A Shanghai & Beijing Eat-ologue For Mike & Katie

22 Feb

Two of my good friends from Columbus, Mike and Katie, are going to China in a couple months to celebrate a wedding and I wanted to compile a list of places that I love to eat at, for their reference.

Starting in Shanghai:

I blogged about crispy panfried buns when I came back from my trip and I still think about them. They are really heavy so your best bet is to pair an order (4 buns) with a clear brothy soup, like rice vermicelli and tofu skin. There may be some baby shrimp used to flavor the broth too. The best place for these babies is Little Yang’s. There is another location, on the second floor of the Number One Food Stuff Department Store pictured below (it’s in a food court and they use styrofoam & paper).

This is NanJing Road which is all pedestrian with the exception of those teeny trolleys. There are tons of snack shops where most items are measured in bulk like a candy store. The pictures along the right is just a random corner snack shop with a line a dozen deep waiting for these piping hot meat mooncakes. Flaky and pretty freaking delicious. My main recommendation for this street is the three level Number One Food Stuff Department Store. It’s got dried sea cucumbers that sell for USD1000 for half a kilogram, a huge dried meats section, and tons of season appropriate food gifts. There is also a food court upstairs with a huge prepared foods section, a dumpling joint (not so recommended), and panfried buns!

Just a couple dishes from various Shanghai eateries. Clockwise from the top left, 心太软, or heart too soft, which are reconstituted dried dates stuffed with a sticky rice flour ball and steamed with rock sugar syrup. It’s phenomenal and cannot be missed (if you can’t find this, lotus root stuffed with sticky rice is just as good too). Stir fried eel in brown sauce (maybe like the texture of braised smelts?); cold appetizers including chili oil radish, braised wheat gluten (烤麸), and quick pickled cucumbers with garlic; soy pickled cucumbers; quick braised fish with pickled snow cabbage; stinky tofu (臭豆腐, which is technically Cantonese street food, but hell, you aren’t gonna find it in Columbus); braised pork belly; more pork belly in noodles; and in the center, whole roasted green chilies.

The quintessential place to go for Shanghainese food is Little Southern Nation (小南国) which has locations all over town. They are particularly known for their crystal shrimp (lightly steamed with red vinegar on the side), red sauce braised pork butt (rural folk say that the oils from eating this makes girls and boys have smooth skin), and roasted snake (I dunno, I don’t think it’s typically Shanghainese, but good, like ribs). The noodles are from 吴越人家, a little hole in the wall, and a great place to catch inexpensive eats half a block off HuaiHai Road.

If you are really craving noodles, I’d suggest a couple Taiwanese joints around town. Most of them have multiple locations owing to the trendiness of the cuisine and the influx of Taiwanese capital in the city. I wrote a post about it here. A few of my favorites are: 千秋膳房 (great for braised spicy brisket with hand pulled noodles, soup dumplings, and beef pancake roll); 鹿港小镇 (great for all of the above and AWESOME desserts), 鼎泰豐 (the much lauded soup dumpling restaurant, also with multiple locations, link is in English). From top left: soup dumplings, scallion pancake and salty soymilk soup, peanut “smoothie,” red bean and condensed milk over shaved ice, three cup chicken, minced braised pork (great with rice), soup dumpling with finely julienne ginger and red vinegar, braised brisket and hand pulled noodles; and the beef pancake roll with millet congee in the center.

I was going to recommend a Peking duck place, but eeehhhhh. This is long winded enough already!

Now for Beijing:

Across the northern entrance to the Summer Palace, there is a weird restaurant (红火火涮羊肉店) that specializes in lamb. I don’t think I’ve ever had such a protein heavy meal in China, but weirder things have happened. I also don’t think it can technically be called lamb cuz it was extremely gamey, but as you probably know, I like gamey.The weirdest thing was that it was singularly the most tender lamb/mutton I’ve ever had. It’s served with sauces of your choosing. They make fantastic fresh pressed tofu and their fresh unsweetened yogurt is great fodder for the muttom. They also have this weird steam basket of pasta that looks like shells. It’s weird but a cool experience. I think if you go during the “winter,” their hot pot will be extremely promising. Or it might be a total tourist trap.

What Beijing lacks in refined foods, it makes up for in extraordinary sight seeing. We were pressed for time so my brother and I hit up the Temple of Heavenly Peace and the Forbidden City in a day. In between, we caught our breath with some paomuo (泡馍, which I’ve written about here) and a giant liter of soda. 西安饭庄 is located right off a subway stop so it’s pretty easy to get to (depending on your tolerance for folks who are over eager to grab a seat on the subway).

And lastly, I think you will enjoy a ramble amongst the hutongs immensely despite large portions of walled off areas. The best path to take is around Middle Lake (中海) to avoid the trashy night “club” scene around the South Lake. This park runs along the west side of the Forbidden City and has many hutongs that branch off of it. Amongst the hutongs is a rather large street food complex with many vendors (but it’s all one business, you buy a pre-paid card, I think, and swipe as you pick out food). Appetite for China has a great post on 九门小吃 (Nine Gates Small Bites). We only had flour tea (back in the day anything that had boiling water poured in was called a “tea”) and I don’t think I’d recommend it. The cold noodles and various pastries looked really tasty, as did the candy coated fruit.

Good grief, this was an exhaustive post! Next time I take a trip, I’m just doing one wrap up post and one only! Forget those pesky single topic posts!


4 Responses to “A Shanghai & Beijing Eat-ologue For Mike & Katie”

  1. naveen February 23, 2011 at 11:35 am #

    add all these to foursquare!

    • vivshmack February 23, 2011 at 11:39 am #

      Sure! It’s going on the to do list!

    • vivshmack February 23, 2011 at 11:46 am #

      HA, I just looked and most of them are already added, with Japanese, Chinese, and English tips! Look at you go!

    • Carlie November 28, 2014 at 1:53 pm #

      I’m not quite sure how to say this; you made it exmrteely easy for me!

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