Thursday, June 24, 2010

島唄楽園 Shima-uta Rakuen

Shimauta-rakuen (島唄楽園) is a great Okinawan restaurant in Roppongi that co-workers had first taken me to, and I have since taken my big boss to because it is so yummy and unusual.

Okinawa has its own distinct culture and heritage (kind of like Hawaii in the US) and that includes food. They use ingredients that are not available anywhere else in Japan, like sea grapes (海ぶどう) and goya (ゴーヤ) and have funny names for their dishes too. "Rafty" (ラフティー) is pork belly (豚の角煮) and "chample" (チャンプル) means stir-fry. Okinawa is also known for an amazing and potent shochu called awamori (泡盛), and there is an extensive awamori and cocktail list here.

I arrived tonight to a raucous Okinawan performance by Nakasone Mitsuru-san (仲宗根充). The restaurant has live performances about twice per week (schedule). Most of their seating is family style communal tables and you pay 1000 yen cover for a seat where you can see the little stage. I was a little skeptical at first, since I had planned on a quiet dinner with a book, but I am so glad I got to experience this! Not only was it super fun and interactive with people getting on stage to sing and the whole room dancing, the people were incredibly welcoming and inclusive. I can't wait to visit Okinawa!

Btw, in addition to his musical talents, Nakasone-san runs a taxi service in Naha, Okinawa. I am so calling him when I visit!

The restaurant is on the 4th floor of a building on the big Roppongi corner of Roppongi-dori and Gaien-dori. Here's the g-navi site (Japanese)

〒106-0032 東京都港区六本木7-14-10 誠志堂ビル4F

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Fuchun 富春

A totally local Shanghai food place that my local friend brought me to in Jing'an. I don't think I can find it again but it was delicious and cheap and packed at 7 PM on a Tuesday (he said it always is, and people drive in from afar on weekends).

We had fried spring rolls, a tonkatsu (fried breaded pork), spicy cold noodles, and several kinds of xiaolongbao, which were awesome. Plain, crab, or shrimp, the juices were amazing and the rest delicious as well. First time trying to eat these without a spoon -- the foreigner friendly places where I have always had xiaolongbao has spoons to catch the juices. I had to gracefully hold the squishy dumpling, chew a small hole in the side, then suck out the juices without spilling all over me (took a few tries). But worth it.

I need to practice a little more Mandarin before I try on my own.

Short walk from Jiangsu Station (Line 2), come out Exit #2, walk left for two blocks

Friday, June 18, 2010


Zapata's is the outdoor bar adjoining to Sasha's in the French Concession. We went for the USA-Slovenia World Cup game, and the place was packed with Americans. Oh how obnoxious we are, it was so much fun. Tie was unfortunate. Nice patio seating under tents I think, and they had set up several screens outside. Mexican, beer, fun.

5 Hengshan Lu, near Dongping Lu
衡山路5号, 近东平路

Mr & Mrs Bund

This is one of my favorites in Shanghai I think. Fun elegant, with mix of loungey and funky "Alice in Wonderland" furniture and waiters (right now they are all wearing MM soccer jerseys), and most importantly delicious food and cocktails. They call themselvs "a modern French eatery in cosmopolitan Shanghai"

I was lucky enough to have two occassions in a weekend to dine -- apparently reservations are impossible to get there.

Friday evening, I joined a friend's dinner late. They had done all of the ordering and brought his own wine so I just sat back and enjoyed. Starters included tuna tartare, a light fish marinade, and delicious beef carpaccio. Bread's good too, with this super light . The spare rib off the bone had amazing flavor and delectable meat. Loved it. Pork I was a little less excited about, but I find it hard to get excited about pork. We ordered four or five desserts to share (table of 8) and all were just amazing.

Saturday night, I was with our wonderful organizer way early, enough to be about a cocktail ahead of the crowd, and what a lovely cocktail it was -- a wasabi martini, one of the multitude of yummy, can't-tasting-a-lick-of-alcohol creative martinis. I sadly did not complete my goal to make it through the whole martini menu, but the raspberry, French (Chambourd), ginger pineapple, and Mr Bund (basil) are all worth trying (for the record, I tasted a number of my colleagues' drinks, not all mine!)

We had a group of 21 at the tall table with tall chairs (quintessential Alice in Wonderland pieces) and also the set menu with family style for all courses. Most of it was delicious - starters include a pate, eggplant tartine, cold chicken with aioli, with a beef bourgignon with mash and the best fish for mains.

Caveat, I didn't pay for it, but otherwise might be tough to do twice in a weekend

Phone: 6323 9898

6/F, Bund 18, 18 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu, near Nanjing Dong Lu
中山东一路18号6楼, 近南京东路

Saturday, June 12, 2010


I think I found my favorite Shanghai brunch place. Azul Tapas lounge is "Peruvian Modern Cuisine" with a fantastic 130rmb brunch that gets you a drink, coffee/tea, two dishes, and scones/bread. 160rmb if you want 3 dishes.

I had a bloody mary (pretty good), gazpacho with crab meat, and Latin steak and eggs. Scone also yummy and warm and comes with regular or honey butter and jam. I loved my gazpacho and was ok with the steak and eggs (simply because I happen to like everything rare and this wasn't, taste was good). However, I had terrible food envy of my lovely brunchmates who had a Spanish bruschetta, gourmet omelette with goat cheese, asparagus and other veggies (this was delicious, I am getting that next time), and blue berry pancakes. Benedict looked good too.

Also the drinks, though there were many bloodies to go around, the fruit shakes looked fantastic too. Cute neighborhood in French Concession right by Sashas.
Reservations at or 6433-1172

18 Dongping Road (by Hengshan Road), Xuhui District, Shanghai

Yuxin Sichuan Dish 渝信川菜

Amazing Sichuan food, exactly like I remember it from Chengdu! So yummy and so many options so delicious spicy goodness.

Mix of cold and hot, as well as spicy and sweet, helps keep your mouth from burning out of control. Lettuce with sesame sauce and cold yams (yamaimo I think) with coconut soup were nice 'coolers' along with the soy milk, while the beef lungs, frog, and shrimp were awesome hot dishes. Must get the sticky rice cakes with egg at the end.

We went to the one in Chengdu Bei Lu but there are two more in Shanghai, one in Chongqing and four in Beijing too.

333 Chengdu Bei Lu (near Weihai Lu) 3/F, Zhaoshangju Square
成都路333号 招商局广场3楼近威海路
5298 0438

5/F, Huasheng Tower, 399 Jiujiang Lu, near Fujian Zhong Lu
九江路399号 华盛大厦5楼, 近福建中路
6361 1777

Sunday, June 6, 2010


A Korean restaurant chain in China (primarily Shanghai), and with one located a few blocks away on Huaihai Lu, I will be going back to Pankoo. The kimchi was actually good (was already going vinegary at last few Korean places I tried). I had paejan and a chigae, though I did find none of the wait staff recognized the Korean names. About ~20rmb for the dishes

Tsui Wah Restaurant

I went for a midnight coffee to Tsui Wah Restaurant, a Cantonese chain on the Fumin Lu - Changle Lu corner with Cantina Agave and a few other restaurants. It was pretty full with late night snackers, surprisingly of many ages. They have a nice HK menu, which I am sure I will try some time. The special tea is interesting - never tried it before, mix of coffee and tea... not sure how I feel about it but interesting.

291 Fumin Road, Xuhui District, Shanghai

Friday, June 4, 2010

M on the Bund

Great atmosphere and nice outdoor deck with fantastic view. The food was beautiful, but to be honest not the best. The arugula salad was fine. The salt crusted lamb leg looked fantastic, I was the envy of the table when it arrived and just melted with a touch of my fork, but ended up being pretty dry and tasteless. Same with the raspberry souffle - great presentation, totally too sweet, tasted like chunks of sugar. Might be worth another try since I have heard good things, but there are many better restaurants in Shanghai as well.

7/F, No 5 The Bund (corner of Guangdong Lu)
(86 21) 6350 9988