The Public (closed)
Add: 2/F, 174 South Xiang Yang Road, Shanghai 襄阳南路174号2楼
Tel: +86 (21) 6417 1679
Hours: [dinner] Mon-Fri 6:00pm-1:00am, Sat-Sun 6:00pm-3:00am; [brunch] Sat-Sun 10:30am-3:00pm
Visited: March 2016
Will return: Yes
One thing I miss most from my two years living in Nashville, Tennessee is the Nashville hot chicken. Hattie B’s, one of the three most famous spots for Nashville hot chicken (together with Prince’s and Bolton’s), was a mere two blocks from my school, so needless to say, I went there way more often than I should.
After waiting your turn (there is always a line), you go in and pick your meat (white or dark) and choose from five heat levels (ranging from Southern to “Shut the Cluck Up!”). I usually go with 2 or 3, depending on how brave I feel.Image credit to hattieb.com
Fried to a beautiful golden brown that is often hidden under the coat of fiery cayenne, the chicken is served on a piece of white bread that turns orange from the hot and greasy drippings, speared by two little rounds of pickles and accompanied by a small bowl of cole slaw. With your senses assaulted by the spices, your mouth watering and your anticipation skyrocketing, you carry your prize to the table (or, more often than not, to the bench outside). Then, reverentially, you take your first bite, letting your tongue touch the scalding spiciness and your teeth sink through the crunchy batter and skin and into the tender, succulent meat. And you savor the way the juices flow and the heat burns in your mouth. When the heat’s getting too much, you take a bite of pickle or a forkful of slaw or tear off a piece of bread. And you press on… Trust me, it’s like a drug.
Now that I’m back in Shanghai, the only place that comes close to quenching my addiction is The Public, whose chefs are confident enough to name their dish Nashville Fried Chicken (100 for 2 pcs, 150 for half a chicken). The skin was crispy and not greasy, and the meat was wildly flavorsome. The thigh was very juicy, but the breast was a bit dry. It wasn’t as hot as I remembered, just shy of a 2 on Hattie B’s scale. Or maybe I’ve built up my heat tolerance after being back in China for two years… The mashed potato was rich, smooth, and creamy, but the little pot was a bit too dainty for the gigantic pieces of chicken. The slaw was fine, but the house-made mustard (which I don’t get at Hattie B’s) was superb. Try it!
The Public also serves excellent cocktails and mocktails. The Shiso Cooler (35), made with shiso leaves, grapefruit juice, cane syrup, lemon juice and soda, was herby, slightly bitter, and very refreshing.
The comfortable laid-back cocktail lounge is considerably more comfortable than Hattie B’s.
Still not quite Hattie B’s hot chicken, but as close as it gets in Shanghai.