Monday, May 31, 2010

Herbal Legend

Surprisingly good Chinese food with a bias towards the healthy... the restaurant itself smells cross between a temple and medicine shop, with incense permeating the space. We were in Xintiandi, though there is another across town as well

The hongbai (? red dates) tea was quite good. Started with yam (yamaimo) with a citrus kick. I really liked the spicy beef though I went too far with some of the red chilis (note: do not suck on them... they are spicy...) The spinach soup and fried eggplant with meat were yummy, and I loved the pumpkin side. Any of the soups would be great -- the chicken stock in mine was wonderful.

Despite the fact that I felt many of the dishes should be good for me, they were yummy and I want to go back. About 150 rmb per person.

Unit 1B No. 1, 123 Lane Xing Ye Road, Xintiandi Plaza.

Cantina Agave Taqueria & Tequila Bar

Pretty decent Mexican place with good selection of traditional grub and lots of drinks. I liked the outdoor space, though beware the gnats if you sit by the trees (I have never had a saran wrapped margarita with straw stuck through).

260rmb for two drinks each and nachos, so not cheap.

A Mansion, 291 Fumin Lu, near Changle Lu

Southern Belle

A homey Southern style bar with a great outdoor patio and happy hour, it was a great Sunday afternoon booze spot on a beautiful May day. It's an expat bar, not so much local presence. Budweiser on tap and for happy hour, but decent bottle list also.

433 Changle Lu, near Xiangyang Lu

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Bellagio Cafe

Hip and casual Taiwanese food on Hongqiao side of town. It is a chain with a handful of Chinese locations, but not in Taiwan. The crowd is a bit on the younger side, to match the white, minimalist interior and the pixie waitresses (all of them have a cute boy cut, apparently it's a requirement).

Food was great. I wasn't super hungry but you can have a light meal or full on dinner. The steamed whole fish was amazing, and I liked the chicken with garlic and ginger oil. The Taiwanese omelette was fluffy and I liked the crunch of the turnip. We also had some sort of greens in a broth with preserved egg, which was interesting.

They have an extensive dessert and drinks menu, and the desserts at the other tables were monstrous. Definitely worth giving a try.

I didn't realize that Bellagio Cafe was a sister to La Paleta. You can find info on both at

101 Shui Cheng Rd. (S), Changning District, Shanghai
Tel: 021-6270-6866

La Paleta

Lovely bakery with Japanese-style breads and pastries (or in my mind they are Japanese-like, though with Chinese twist).

I don't know why, but my favorite right now is the charcoal bread with Gouda cheese -- it's a big dark grey brick with yellow chunks, so not the most appetizing site, but it's perfect amount of chewy and savory for me.

There is one by the Carrefour near Hongqiao and also one by my office at Hong Bao Shi Rd, which has a sit-down place with cute cafe options for lunch.

480 Hong Bao Shi Rd,Gubei/Hongqiao near Jinzhu Lu



Sandwich and coffee shop with 'California'-like paninis and salads, in addition to fresh juice and wine. They have plenty of small tables and booths, more trendy than homey, but a place that you can camp out and read/work for a while.

I had a "Greek" sandwich, falafel, roasted eggplant, tabouleh, on toasted ciabatta and a beetroot-pear juice, which not surprisingly is beet red. 75 rmb.

I went to the one in Hong Kong New World at Huai Hai Zhong Lu near Madang Lu (near Uniqlo), right in a little square with other restaurants and a block from my Shanghai apt!

Sunday, May 9, 2010


The bar at the top of the Hyatt on the Bund. Has a fantastic view of the Pudong side and Bund, though I think there is a cover to sit a the tables by the window. There is a rooftop area with beds to lounge on and a jacuzzi outside.

I had the worst viognier ever and a good virgin mary (weird drink mood...) Pretty crowded for a lounge and they had good house playing.

199 Huangpu Road, Shanghai
+86 21 6393 1234


Fantastic and authentic Japanese restaurant on the Bund. It's on the second floor of #6 Bund, in a great Japanese-inspired space (well, except the shark tank behind the reception desk).

There are a few staff who speak Japanese, but not so much English. Definitely make reservations in advance for weeknight.

They have a pretty good drink menu, with sake, shochu (and even sours), and several flights of sake for very reasonable price. Wine was good too I think.

We started with a maguro and other sashimi moriawase, a fantastic salmon salad, and chawanmushi. Shishamo was just ok. My co-workers liked the gindara saikyoyaki (fish) so much that we got a second order of it! Yakitori was quite good too. The spare ribs melt in your mouth and flavorful.

I liked the black sesame ice cream and fried mochi dessert.

6 Bund, 2F, Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu, Shanghai
+86 021-6339-2779

Friday, May 7, 2010


I went for rooftop drinks, but Mesa also has dinner.

Drinks were very fun, great crowd inside with pop-music dancing and outdoors.

The Thailander was interesting Absolut Peppar drink with a huge kick. It was good for one drink, not for the night.

Muombie is a ridiculous (secret) concoction of alcohol and some kind of Malibu rum or coconut juice that goes for 98 rmb. It says two per person, but you really shouldn't need more than that.

748 julu road (east of fumin rd), shanghai china 200040
(86) 21 6289 9108

Sichuan Citizen

Cool Sichuan restaurant run by the same people as Citizen Cafe. Pretty foreigner-friendly and had more ex-pats than Chinese, but yummy food, interesting drinks and fun atmosphere.

Four of us had pan fried green peppers, tofu, string beans, chicken, fried pork, and rice, with a few drinks and came out to about 50 rmb per person.

30 Donghu Lu, near Huaihai Zhong Lu
东湖路30号 近淮海中路


Kathleen's 5

On the 5th floor of the Shanghai Art Museum across the street from the JW Marriott, Kathleen's 5 is a lovely space with good western cuisine for reasonable price. Went for a lunch on pleasant Friday afternoon, and sat outside on their covered patio.

They have a two course or three course prix fixe menu for lunch. I had the Caesar salad and split main -- sea bass and swordfish (I think I liked sea bass with potatoes better). Their site of potatoes was crispy fried and salty (which I guess can make even cardboard taste good...) and it came with a good aioli.

325 Nanjing Xi Lu, Shanghai 200003
6327 2221

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Sim's Cozy Garden Hostel

Sim's is a fabulous hostel in Chengdu, but that's now why I'm including it in the 'Eats' blog. Lonely Planet had suggested them as one of the places that offer Sichuan cooking lessons, and we had an awesome time and some delicious food.

We called Sim's the day before -- they wanted us to show up in person to make the booking. The cooking lessons are pretty informal, depending on the chef's schedule along with availability by one of the bartenders to translate. Sim's is a bit out of the way on the northern end of the city, but we had a few beers and walked to ChongQing QinMa Hotpot close by

The next day we returned to Sim's at 7pm for our lesson. Our interpreter (aka bartender) was a Shanghainese who had come out 4 months ago to help out at Sim's. Bob (or Bao) took us to the roof deck (6 or 7th floor) that had a small nook with a small kitchen, where our chef instructor was waiting with our ingredients and equipment ready to go.

We chose three dishes - Kung Pao Chicken 宫保鸡丁, Fish Flavored Eggplant 魚香茄子, and Ma Po Tofu 麻婆豆腐

We spent the first part of the class chopping and preparing the chicken (cubed), cucumber (halved and thirded, then seeds sliced off, rest cubed), eggplant (quartered lengthwise then peeled with the cleaver), and tofu (cubed). We also learned to make decorative flowers from pink pickled daikon slices and toothpicks.

Then onto the cooking. It's all about the spices -- minced garlic, ginger, Sichuan peppers (ground and whole), red pepper (ground, whole, and wet), scallion, MSG (yes, MSG), salt, chicken stock, soy sauce, vinegar, and starch, and then oil and water. I figured the blend of spices and sauces, the order, and timing of the cooking was going to be impossible to remember... so it's all on video...

Kung Pao Chicken 宫保鸡丁

Fish Flavored Eggplant 魚香茄子

Ma Po Tofu 麻婆豆腐

The biggest difference between the chef's and our creations was the cut and the balance -- I loved the dishes I made, but I'd want to be served his.

After the dishes were done, we carried them back downstairs and chowed down with some complementary Tsingtao. Yum. Fantastic deal for 100 rmb each.

See for more info on the hostel.

Long Chao-shou 龙抄手

May 2010

A chain of hole-in-the-wall local eateries in Chengdu and rest of China, Long Chao-shou was yummy albeit confusing for the two of us who didn't quite read or speak Chinese that well. Tan Tan Mien is the staple Sichuan order for me (or it happens to be the one thing that I can read ona menu), some sort of rou mien (meat noodles) that Ryota could order, and we pointed to a few others. Tan Tan Mien was the best here for sure.

ChongQing QinMa Hotpot

May 2010

Yummy firey Sichuan hot pot a few minutes walk from Sim's Cozy Garden Hostel where we signed up for cooking classes.

We ordered the foreigner-friendly split hot pot, with a non-spicy broth in the middle, though we did end up deciding that the spicy broth was much better. Then we chose several meats and vegetables for the pot. They gave us small bowls filled with sesame oil into which we put spoonfuls of minced garlic and chopped cilantro.

The cooking is much like shabu-shabu. You dip the meat/veggie into the boiling broth for a set time (1-5 min depending on what it is). But then you dip the fiery hot item into the sesame oil, and yummmm...

Fire Pot!

Remember that the more surface the item has, the more 'spicy' it will keep. Large greens are great in hot pot, but REALLY spicy.

Definitely get some beers, helps with the cooling.

All for a whopping 100rmb ($14 USD) for two.

Chen's Ma Po Tofu

May 2010

Seems to be THE famous Ma Po Tofu place in Chengdu, as all hotels and guidebooks will recommend. It's the oldest restaurant in Chengdu serving the local specialty, and it is fiery and delicious.

We walked in for lunch. One order of their mapo tofu, one order of greens, and rice and tea was the perfect amount.