Decided last minute, last Monday. I knew i need a compile list quick. A list that needed precise planning and research. A task list where you got to factor in wake up time, distance, bad traffic. I only got 8 slots for meals plus 4-5 snacking activites. My list even looks pretty with maps and walking trails to speed up digestion. I planed to eat all the food before I leave. As usual, I am over estimating myself.
The first meal. It felt like amazing race. Groggy from the flight and racing against the clock. 2pm is the last order for lunch at Guyi. It's 1pm when we left the apartment but we are in Pudong. Guyi is across the river which took us 45mins to go across the tunnel. Our stomach grumbles. We still need to go up the highway and snake through the narrow roads at French concession and with the bad traffic ahead, we are not making it to spicy fish head. I need to decide on plan B now. Luckily, my friend traveling with me is a new comer so he didn't know where the hell I was going. A quick left turn at the traffic junction, we race to the best xiao long bao in Shanghai.
You might wonder, What? Xintiandi Ding Tai Fung? Well, This ding tai fung is different. You bet it gonna be good, a Taiwanese chain bossy enough to open its doors in a city that is renown for the best xiaolongbao. It has a 4.5 star rating on Dianping
. Dianping is an unbias restaurant rating site that is a great tool when searching where to eat in shanghai or in china for that matters. Restaurants are reviewed by people like you and me. In my life, I reckon I had 1000s of xiao long bao to compare and it is the BEST. I am not sure if it's China pork or the heavy handed MSG that makes the xiao long bao at shanghai Ding Tai Fung so tasty and juicy. With the rich hairy crab roe, it's heavenly good.
The next meal, dinner, came totally unplanned. We met up friends and they planned a private food tasting dinner for me to sample and comment (haha, after my job of reviewing the dinner turn out to be free) the menu at a new restaurant which is a spin-off of from the same people at People 7 and all about grills. With the same super dark setting and stark presentation.
Lunch on Friday was a satisfier. Both of us gobber down the whole peking duck. Madam Zhu's kitchen have my favorite Spring onion chicken and mixed chicken inert in fiery numbing fresh szehuan peppers. Which left my lips pluckering sexy for the afternoon.
For dinner, we ended up having Di Shui Dong. Why not Guyi? I tried protesting but it was a group call. Di Sui Dong and Guyi serves the same Hunan food. Both are equally popular and have its own stream of loyal fans. I am a Guyi fan, they serve better food. While still dreaming of the fish head at Guyi, came this dish that seems to decend from heaven. Bullfrogs! Unintentionally, a juicy white leg after another, while everyone was deeply engaged in their conversation, before it got a chance to turn to the other side of the table, the frogs had disappeared. I shyly declined a leg when another plate was ordered.
I don't know how, but we bumped into some guy with a friend that had just broken up. We end up having more drinks at their super posh apartment after partying. After breaking some glasses, they suddenly remembered the big breakfasts spreads I've made during a trip that we had actually traveled together on a cabin trip in the mountains the year before. More shockingly to know they are high profile diplomats who dress in Tshirts and cargo pant.
Weekend equates hangover to my friends. We regrouped late and head back to Puxi for some taiwanese food and desserts. Fulfilling my tourist responsibility to my friend, (my sole intention was to get my tummy ready for dinner) we did some walking at the Nanjing Lu and the Bund and back to across the river for some highlights at Youziling (Everyones all time favorite). Washing fatty beef grilled to perfection with sake. At Youziling, They do know who we are. The staffs were attentive in a watchful way. We eat and drink to all monies worth. Many a times, we were the last to leave, always noisy, table were usually stacked with plates, beef and sake bottles. And once we created so much trouble that we ended up in the police station.
Sunday, we head back home, but how can I not end with some simple local Shanghainese noodles. There's still Chen Chen, Jesse, xiaoyang panfried buns, roadside skewers with unknown meat and heaps more on the list but couldn't get to. If only I extend a few more days...
Shanghai this time round feels different. Just a little less than a year from my last visit. I see the subtle changes. I hadn't yell at the service this time. They seem to be very polite (maybe it's a new service technique intentionally to make people like me feel bad yelling at their unattentiveness), there's less honking, I didn't hear a spit and don't see ladies roaming in their floral PJs with rollers on their hair. It will be different again the next time. With a tear at goodbye, I knew i've missed old stinky smelly shangz.
At 3am, after writing on all these, I am feeling hungry or really hungry? hmm…
-til next post, ss
Labels: shanghai, Shanghai dumplings, Travel Diaries, xiao long bao