Add: 81 Chang Shu Road, Shanghai 常熟路81号
Tel: +86 (21) 6431 5176
Hours: Mon-Fri 11:30am-10pm, Sat-Sun 11am-10pm
Visited: August 2017
Will return: Yes
Please note that this was an arranged tasting.
DODU materialized quietly in a compact, two-story space on Changshu Road early this year. In the short months since, it quickly established itself as one of the best spots for rotisserie chicken in Shanghai, bringing joy to French expats and locals alike with this beloved French comfort food.
Like the chickens DODU serves, the storefront is modest and unpretentious, but glows with warmth and familiarity. An open kitchen takes up most of the first floor. As soon as we walk in, our eyes are immediately drawn to the rotisserie oven. There is true magic in the spinning rows of plump chickens glistening on the racks, fat dripping steadily onto the tray of golden potatoes below.
If you have visited them recently, you may have noticed a newcomer in the oven amongst the chickens – a rolled and stuffed pork belly. The latest addition to DODU’s repertoire, the “roulé de porc” brings to Shanghai another staple of homey French cooking.
DODU uses organic Iberico pork belly, which is brined for one day and stuffed with a variety of spices and herbs, including sage, fennel seeds, and lemon zest. The rolled pork belly is then slow-roasted for two hours, giving it a gorgeous crackling and tender, juicy flesh.
Accompanying the stuffed pork are some of DODU’s signature sides. The dripping roast potatoes are as good as you’d expect, as is the mushroom fricassée. But my favorite is the crispy zucchini crepes, a new side dish that the chefs created especially for the pork. Delightfully crisp on the outside but soft and moist within, these thin pancakes have an abundance of zucchini bound together by the light, fluffy batter.
Lighter sides are also offered, including steamed broccoli and minted peas and carrots, helping to balance the richness of the pork.
The stuffed pork belly comes at RMB288 for a hefty portion of 1kg that serves 3-5 people, accompanied by five sauces and five sides. Reservation is required two days in advance.
But if your visit is more of a spur-of-the-moment decision, fret not, for DODU also serves a limited number of single portions, with two slices of rolled pork, two sides, and one sauce for a mere RMB88.
Alternatively, you can go for the classic rotisserie chicken, which stands out because of their carefully sourced birds. DODU uses Red Label yellow chickens raised free-range in Taiwan, free of hormones and antibiotics. Each bird weighs 2 to 2.5 kilos, certainly living up to the restaurant’s name (“dodu” is French for plump).
DODU’s rotisserie chickens fall firmly within the prescribed parameters of the form, with no crazy techniques or garnishes. And as rotisserie chickens go, these manage to hit all the nails on the head. The skin is crisp and just slightly charred here and there, the meat succulent all the way to the breasts, and the flavors rich and fragrant.
If you still have room for dessert after your rotisserie feast, DODU offers a number of well-made desserts served in Mason jars. There is a silky vanilla cream topped with raspberry coulis, and a decadent dark chocolate cake lightened with a cloud of vanilla Chantilly cream. Both are true to DODU’s French comfort roots, and immensely satisfying.