, which I love. I don’t quite love the fact that I have to quarantine, and every time I step near my mother she takes a dramatic step back as if I am positively radiating disease. To be fair, I might be, aeroplanes are germy places indeed. God, I can just imagine that smug satisfaction my mum would get if she was right and I literally WAS riddled with Covid-19. I can see her now, tutting dissapointedly at my father, who is now deeply regretting finishing off my abandoned glass of wine. I’m sure none of this will happen, it would be rather annoying if it did. So basically, I have a decent amount of time on my hands for a while.
I spent the best part of a year in Spain. Valencia for a bit, then Mallorca. I have a lot of opinions on Spanish cuisine in general (but thats for another post). I’ve eaten out A LOT in Palma, maybe too much, but who am I to say? And who are you to judge? From my various escapades, I can confirm that there is one restaurant that rules all in Palma, a Chinese restaurant called Shi Shan Xuan. I visit quite often (three times in November, according to Google, my personal stalker). But if I go all the time, why had it not occured to me to review it? Is it because its a Chinese? Does that make me racist? No, Elly, you’re not a racist. If anything, Chinese restaurants need to be the ones getting constantly reviewed. We all know that Chinese is basically everyones favourite food, and the range of quality in these restaurants differs greatly. So here I am, reviewing a Chinese. Because it is the best Chinese, and it puts all other stupid pretentious restaurants in Mallorca to SHAME. Shi Shan Xuan doesn’t need any publicity anyway, its busy ALL THE TIME, with literal crowds forming outside to pick up deliveries or queue for a table 15 minutes before closing (I have been guity of this).
Obviously, its not the ambience of Shi Shan Xuan that keeps me coming back, its the food (and the prices). The menu reads like an epic novel, as do most Chinese places, with prices around €4 – €8 for meats and sides. Their gyozas are €4. I counted nine delicious homemade gyozas with thick and chewey dough and a delicious filling for that price. Nine. They’re messily made, not the uniform (clearly from frozen) gyozas you pay €6 or more for in the hipster asian “fUsIoN” restaurants on the island. I paid €7 for five gyozas once, it was so depressing. They tasted exactly like the ones you buy in bulk from Makro in the freezer section for €2.99. In short, Shi Shan Xuan are the real deal. They also do a thing called “Pan Chino”, Chinese bread. Its just a deep fried mini baguette. It is essentially a doughnut. Its 50 cents!
Ok, so Shi Shan Xuan isn’t exactly the most stylish restaurant around. It is essentially a stark room, with tables. Its functional, and during the pandemic it has done the most i’ve seen to ensure social distancing than any other restaurant. They’ve moved all their tables to the side of the room, using massive barriers of corregated plastic to form makeshift cubicles, secured by gaffa tape. It looks ghastly, but the restaurant had nothing to lose in the first place, aesthetics-wise. Also, its kind of a massive fuck you to every restaurant in Palma that thinks they’re hot shit. The sort of restaurants that have a wall of grass, neon lights and a strong Instagram presence no one cares about. Shin Shan Xuan literally has an old storage fridge filled with vegetables and ingredients IN the dining room, and its STILL busier than every other restaurant in Palma. They even have posters up advertising events in Palma from 2016. They honestly don’t give a fuck.
Their sizzling beef is the nicest i’ve had anywhere. Where do they get their beef from? Why is it so soft? It melts in your mouth, and its €7 for a massive plate. Their crispy duck is to die for (coming in slightly more pricey at a whopping €8). Where else can you pay that amount for huge serving of duck, skin crispy as anything but with tender meat and a deep and rich plummy sauce. Lets not pretend like Europeans cook duck better than the Chinese. Duck is rank, unless its skin is crispy. No one wants that heavy film of slippery fat when its cooked European style. Their chicken noodles are €4.50, and can easily feed 2-3 people. They’re full of chicken, they’re oily (in the best possible way) and delicious. The fried aubergine is outstanding, a huge plate of lightly fried, crispy on the outside yet so soft on the inside aubergine with a deliciously sweet and tangy sauce to accompany. Cooked. To. Perfection.
Last time I was here I experienced that impending shame one feels when you receive your food and realise what a gluttonous pig you are, with eyes far bigger than your stomach. So much food comes out, a banquet fit for four, and theres two of you sitting like gormless plebs, reassuring each other with “Well if we don’t eat it all, we can take it home with us.” The beautiful part about it is that it was only less than €25 worth of food sitting in front of us. I’ve spent far more than that at restaurants and come away still hungry. And at Shi Shan Xuan, you leave feeling like you got a ridiculously good deal, and I have enough for lunch tomorrow.
A lot of the time when one pays the bill and leaves a restaurant there is the occasional bad taste in your mouth. A certain main course could’ve been pretty shit, but you paid €14 for it, oh well. Or the food you have is nothing special, an average salad you could’ve cooked a home, a steak you paid a decent amount of money for and it wasn’t quite cooked to your liking. But at least when you go to a Chinese restaurant, you know you literally cannot replicate the flavours at home, You have no idea how they did it. My boyfriend is a chef, and says no matter how many times he tries to cook Chinese food, it never tastes how it does at a Chinese restaurant. Its just not the same. And its not like i’m going to spend time drying out a bloody duck to get its skin all crispy, or making my own gyoza (although shout out to my friend Verity who literally did make Gyoza in lockdown, they looked insane.)
Of course, Chinese food cannot be eaten all the time, you’d get absolutely sick of it, and you’d probably get diabetes, but it can be eaten healthily too. Shin Shan Xuan have a wide variety of tasty soups, asian salads and plates of steamed chinese vegetables between €2.50 to €5. Lets be honest though, who goes out for dinner and orders healthy food anyway? Apart from rich people, obviously. The sort of people who would meet up for a superfood salad and a smoothie, or spends money on granola and yoghurt. Sorry if you’re the sort of person that does this, but i’m sure there was something better than you could order from that menu.
This restaurant is the best value restaurant in Palma. In a sea of gentrified restaurants that value style over substance, Shin Shan Xuan provides a relief. Its literally just a room, that serves incredibly delicious, incredibly cheap food that you would not be able to replicate at home, even if you tried. You’re not going to go here for drinks, or to celebrate someones graduation, but it fulfills its own purpose.
In regards to the photos, they’re mainly taken off google reviews. Some are mine, but I kind of forget to take photos when i’m here for the most part.
Restaurante Chino Shin Shan Xuan, Carrer Uetam, 3, 07006 Palma, Illes Balears, Spain