Dining in Shanghai at Dadong

Dadong, a popular Beijing restaurant chain, opened their first branch in Shanghai to great acclaim.

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While famous for their Peking duck, the Shanghai branch of Dadong has also compiled a menu that features many specialties from Shanghai and surrounding regions. All of this with exquisite presentation and attentive service.

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The restaurant is located in a business tower adjacent to the Réel mall in the popular Jing’an district. The interior feels industrial but has many design touches that elevate it and add sophistication.

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Table settings are high-quality but playful. The menu is a nearly 100-page book with a different dish featured on each page with full-color photos that look like they have come from an art magazine rather than a restaurant menu.

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Dishes arrived at a rapid pace, almost without consideration to the limited space on the table. The first dish was a drunken chicken, marinated and served cold. The meat was succulent and tender, a refreshing start to the meal.

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The next dish was described as “pickled lettuce” but we decided this is a bit of a misnomer. They are pickles but I think they are pickled melons or gourds of some sort. Served with ground goji berries and fresh basil, this was a pleasant taste with a crunchy texture.

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The next dish was a tray of grilled, mashed eggplant with sesame paste – essentially, babaganouj, served on fried wonton wrappers. The flavor profile was not as strong as with a Middle Eastern version of the dish but it speaks to how there are some silk road influences in Chinese cuisine.

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A few minutes later, two chefs appeared near our table to skin the roast duck. The chef doing the cutting was supervised by a senior chef. The mahogany color of the skin was flawless.

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True to the authentic style, the skin was served with a thin layer of meat still attached. In Thailand, for example, the skin is usually completely separated from the meat. I prefer this traditional approach. Each diner had their own dish of nine accompaniments from hoisin sauce to white pepper to shredded green onion and daikon radish matchsticks. We could add these to the duck skin in fresh crepe-thin pancakes. Superb.

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Matsutake mushrooms stewed in spring water and served in a hot stone bowl. This was a let-down. While the mushrooms were nice, the broth tasted pretty much like spring water… and not much else. The faux-Christmas decorations also were off-putting. We should have just skipped on this particular dish.

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The next dish made up for it, though. These were oat flour rolls filled with Bolognese sauce and served with celery leaves. This is another “silk road” dish as oat flour is used to make noodles in western China, further along the historic trading route to central Asia. The Bolognese sauce also speaks to the influences that run both ways.

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A specialty from Suzhou, a region nearby Shanghai, is the squirrel-shaped deep-fried mandarin fish with sweet and sour sauce. The boneless fish is carved in a cross-hatch pattern, covered with egg yolk and deep fried. Afterwards, it is doused with sweet and sour sauce. This version was appealing although the sauce was a bit heavy and obscured the tender flavor of the fish ever so slightly.

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The next dish was a clever play on another local specialty, the lion’s head meatballs. A classic of Huaiyang cuisine which is found in Jiangsu province (of which Suzhou is a part), the lion’s head meatballs are oversized meatballs usually served with cabbage or other vegetables. One of the versions is served stewed in a broth. The clever play on this is that the meatball and broth were served “en papillote” on top of hot stones. A few star anise rested on the stones, releasing their spicy fragrance.

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The bags were untied in front of us, opening to reveal the pale pink meatball. If I recall correctly, our version was pork with crab meat. The meat was tender and very full of flavor, a delicacy that was as playful as it was flavorful.

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The next dish was thinly-sliced spring bamboo shoots sautéed with potherb mustard. This earthy dish provided a nice contrast to the meatball’s delicacy.

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A large bowl of stewed amaranth with mushroom slices and pear balls. This was a clever dish. The amaranth is a chard-like vegetable with an earthy flavor and a red color to the stems that tinges the broth a pretty pink. The pear balls add a sweet crispness that is a perfect foil for the earthy softness of the vegetables.

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To conclude the meal, we had a plate of steamed dumplings filled with “three delicacies”. I didn’t find out what those delicacies were but they were delicious. At this point, we were getting tremendously full and could have done with two or three fewer dishes.

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As we called for the bill, the server delivered a plate of fresh Chinese lychees nestled in a bed of ice with wisps of “smoke” from dry ice rising like the special effects in a martial arts costume drama.

Overall, Dadong proved to be a must-visit. And a must-visit with a large group, so you can try as many dishes as possible. If I had been dining with only one other person, we would have missed out on so many tasty things to eat. The attention to detail, presentation and overall service were impressive.

Dadong
Reel Mall
5/F, 1601 Nanjing Xi Lu near Changde Lu
南京西路1601号越洋广场5楼, 近常德路
Phone: 3253 2299
Open daily

 

The Long Delay to Shanghai

After three busy days of meetings in Hong Kong, I made the over-optimistic travel plan to catch a 7:15 pm flight from Hong Kong to Shanghai in order to deliver a training at 9:00 am the following day. Given the air traffic congestion in China, especially into Shanghai, that proved a painful mistake.

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My flight was scheduled on Dragonair, a subsidiary of Cathay Pacific that operates more of the local and regional flights, especially to China. When I checked in at the airport about 90 minutes before departure, the agent said the flight was showing on time, even though all other flights to Shanghai were showing massive delays.

Sure enough, about five minutes before boarding time, the departure was rolled back two hours. Apologies were made and vouchers worth about US$10 were offered. (In fact, the agent told me I could just show my boarding pass at any restaurant in the airport to receive the discount; that turned out to not be the case.)

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At the revised departure time of about 9:30 pm, the delay was suddenly extended another two hours to 11:30 pm. While I understand that there is a lot of confusion and uncertainty about when the departure times will be (the captain later explained we initially had been given a 3:30 am departure slot) it seems clear that they knew the 9:30 pm departure was not realistic and it should have been revised earlier.

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Finally, we started boarding about 11:00 pm and pushed back not too much after 11:30. We were in the air quickly and on our way for the two-hour flight. When I checked in online, I was able to get a bulkhead row, albeit a middle seat, so enjoyed at least a bit of extra leg room. The flight was full.

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Dinner was served – they actually even handed out a simple menu. The started was a shrimp and angel-hair pasta salad. The main courses were steamed sole with bean curd and black bean sauce over rice, or a pork with apple cider stew and fusilli pasta, which I chose. The pork was okay for airplane food, nothing special. Dessert was Haagen-Dazs ice cream, which is always nice.

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When we landed in Shanghai, the only gates still available were the remote stands in the cargo area, which is quite on the opposite side of the airport from our normal terminal. While I didn’t complain too much – at least I was able to exit via stairs and get a nice picture of a UPS 747 freighter – the bus ride took more than 15 minutes, literally around the perimeter of the airport.

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The upside was that the immigration queue was short as we had arrived so late. It did take another ten minutes for our luggage to arrive and the taxi queue also took about fifteen minutes as there are few cars that late. I finally arrived at my hotel room at 3:30 am and was downstairs in the meeting room at 8:00 am.

It was a long day, but not too bad. I had a good group of students, staff level learning the basics of presentation skills. They all pushed themselves outside their comfort zone, delivering in English even though for many of them, it is a struggle. One girl was petrified and after her three-minute introduction presentation, was nearly in tears. Everyone gave her a lot of positive feedback about being brave enough to face her fears. Was very moving.

 

Shanghai Page Built

Ever since moving from Xanga a year ago, I’ve been slowly working on building my WordPress site into a proper website instead of just a blog.

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I made another step in that direction today by creating a page for all my entries on Shanghai, based on a trip I took there a year and a half ago. It looks like I’ll be back to China (and to Beijing) this summer on business, so hopefully can add some new entries.

 

Food in Hong Kong: Shanghai Min

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While in Hong Kong, we took a break from Cantonese food to have some Shanghainese cuisine, dining at Shanghai Min on the 11th floor of Times Square.

P1280488This beautiful restaurant has a swanky interior with tastefully embroidered tablecloths and elegant decorative touches.

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Our meal began with the “signature pan-fried crispy pork soup buns” or sheng jiang bao. These were good but not quite as good as the ones we had in Shanghai back in November 2012. This version felt like they had been made a bit before and sat for a while – the inside of the dough was a little gummy from the moisture of the filling.

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Next arrived a crispy scallion sesame cake, a carb fest that was much less heavy than you might imagine.

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Another classic was the spicy tofu with minced pork. This is almost more of a Hunan style dish, to my mind. It was tasty, though, spicy but not unbearably so.

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The standout was the “straw-tied pork belly” with Chinese steamed buns. Not only was the pork belly exceedingly tender but the neatly cut squares wrapped with straw (not edible) was pleasing to look at.

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So nice that it deserves a second shot. If only I had wiped that drip of sauce off the plate before taking the picture!

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Final dish was an interesting stir fry of small disks made from rice cake (like Japanese mochi) called chao nian gao. It is braised with scallions and pork in a savory sauce.

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Braised Shanghai cabbage (bok choy, I think) with shredded bean curd sheets and mushrooms. The sheets have the texture of very thin, fresh pasta. A nice clean finish to the meal.

Overall, I was very pleased with Shanghai Min. I first ate there several years ago and it is still every bit as enjoyable. If you are looking for a break from Cantonese cuisine, this is a worthwhile place to visit.

Shanghai Odds and Ends

Oh, Shanghai, you really do have such interesting things to see, don’t you? My trip there was full of odd moments, funny signs (not all of which were intentional), beautiful scenes, and colorful images that I will long remember.

A trio of signs in a housing estate meant to encourage residents to respect the greenery. Translations into English were a bit questionable: “You need spicery and I protection” (maybe relative to variety being the spice of life?); “Meet with life and green counterparts”; and “Treat plants wall and get good return” (okay, I kind of understood that one).

“Assists the happy building?” Sorry, come again?

We saw several health clinics with rather blunt names. Here is the Diarrhea Clinic. Okay, I guess that is easier to say than “Gastrointestinal Distress Clinic”.

Random advertisement: “Have duck, must have suck!!”

Street food! We passed a shop specializing in ham. They were preparing for a delivery, strapping ten smoked and dried pig legs to the back of a bicycle.

 

Roasted corn and sweet potatoes sold on the street. Perfect for cool weather! On the right, Daniel tries one. Sadly, I forgot to get a picture of Jason, too.

Lots of modern vehicles in Shanghai, but also a lot of people using pretty old (and inventive) methods of conveyance.

Wait a minute, is that a large stuffed bear in that cart?

Almost anything can fit on the back of a bicycle, even if it means that the passenger has to walk alongside.

The antiques market (“antiques” really needs quotes around it because few things are really antiques) is a great place for kitsch. My favorite must-have item:

Yes, a portrait of Chinese Communist Party heroes that changes images as you move. From the left: Jiang Zemin, Mao Zedong, and Deng Xiaoping. I guess the American equivalent would be Lincoln, FDR, and Kennedy?

Bird ownership is very popular in Chinese culture. I passed this guy standing on the street and couldn’t figure out at first glance what was in his hands. 

Lots of effort made to beautify the city. In front of a new set of retail shops that are about to open, someone decided to build a little fence around a fire hydrant, which they must have thought to be unsightly. The beautify the fence, they tied small artificial plants to it. Of course the tags are still on the plants, making the whole thing as ugly as could be. Oh, and I checked: the artificial plants were made in the USA. No, just kidding… they were made in China.

There were lots of buildings being built and shops being remodeled. I found this one interesting just because of the mirror.

Beautiful small park in the midst of the French Concession. It definitely has a European feel to it, doesn’t it?

Maybe it was just the chilly autumn weather, but love was everywhere in Shanghai.

Lots of people were taking wedding photos. It is common in a lot of Asian cultures to take your wedding photos before the day of the wedding. Maybe there is a rush of weddings in the next few months, to sneak them in during the auspicious Year of the Dragon?

We wanted to get in on the action, too! 

Okay, one more Shanghai entry coming up (about the mag-lev train to the airport) and that wraps up that trip. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in the United States.

A Visit to West Lake and Hangzhou

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On Sunday during our visit to Shanghai, Tawn’s cousins arranged for us to drive to West Lake, a freshwater lake in Hangzhou, about a two-hour drive from Shanghai. Hangzhou is a city of almost nine million people located on the Yangtze River Delta, famous for its natural beauty.

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Our first stop was the Lingyin Temple, a Buddhist temple that dates back almost 1700 years. It is a wealthy temple, with many buildings and famous stone grottoes that include religious rock carvings. Being a Sunday and the weather being pleasant, the temple grounds were full of worshipers and other visitors.

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The smoke of thousands of sticks of incense hung heavy in the air, a perfumed fog through which the strong morning sun filtered. 

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Devotees lit handfuls of incense, not the mere trio of sticks common in Thai Buddhist temples, and every so often an uncle or auntie, waving their still-flaming incense with abandon in an effort to extinguish the flames, would nearly set another person alight. 

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The temple grounds were full of striking images and saturated colors – brightly painted buildings, monks in vibrant robes… 

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…and the rich reds associated with good fortune in the Chinese culture.

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The Hall of the Five Hundred Arhats features a complex floor plan laid out like a Buddhist swastika. Along the arms are bronze statues of the arhats, or Buddhist spiritual practitioners who have been liberated and attained nirvana. Each of the statues is unique, as are the seats upon which they rest.

We founds one statue which Tawn thought resembled his father’s grumpy frown. 

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Escaping the crowded, smoky temple, we drove a short way to the shores of West Lake. Our lunch was at a restaurant owned by the son of Hangzhou’s mayor, a friend of one of Tawn’s cousin’s colleagues. Because of these three-degrees of separation, we were seated in a small dining villa that offered a lovely view.

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Hangzhou is known for a variety of pan-fried green tea known as longjing, which we were served at the restaurant. It is very gentle, almost sweet tea and pleasant to drink.

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One of the highlights of our meal, beggar’s chicken. This famous dish is a bit complex to make (see here for one blogger’s attempt) but it is basically a marinated chicken that is stuffed, wrapped in leaves, then covered with clay and baked. The clay seals in all the moisture so you are left with a very tender, juicy bird. It is presented to the table unopened and the server asks whether you want them to open it or whether you prefer to do it yourself. We let the experts crack the clack.

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The second dish to arrive (sadly, I didn’t capture the name) was this cold gelatin-like lotus root. The sauce was sticky and sweet and it seemed more like a dessert than an appropriate second course.

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Another stand-out dish was the “gold medal braised sliced pork” or, as I like to call it, the ziggurat of bacon. The thin slices of braised pork belly are wrapped around a mold to create a delicate pyramid that you slowly unwind, slice by tasty slice. 

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The inside of the ziggurat is stuffed with fermented greens (lotus root, maybe?) that are a wonderful compliment to the rich pork. Combine that with some of the steamed bok choy and you have a balanced meal.

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The pork arrived with green crepes in which to wrap the pork and fermented vegetables. Add a dash of sauce and you had a burrito of porky goodness.

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An elaborate dish that didn’t live up to its promise was the crab meat steamed inside an orange. As the plastic bag was unwrapped, the aroma or orange was mouth-watering and the exquisite carvings on the orange were beautiful, but the sweetness of the orange overpowered the crab meat and one or two bites was sufficient.

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Getting full, the dishes continued to arrive. This was a tasty dish of greens and tofu, something simple but refreshing. 

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Shortly after we thought we could take no more, a huge bowl of noodle soup arrived with hand-pulled noodles and bitter greens. It was very tasty but I couldn’t manage but a few bites before I had to be rolled out of the restaurant, too full to walk.

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After lunch, we did end up walking to burn off some of the calories we had consumed. The scenery around West Lake is beautiful. Ah, tranquility… looks like we are there by ourselves, doesn’t it? But that’s not the whole story.

As you can see in this brief video, there were hordes of tour groups from all around China, each of them with a group leader waving a flag and amplified with a portable speaker that echoed their explanations and instructions across the lake.

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Walkways were full of tour groups, moving like the packs of zombies in The Walking Dead. It was fascinating to watch as groups from different directions would converge, the tourists jostling through each other like salmon swimming upstream.

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While walking, I heard the chirps of birds only to discover that vendors were selling bamboo whistles to visitors. None of the bird chirps were real! 

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Still, if you turned and looked the other way, you could block much of the din of the crowd and enjoy the beautiful scenery, sights so beautiful they deserve to be painted and perhaps have been hundreds of times.

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There were even some spots where couples could enjoy their own private moment, something that must be a rare commodity in such a crowded city.

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On the western side of the lake, the trees were starting to show some autumn colors and the lotuses turned their leaves to the sky.

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Tawn’s cousins Paul and Nicha pose with us at West Lake. Interestingly, I was approached by two teenage girls who wanted to take their picture with me. Paul took a picture of that and I’ll have to see if I can get a copy to share with you. They either thought I was someone famous or, more likely, were from somewhere in the country and don’t see white people ever. Anyhow, it was an enjoyable trip!

Food in Shanghai – Part 2

As I mentioned in my previous entry, a large part of our trip to Shanghai was focused on eating. Let me share some more of our delicious discoveries with you. (When I say “our delicious discoveries,” I really should credit the friends and family on whose recommendations we relied.)

 

The Grumpy Pig

Located on Maoming Luu in the Jiang’an district, the Grumpy Pig features a pork centric, pan-Asian menu that invites you to nosh, chill, and enjoy the hip vibe.

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Pork steamed buns were a winner with fluffy buns, braised pork belly, and a cucumber and red cabbage slaw. The pork was sweet, sticky, and tender.

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Pork street toast, a play off the shrimp toast snack food common in Thailand and elsewhere in east Asia, features pork and grated sweet potato slathered on baguette toasts which are then battered and fried and then topped with sweet chili sauce. Good, but a little underseasoned.

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Several dishes are served over rice, making for a perfect meal for one. This was the teriyaki pork neck rice bowl with flavorful pork neck, sweet peppers, cabbage, and sansyo (the ground, dried leaves of the prickly ash tree) with a nice, tart teriyaki sauce. 

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The pork rice bowl features the same pork belly as served with the fluffy buns, served over rice with a poached egg, bok choy, and roasted onion. Mix it all together and you have a healthy and happy meal.

 

Di Shui Dong

Our first evening in Shanghai, Tawn and I were left to our own devices as Tawn’s cousins had to go to a social event. We wandered to the French Concession, another district in Shanghai, and ended up stumbling into a Hunanese restaurant that we later discovered is written up in Lonely Planet. Turns out that the recommendation was well-deserved.

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As you can see, the restaurant is popular with a mixed crowd of people. Many of the foreigners appeared to be expats, which I take as a good sign. Hunanese food is similar to Sichuan foods in terms of spiciness, but instead of relying on the tongue-numbing Sichuan peppercorns, more traditional chilies are used. 

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The “Shef’s Special!” (per the menu’s spelling) was the Hunan style cumin spareribs, which were so good that my mouth waters just writing about them. The pork ribs are grilled and finished with a healthy dose of chilies and spices, mostly cumin seeds. The flavor is spectacular and they are not as spicy as you might expect. Cumin is one of my favorite spices, so I was in heaven. Almost ordered a second plate.

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The balance out the meat, we ordered a dish or stir-fried eggplant and French beans, which in addition to some chilies had some smoked pork belly. The little bit of bacon elevated the dish. If your children don’t like to eat vegetables, may I suggest you add some bacon to them?

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Since there were just the two of us eating, we ordered only three dishes, settling on something the menu called “distilled water egg”. We assumed this was a custard similar to the Japanese chawanmushi and were correct, kind of. The egg itself was flavorless and the dash of soy sauce didn’t season it sufficiently. Worst of all was the film of vegetable oil on top, which made the dish unappetizing. Two successes and one failure, but overall we were very happy with the food and service.

 

More Di Shui Dong

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As coincidence would have it, we ended up eating at another branch of the same restaurant two days later, when Jason and his husband Daniel took us to lunch. It wasn’t until we sat down and I looked at the name of the restaurant on the hand wipe packets that I realized we were at the same place. The good news is that we had a chance to further explore the menu.

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Hunan original bacon and smoked tofu spicy hot pot (“Recommended!”) brought together all the flavors we associate with Hunan cuisine in a single dish. It was tasty but seemed like a large portion for four people and I soon tired of it.

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An excellent, if simple, dish was the stir-fried cabbage with cayenne pepper. The cabbage was very sweet and despite the chilies, was a refreshing counterpoint to the other dishes.

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Mr. Mao’s favorite fried shrimps are small shrimp fried in their shells, covered in a mountain of fried garlic and chilies. Such a tasty combination. My only complaint was that the shrimp were not very large so the effort of peeling them was not rewarded with a lot of meat. I ended up eating the shells, which were crispy, but you still end up with the pieces that need to be picked out of your mouth. Not very graceful to eat!

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A steamed fish head, split open and topped with two types of chilies. The green chilies were pickled and had a nice vinegary flavor. The red chilies were fresh. Fish head is under appreciated in the west, but there is some really tasty, firm meat to be had.

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A soup made with pork bone and wax gourd, a flavorful, clear broth that made for a nice break from the spice of the meal. After two meals at Di Shui Dong, our appreciation for Hunanese food was even more solid than before.

 

Xin Ji Shi

One evening we went to the Xiantindi branch of Xin Ji Shi, a well-known Shanghainese restaurant chain. The restaurant, located in an upscale dining and shopping district, has a quaint interior that was formerly a row house. The modern exterior doesn’t prepare you for what might best be described as a step back in time, and a tasty one at that. 

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This is one of several “new” branches of the original “Jesse” (an Anglicization of “Ji Shi”) restaurant on Tianping Luu. Since the original is too small to reliably get a table in, the owners have opened these other branches. Depending on whom you speak to, the branches serve food that is as good as, or a close approximation of, the original.

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Before ordering, you are served a few small dishes of appetizers – pickled vegetables and spicy roasted peanuts. Enough to whet your appetite.

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A specialty is the crispy dried fish. Exactly as described, it is a dried fish that is then deep fried, making almost all of the bones edible and adding a nice crunch to the concentrated fishiness.

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The hong xiao rou (red braised pork) is perhaps the most famous dish in Shanghainese cuisine and is certainly the restaurant’s showstopper. Simmered for hours in a sweet soy sauce, the pork belly turns into a meltingly tender mass of goodness, a flavor that appeals to everyone except vegetarians. 

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Another very typical Shanghai dish was the bean curd skin with crab meat. This dish is deceptive. It looks unassuming at best and, more likely, unappetizing. It is profound, though. The thin strips of tofu are scrambled with crab meat. The first taste, before adding the all-important condiment of black vinegar, is relatively bland. But the vinegar unlocks so many levels of flavor and the dish is elevated to something much more than the sum of its parts. 

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A very simple dish of broccoli fried with garlic provided a nice serving of vegetables, helping to ensure a healthy, balanced meal lest we fall too into temptation with the pork belly.

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The most beautiful and extravagant dish, the toasted deep water fish head in a nest of fried shallot greens. The fried shallot greens hide the fish head when it arrives and the water carefully parts the nest at the table.

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The fish head, which is served split in half to make the meat readily accessible, is tender and succulent. The shallots prove the point that aroma is an integral part of flavor. You don’t eat the shallot greens but their perfume adds an earthy depth to the fish and fills the air.

Xin Ji Shi was a special meal and reinforced my love of Shanghainese food.

 

Qian Xiang Ge

Our final evening in Shanghai, Paul and Nicha took us to Qian Xiang Ge, a Guizhou style restaurant in Pudong, the eastern side of the city. Guizhou is a province in southwestern China that is relatively mountainous and one of the most ethnically diverse in China. It borders Sichuan province but has its own distinct culinary style, known as “Qian” (which is the Chinese diminutive for the province’s name). The food is known for its sour flavors and a distinct condiment, zao pepper, a fermented chili pepper paste.

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The interior of the restaurant is beautiful, with graceful courtyards and many seating areas for casual relaxing before, after, or during a meal.

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Sadly, despite most Shanghainese restaurants no longer allowing smoking, the common seating areas between the dining rooms was open for smokers, filling the room with the unwelcome scent of cigarette smoke. I’m fine with people making the decision to smoke, but when their smoke impedes on my enjoyment of a meal, that’s where I get upset.

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The highlight of the meal was a wujiang fish hot pot. A staple dish of Qian cooking is this fish in sour soup. Chunks of firm white fish are simmered in a spicy-sour sauce tableside for several minutes, before being served. The dish was similar to the Thai gaeng som, but without the tamarind flavor. It was enjoyable, but I think anyone trying the Thai dish might find the overall flavor of that to be richer and more satisfying.

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Seasonal greens stir fried with pork and an egg yolk. Served hot off the wok, you mix the egg yolk into the greens to create a pleasing sauce.

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Guizhou style fried chicken with cashew nuts in chili sauce. This tasty dish wasn’t as spicy as you might think, but had enough chili to get your attention and keep your taste buds awake. This dish is similar to one you might recognize from Chinese restaurants in the west – kung pao chicken – a dish which originates in Guizhou.

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I didn’t make note of the English name of this shrimp dish, which Google translate spits out as “Dushan hydrocloric acid flavored shrimp.” Appetizing, huh? It was shrimp in the shell with a garlic and chili sauce, very tasty and neatly arranged on the plate.

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Our final dish was a specialty called “Guizhou native chicken cooken in purple sand casserole.” It is basically a clay pot chicken. The unique design of the vessel allows steam to come up through the hole in the center of the pot, keeping the chicken incredibly moist and retaining all of its juices in the pot. The juices were too good to waste, so we spooned them on rice.

This was my first time trying Guizhou, or Qian, cuisine and I’ll definitely try it again. The food was very flavorful and not as spicy as Hunan or Sichuan cuisine.

Hope you enjoyed the culinary tour of Shanghai!