Shanghai Street Food: Candied Hawthorn Berries On A Stick

Shanghai Tanghulu

Candied hawthorn berries on a stick aka Tanghulu is a treat that can be purchased in many cities all over China. However, the quality of the said stick of Tanghulu greatly varies. It can be sweet, tart, crunchy, and chewy. Or it can cause you to chip your tooth and wonder why Chinese people like it so much.

The trick is to find a store that sells mass quantities of Tanghulu so that the stick you buy is freshly made. Avoid those with a shiny, glassy exterior. What you want is a stick of Tanghulu that is exactly like the one I am holding in the picture above where you can clearly tell that while the sugar coating has hardened, it will break easily even if bit softly.  [Read more…]

Best of Shanghai Restaurants: Miss Zhouyu’s Sauerkraut Fish 周渝食惦 酸菜鱼

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Sauerkraut Fish is a popular Shanghainese style fish soup made of black carp and pickled Chinese mustard. Miss Zhouyu’s rendition is not the first time I have had this soup. But it is by far the best.

Sauerkraut and fish are not on my list of favorite foods but when expertly cooked, produces a soup so flavorful that instantly makes it one of the best things I have ever eaten. So delicious that I ate at Miss Zhouyu’s twice during my Shanghai trip. If it wasn’t for the fact that Shanghai has too many food options, I would have gone back a 3rd time.

The only downside to Miss Zhouyu’s Sauerkraut Fish is that there is no English menu. You need to go with someone who at the very minimum speaks Mandarin, but preferably someone who can read Chinese as well. Click here to read the reviews on dianping.com in Chinese. My personal rating is 9.5/10 for taste, 7/10 for environment, and 9/10 for service. It is also very reasonably priced. A meal for four is around $50USD.

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The Intercontinental Shanghai Rujin, Xin Yuan Lou Restaurant Review

 

The occasion was G’s cousin’s son’s 10 year old’s birthday party. G’s cousin booked a private room with 40 people 10 people per table, mostly adults with 4 kids including the birthday boy. And I thought that my NYC friends hiring clowns and tickle me Elmo was fancy for a kid’s birthday party.

馨源楼 is the hotel’s signature restaurant attached to the main building. Their decor is truly outstanding managing to impress even jaded ole me. Food wise, it was all over the place. Out of the 21 dishes, 2 were jaw dropping amazing, 3 were truly terrible, with the rest somewhere in the middle. But this was a very memorable meal mostly due to the environment hence the long post.

The Intercontinental Rujin is a meticulously restored mansion surrounded by gardens and located in one of the best neighborhoods in Shanghai. It is a beautiful understated hotel, one I have often walked by many times, as it is only a 20 minute walk from my grandparent’s apartment in Shanghai. A 20 minute walk in Shanghai translates to completely different neighborhoods.

Greeted by a giant Christmas Tree. Is it crazy that I saw more Christmas Trees in Shanghai than NYC?!

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Shanghai Skyline

Ah…Shanghai, the city of my birth. The city where I spent the first 7 years of my life and then visited many times over the years with the longest period being 3 months.

My last visit was in 2011 when G and I were deciding between relocating to Hong Kong or Shanghai. We choose Hong Kong.

No regrets, however if I were to make the same choice today it would be Shanghai.

Shanghai has grown by leaps and bounds within the past couple of years. In 2011, it was still up and coming. In 2014, it has arrived big time.

Night view from The VUE Bar @ Hyatt Shanghai

Architecture: Shanghai Tower is the most beautiful skyscraper I have seen to date, in pictures or in person.

Up close and personal with Shanghai Tower, the 2nd tallest building in the World at 2,073'. Will open in 2015.

Transportation System: Overall, very efficient whether it is airplanes, trains, buses, or taxi’s. Especially the trains. High speed rail is the way to go. So smooth that you don’t even realize that it is moving. And very clean too with no smoking allowed!

Hongqiao train station. Clean and very well maintained with plenty of fast food choices and a few restaurants.

Food: Shanghai has surpassed Hong Kong. Hong Kong has some of the best tasting food in the world but Shanghai has much more variety. Despite walking a minimum of 4 miles a day and my daily yoga I ended up gaining 7 pounds!!! I have never gained 7 pounds before on any trip not even all you can eat cruises!!! The number of restaurants is astounding, and even more so the variety. And need I say tasty? I did not even have one bad meal during the entire 3 weeks I ate out in Shanghai. And I ate out 3 times a day, sometimes even 4 or 5. Of course I did lots and lots research mostly going through all the pictures on dianping.com*** and combing through the reviews. Towards the last day of my trip, I was scared to give this chicken and pork tripe soup a try lest it destroy my record.

***Dianping.com is China’s answer to Yelp. I highly prefer Dianping to Yelp. The only negative is that you would need to read Chinese and in order to fully see the amazingness that is dianping.com. If you have a China bank issued credit card, you will have access to many instant coupons and be able to make real time reservations on Dianping.

123 three food related stores, mostly restaurants or fast food in a very ordinary mall about 10 minutes walking from my grandmother's apartment. The Basement is like a maze. Lest you think this mall is special. There are at least 20 malls like this in city center Shanghai. The sheer number of food outlets available in Shanghai is insane.

People: I haven’t gotten shoved one time this trip as opposed to 2011. But I also made sure to avoid rush hour. It also helped that my visit was during the off-season.

Safety: Shanghai has always been safe. Much more so than NYC. However, Shanghai has gone the extra mile of posting a police or special squad on nearly every block in city center.

Restrooms: Free and clean available all over the city. If you don’t find it clean enough, just ask the guard manning the station to clean it before you use it. Way to go Shanghai!

Overall: I am very proud of how the city of my birth has transformed itself into a world class city while retaining many historical elements. And thankfully city center Shanghai has already completely the majority of its construction projects so dust and pollution have gone way down.

The Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center

The Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center is located at People’s Square close to the Shanghai Museum. Admission is less than $10 USD. A good way to spend an hour or two. And a good place to get away from the crowds. I was told that it is one of the world’s largest showcases of urban development. Whether that is true or not, all I know is that it was certainly impressive.

The Shanghai Urban Planning Museum

I was born in Shanghai in 1981. I remember the tallest building I saw during my childhood years was 16 stories. And that riding on a elevator or escalator was an amazing treat. Pudong used to be all farmland!!! But with the skyscrapers came the intense air pollution. When I was young, I used to be able to see the stars on a clear summer night. No chance of that now.

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