Summer Pt. 3: Business in Ukraine!

Hi!!!, Back again! I promise, this is the last post about summer. In case you missed them, I gave an overview in Part 1 and shared my favorite eats in Part 2. Well, as the title says, I’m going to talk about my trip to Ukraine!

Why Ukraine

I’m a HUGE Russia/USSR junkie. I also missed my chance to go to Russia in the spring last school year, so I guess a trip to Ukraine isn’t too surprising right? Actually, I didn’t go on any old family vacation; I went as part of the China Delegation for the SAGE (Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship) world cup, which happened to be hosted in Odessa.

SAGE is an organization based in California that hosts a global business competition for students. A group of friends and I actually started a project, but the regional qualifiers happened to coincide with SATII testing 😦 Luckily, the China delegation had a couple of spots open. I applied and was accepted!!!!!

What I loved…..

  1. The Event itself was AMAZING. The first day was a culture fair, and the other countries really brought their A-Game.

We handed out these cute keychains that resemble foods and some bookmarks

Each country also did a short performance, which was really cool to watch. Unfortunately, my phone ran low so I didn’t get any footage 😦

The competition was also very interesting. It’s actually amazing what some of the teams did. Israel’s team is developing an interactive emergency wristband for senior citizens and actually got government funding as well as grants from 5VC firms!

2. The weather and views were even better than the competition. We were given free time on the third day to explore :

 

 

3. FOOD!!!!!! Granted, the meals they provided us at the hotel sucked, but everything else was AMAZING, and incredibly cheap. Seriously, a bottle of kefir was only 20 hyrvnia (less than a dollar). In Shanghai, a small thing of Greek yogurt costs upwards 28RMB (around $4). The fruit  and rye bread were also incredible. My favorite, however, had to be the cured fish

 

Sure, it doesn’t look appetizing, but trust me, the flavour is superb. Basically, the freshness and salt removes any fishiness while preserving the fish’s natural oils. The flesh, both times I had this, was tender and not too salty. Anyways, its available in pretty much every grocery store, but for the best, head to the beach and pick a stall!

What didn’t go so well….

Only 1 thing didn’t quite work out: the traveling

First of all, the flights were at the worst times. Honestly, the flight there departed at 3am and the flight back arrived 1am…. so much for a getting enough sleep…….

The on-site visas also got screwed up, so my team ended up stuck in Kiev for nearly 6hrs while they figured things out. In the mean time, we missed our flight to Odessa and had to take a 6hr bus ride instead…….at least we didn’t have to take a 22hr bus to Kenya like the Ugandan team

So that’s it for this post. I hope the ending didn’t bum you guys out. Overall, I highly recommend visiting Odessa, or the rest of Ukraine for that matter.

Anyways, August is almost over, which means crab season is starting! See you guys next week with a recipe!

 

 

 

Summer Pt.2: Best eats

Hi!!! As promised, I’m back. My first week as a junior is over and it is definitely WAYYYY busier than freshman and sophomore year. Anyways, it’s the weekend now, and I want to finish my summer recap before fall sets in, so let’s get started! Part 2: Food

Honestly, I didn’t get much of a chance to explore the amazing food scenes of some of the cities I visited, but I still hit three standout spots.

1. Jimmy Jack’s Rib Shack (Iowa City)

At camp, I mentioned to one of the counselors that I liked smoked meats/bbq, and this was the first place he recommended. The next day, I walked over for lunch, and discovered just how lucky these college kids were. I wanted the 3 meat platter, but there was no way I could finish everything 😦  I ordered a pulled pork sandwich instead.

 It was AMAZING. The meat was tender and incredibly smoky. So, the next week, I came back and got a half rack of ribs

 No disappointment here. The ribs were not fall of the bone, but they had such flavor I actually appreciated the extra chew. They were also not too fatty, so I didn’t feel uncomfortable, despite the nearly pound of meat.

Other notes: The service is amazingly fast and the people are courteous. They also have a complementary toppings bar with housemade pickles and over 15 types of sauce!. However, as a trade-off, it’s not exactly college- budget friendly. Still, I highly recommend it

2. EMC Raw Bar

We go to Irvine every summer, but since we stay in an apartment complex thing, we don’t really go out to eat. When we do, it’s usually to the Chinese places down the street or some sushi place we happen to drive by. One day, after doing some shopping in Heritage Plaza, I noticed a new building

Seafood and raw bar? Now that’s my type of restaurant. It was already noon, so why not try it out?

The menu was small but extensive with a large variety of quite creative dishes like uni(sea urchin) avocado toast  as well as more traditional soups and pastas. Before any of that, oysters to start!

These were the Chesapeake bay oysters, which were very tasty and fresh, but small. I would recommend some of the larger (but more expensive) varieties.

For mains, I got charbroiled whitefish filet and my mom got the spicy seafood soup

(I was too excited and started eating before remembering to take a pic)

I’ll start with the soup. My mom didn’t think it would be enough to fill her up for lunch, but she could not have been more wrong. It was loaded with clams, muscles, shrimp……and just to satisfy those who just need carbs, the soup came with some garlic bread.

Mom thought she hit the jackpot, until my dish arrived. The whitefish was not only fresh, it was JUICY. yes, a juicy fish. Even better, I could still taste the char.

Other notes: For sides, I highly recommend the grilled corn or one of the toasts. This is definitely more of a fancy dinner place (perfect for date night!)The food also took a while to arrive.

3. Pinefish

While in Philly visiting UPENN,  I was really craving seafood, so I did a quick search on Yelp and found that this place called Pinefish had $1 oysters during happy hour. Yep, $1. We were going.

It took a while to navigate all the one ways, but we eventually arrived to this:

 

Turns out, the happy hour oysters actually existed! Even better, cocktail shrimp and clams were also included in the deal!.  So, we did the logical thing and ordered a dozen of each.

 (our first batch)

I must say, the oysters were a bit disappointing, but GET THE CLAMS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oysters, clams and shrimp are great, but not enough for dinner. The waitress brought us the menus. My dad and brother aren’t seafood people so they got overpriced meat dishes (not worth discussing). My mom and I took advantage of the place. Strangely enough, we ordered almost the same things we did at EMC.

 (grilled fish of the day- I don’t recall what fish)

 (Spanish spicy seafood soup)

This place was like EMC, but 5x better. I swear the fish I ate was still swimming this morning. Basically if you’re ever in Philly, find this place.

Other notes: They bring seafood in fresh everyday and once it’s gone, it’s gone. Come early. The service was actually pretty fast, but the highlight was the great attitude of the staff.

Well, I hope you get a chance to check out the AMAZING restaurants. I’ll be back soon with the final installment. See you then!

 

Back from Summer!

HELLO!1 Looong time no post. I hope everyone’s had a great summer because I know I did!

Basically, this post will be an overview of what I’ve been up to and the following 2-3 will get into some specifics. There’s a lot to talk about, so let’s get started!

Nothing really happened the first month or so. I just chilled, took a few test prep classes and found out I got accepted to the China delegation for SAGE (Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship)- more on that later

Things picked up in July when I headed to the states with my mom.

I hung out in Irvine for some shopping, then straight to Writing camp!!! In March, I was accepted to the Iowa’s Young Writer’s studio hosted by the Iowa’s Writer’s Workshop. It was AMAZING. Imagine: 87 extremely talented (and some published) high school writers gathered at one of the top writing programs in the country, taught by actual professors from the studio, for 2 weeks. There were also nightly readings by phenomenal local authors and plenty of writing time. I actually got 3 pieces written and workshopped during the two weeks! We also had some pretty crazy reading assignments.If you haven’t read them already, I highly recommend Blu’s Hanging, Enrique’s Journey and Brokeback Mountain.

After came, everyone headed to the east coast for college visits.

Columbia- They were actually filming a movie based on the Senate Papers, but we weren’t allowed to take pics of the set. Anyways, Columbia was by far my favorite

Harvard- It was rainy and miserable so no pics 😦

UPenn

Yale- Yale has a really cool thing called a student forum. Basically, interested students gather and talk with current Yale students- no parents allowed!

Finally- UKRAINE for  SAGE!!!!!- # squad

Well, tomorrow its back to school. See you soon!

 

 

Dim Sum Brunch at the Pullman

Hi!!!! I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted, but I’m back!!! Yesterday, one of my mom’s college friends came over from Nanjing to visit. Usually, I’m usually not interested in these meetings, but she’s been working in Sweeden for a while. I was interested so I asked to tag along. Of course, lunch was a must. She happened to arrive by rail at the Shanghai Railway Station, so we knew just where to go.

The Century

 (I know, not the best picture)

The Century is an upscale dim sum restaurant at the Pullman Shanghai Jin’An. It’s literally less than a block from the south plaza of the railway station. Alternatively, take metro line 4 to the railway station and any exit will get you within 400m.

Unlike many other dim sum places, it follows more of a traditional, western, breakfast-lunch-dinner schedule. We arrived around 11, and it was pretty clear lunch hadn’t started yet. We had the staff and fish as company.

Of course, that wasn’t a problem. Less people means less waiting right?

Food

My mom and I have been here a couple of time before, so our expectations were through the roof. It was only the three of us, so we couldn’t order everything I wanted. We did get some of my favorites:

Steamed Items

Har Gao- Most, if not all, dim sum places have har gao. This place, however, takes it to another level. The skin is delicate and thin, but the star is the filling. It’s literally whole pieces of incredibly fresh shrimp with bits of bamboo shoots mixed in for another layer of texture and flavour.

Abalone Siu Mai- Siu mai is another must order dim sum dish. To me, it’s actually the true test of a dim sum place. I’ve only ever remember going to one or two places with truly good siu mai. Unfortunately, this wasn’t one of them. The flavor was definitely there, but the filling was overcooked and the skin was soggy and sticky.

Truffle and mushroom dumpling- While siu mai and har gao are traditional, this dish is definitely not. This was actually the best dim sum item I had there, every time. When having one, the gel-like skin melts away to reveal an incredibly aromatic and light, yet surprisingly meaty, filling. The textures were also on point. This is a must!

Char Siu Pastry- I’m not a fan of pastries, but my mom’s practically an expert. According to her, the Char siu pastry is the bomb. We ordered it, and sure enough, they didn’t disappoint. The pastry was crispy on the out side while flaky, buttery, but not overly rich inside. Definitely a good choice

Durian Pastry- Durian isn’t for everyone, but this place has got it down. The rich, slightly savoury pastry and incredible quality of ingredients really tones down the unpleasantness of durian. Again, highly suggested.

Roasts

No dim sum meal would be complete without some roasts.

Crispy skin roast pork- This dish was literally the best thing we ordered. The meat was perfectly tender, juicy and seasoned as well as not too fatty. The skin could not have been crispier. No reheating here! Of the 12 pieces, 10 were gone within 2 minutes

Mixed roasts platter (three item, half order)- I was just missing my pork, when this dish arrived. The three item platter consists of char siu, roast goose and, of course, more pork. The pork was still the star. The char siu had great flavor, but lacked much texture- too soft. The goose was cooked perfectly, but WAY too fatty. Honestly, this dish is overpriced (118rmb/ half order). I suggest ordering the pork and char siu separately.

Other items I highly recommend

Tofu casserole

Enoki mushroom in soup

Pickled Turnips

Roast squab (pigeon)

any of the steamed seafood

Service

Overall, the service was amazing. The food came out very fast and the staff were extremely polite and attentive. However, compared to the last few times, service quality has dipped, but that’s probably because we came at a very awkward time

Overall, this restaurant is AMAZING for any occassion, but come with a group for the best experience!

That’s it for this week… and the rest of summer. Until August, Bye!

Quick Trip to WuXi- Food!

Hi!! I’m back with the second part of my segment on WuXi- the FOOD!!!!! Food was definitely not the focus of this trip, but foodies manage to snag delicious eats everywhere.

WuXi Cuisine

Technically, “WuXi cuisine” doesn’t exist. It’s actually just a regional variation of Jiangsu cuisine. Thus, WuXi food is sweet, vinegary and delicate. There are, however, some distinguishing features and outstanding dishes unique to the WuXi area. Let’s explore!

火爆- Our First Taste

Our hosts, two of my mom’s former classmates, hadn’t seen her in over 20 years. Obviously, everyone was overjoyed to see each other. No way they were going to let us leave without trying local delicacies. So, the night we arrived, they invited us to 火爆.

火爆 is famous for it’s local dishes, but it’s more famous for something else: Crayfish.

Crayfish sounds random, but it’s actually the mascot of Chinese nightlife. Although ubiquitous, crayfish isn’t easy to keep fresh and or alive. 火爆’s got it perfect. Out of the over 10 “flavours”, we chose three: Ice shocked, Garlic and Chili oil (multiple plates of each were ordered)

  

None disappointed. They were perfectly fresh and AMAZINGLY flavourful. Even my brother and his friends, who usually avoid seafood, cleaned out at least a plate each. Personally, I liked the ice shocked- crayfish boiled in rice wine and spices then chilled- the best since it brought out the natural flavour instead of coating it in heavy sauce.

After we demolished over 5 plates of crayfish, the other dishes came rolling in. Here are the highlights:

WuXi special sauce ribs- This is WuXi’s signature dish. Basically the ribs are braised with sugar and spices until they are stupidly tender and covered in an incredibly sweet and rich sauce that. My mom, the boys and her classmates loved it but my dad and I found them too sweet.

Cow cheek meat- The ribs were too sweet for me, but this dish was just my style. I have a love for the stranger parts of animals. Even if you don’t share my love, ORDER THIS! The meat is perfectly tender and flavorful. Even the tendon (there was plenty of it) was nearly at a melt- in- your- mouth level.

Duck Blood and Offal with vermicelli in thick broth- I realize blood and offal aren’t on most people’s favorite foods list, but trust me, this dish is worth it. The star of this dish is actually neither the blood nor the offal nor the vermicelli; it’s the incredibly rich broth. That stuff will make ANYTHING taste good.

Fish with sour pickles- This is another seemingly ubiquitous dish that the restaurant took to new levels. The fish, which was alive until the chef decided to cook it, is braised in pretty much the same broth that made the duck dish sooooo good. The meat was velvety and tender yet pleasantly springy.

The Old Town

Last post, I mentioned that we popped over to old town for lunch before heading home. When we arrived, I was stunned by the beautiful, well preserved architecture, but one thing was missing: street food. Most shops were either selling tourist goods (ie cheap toys), or the famous WuXi “clay people”

 

There was an abundance of flaky pastries of every which flavor and size. I personally don’t like them, but they are one of WuXi’s specialties. They’re definitely worth trying, even if it’s only a bite.

The main food scene in the old town is in it’s restaurants and tea places. I have to credit my little bro and his friends for scouting out the best one: A Bite of WuXi. The entire Jiangsu area is legendary for it’s soup dumplings. This restaurant is doubly qualified because it’s the exact place where they filmed a segment on soup dumplings for A Bite of China (I highly recommend this TV show)

 

We ordered the generic pork and crab roe dumplings as well as one of the Giants (a bigger version of the generic with 5x the soup). Words cannot describe the amazingness of the dumplings. each one is made to order and the skin was sooo thin and delicate. The soup level was also off the chart and not too salty. Come HERE!!!! even if it takes a while to find.

 (some samplings)

So that’s it for this quick trip. See you guys soon!

 

 

Quick Trip to WuXi- Let’s Clean a Mountain!

Hello World! School is OVER!!!! Even better, I passed my finals with flying colors! My plan was just to lay low for the first week to unwind after finals. My mom had a far better idea. On the 10th, we joined up with two other families and popped over to nearby WuXi to help clean up some trails. While this seems a bit random, it’s actually a test run for a project we’re trying to get started called Beautiful Mountains and Rivers.

WuXi

WuXi is a historical city in Jiangsu province about a 2 hour drive from Shanghai. At the city’s center is a lake bordered by some low mountains covered in scenic forests. From a hiking perspective, the “mountains” are only 400m, but what they lack in difficulty they make up in scenery

 

More importantly, we went to WuXi because two of my mom’s former high school classmates are prominent members of an organization, started some local entrepreneurs, called 丹顶鹤 that’s been helping to keep the mountains clean every weekend for the last 4 and a half years.

丹顶鹤, not only helps pick up trash, but also does advocacy to promote environmentalism, physical well- being and happiness. (This included shouting out the slogan on the middle of the mountain)

 

It was an absolute blast. The weather was absolutely perfect, and since it rained the day before, it wasn’t even that hot. The lack of tourists also meant a relative lack of trash, but there was still plenty to do:

After a few hours, everyone was pretty pooped, so group leader led us up to a little tea place at the top of the mountain.

There, the whole group sat around and had a lively discussion  philosophical debate about the differences between education in China and the US. The takeaway: America needs more basics; China needs to CHILL OUT and let children do what they enjoy.

Time flew by. Unfortunately, we had to leave or face late checkout costs and impending traffic on the way back. The first problem was avoided by getting down the mountain and checking out without showering 😦 As for the second problem, we ignored it and shopped around old town  instead- screw traffic!

After a great lunch and a box of wax berries (Highly recommended), we headed back. What a great trip!

Next post, I’ll share some of the delicious eats. Until then, See ya!

 

 

Fun with Friends at the Oriental Pearl Tower

Hi!!! Long time no post. It’s been pretty busy with review and exams these past two weeks, but almost done! (Bio tomorrow) Yesterday, I finally got my SATIIs out of the way and I was going to suggest going out for dinner. As it turns out, I didn’t need to. My dad’s college classmate in Munich, the same ones we visited, came to Shanghai on Thursday with her two kids. We had such a great time at her place last summer in Munich(actually, I pretty much cleaned off the berries) so I really looked forward to seeing her again. Dinner was a must and so was visiting LuJiaZui, so why not kill two birds with one stone: Eat at the revolving restaurant at the top of the Oriental Pearl TV Tower.

 (The restaurant is in the second ball)

About the Tower

The Oriental Pearl Tower is among Pudong’s first attractions. It’s 486 meters high with the restaurant at 267m, pretty high up there! There are also observation decks, including one at 263m with a cool glass walkway:

As well as an arcade/amusement park at 98m

Not a fan of heights? At the ground floor, there’s a Shanghai city museum, an aquarium nearby and some pretty decent restaurants.

The Restaurant

The Revolving Restaurant is one of the coolest eateries EVER!!! For 328RMB/ person (a bit overpriced), you get to eat dinner while enjoying a full 360 view of the Bund and LuJiaZui over the course of 2 hours.

 

Another perk, there’s no epic queueing to get up there. Those going to the restaurant have a “Special entryway” up the tower. They expect you to go straight to the restaurant, but there’s nothing to stop you from heading down a couple of stairs to the observation deck. As long as 1/2 of the group is in the restaurant 30 minutes before the reserved time, everything’s fine. It was 5:30 and everyone was pretty hungry, so we headed directly for the food.

Food

Speaking of food, it was mediocre at best. There was a large selection, but it was more quantity over quality.

Most of the food was slow to be replaced or over/under seasoned. The Japanese/Seafood section, usually my favorite, lacked quantity or quality. We had to wait almost an hour before they stopped “running out of sashimi”. The rolls were also horrendous. The worst part was that nearly everything was cold and had obviously been sitting out for a while. This was especially obvious in the soft skins and pooled fat of the Cantonese roasts.

Not everything was bad though. The sausage was better than most places in China and the grill was pretty great, but had pretty epic queueing. The highlight was definitely the mini hot pot. There was a pretty wide variety of items ranging from tofu to pork belly to seaweed to more exotic items such as quail egg and intestine.

Fortunately, our guests were far more impressed with the food.

Visiting tips:

  1.  Unless epic queues and cheesy arcade games are your thing, don’t buy tickets for anything other than DINNER at the revolving restaurant. Avoid going between 4-6, since that’s the awkward time between peak meal times with the worst food.
  2. Remember, queues are unavoidable. A direct ticket up does not mean a direct ticket down. It took us a good 40 min to actually get down.
  3. Definitely go slightly before sunset on a clear day, especially in the warmer months. It is BEAUTIFUL.

 

Well, that’s it for this post. Have a great week and see you soon!

 

 

YuZu at HSBC Tower

Hi!!! Usually on Sundays, we go out for dinner at some mediocre restaurant because we’re too lazy to cook. Yesterday, however, we had not 1 but special occasions to celebrate: my birthday, my parent’s anniversary and the 120th birthday of my parent’s alma mater- Zhejiang University

 Some classmates paid to have the empire state building blue!

With that in mind, a mediocre restaurant wasn’t going to cut it. I really liked Japanese, so my dad scouted out Yuzu at the HSBC.

YuZu

YuZu is a fairly high end restaurant on the 46th floor of the HSBC building in LuJiaZui. Although it’s pretty big, it’s still hard to get reservations. Fortunately, my dad called in early so we did get a table with a pretty sick view

Food

The menu has a fairly wide selection of traditional Japanese dishes and some other additions. Ordering a la carte is okay, but if you’re hungry and like Japanese food, pay 300rmb/ person and you can order unlimited items from the menu! Of course that’s what we did. In fact, we got at least 15 dishes. Here are the highlights

 Monkfish Liver in Vinegar

Fun fact! Monkfish is actually not a fish but a type of shark. Biology aside it’s liver is very tasty. The classic “liver taste” is definitely there but much milder and the salty vinegar helps remove the fishiness. It was also very fresh, unlike the frozen, half-thawed version I had before.

 Sashimi Platter (octupus, uni and surf clam)

You have to order each sashimi separately and it is quite expensive. Unlimited ordering for the win! The sashimi was very fresh and both the surf clam and octopus were pleasantly tender. The uni was sweet and rich, but it’s best to eat it fast, or else the ice melts and you end up eating water logged sea urchin 😦

 Horse Meat Sashimi

Yes, horse meat, as in the 4 legged equestrian animal. I always like trying strange new foods, so I was very excited to try this. I must say, I was quite disappointed. The meat was extremely fresh and tender, but it tasted like beef, but milder.

 Smoked Ray fish Fin

This is another of the “try new” dishes. It was really good and tastes a lot like Chinese dried fish snack but thicker and chewier. I suggest this and would make a snack.

 Fermented Soy beans

Apparently, this is great for digestion, so we ordered it. To put it frankly, it’s just moldy soybeans used as the base for miso. It wasn’t bad, but slimy and tasteless. I wouldn’t suggest this.

 Grilled Tuna Neck

This was literally the highlight of the night. The fish was perfectly charred and seasoned. The meat was tender and VERY fresh. The neck is dense but not too fatty, perfect!

We also ordered some very good but ordinary dishes, for example, yakatori chicken, grilled salmon fin and various sushis. Honestly, anything on the menu would probably taste at least decent.

Service

The service overall was great, but there were some glaring inconsistencies. The staff attitude was on point; however, some of the dishes were unusually slow to come out. For example, our pickle platter was one of the first things we ordered but one of the last to arrive. My mom joked that they had to grow the vegetables and pickle them before serving. Other dishes, like the grilled tuna neck came out pleasantly fast and surprisingly so.

Overall Impression

Overall, YuZu is a great choice for any occasion with great food, atmosphere and service. I will definitely find “excuses” for going back.

I hope everyone has a good week and see you next week!

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day

It’s May 14th and AP exams are finally over. More importantly, it’s Mother’s Day! My mom is amazing. My brother bought flowers; dad made congee; I decided to make mom breakfast. Unfortunately, I didn’t have flour, butter or sugar at home 😦 However, we did have bread, yogurt and lots of eggs. French toast it was. Of course, any ordinary french toast wouldn’t do, thus, behold:

Baked French toast sandwich with Nutella.

French toast seems simple, but there’s more than meet’s the eye. Don’t believe me, check out this Serious Eats article (click here) The article goes into great detail about ratios and such. I never paid that much detail or did that many experiments; however, I learned a few tricks:

  1. Instead of using only cream or milk, add a bit of flavoured yogurt. Yogurt makes the custard thicker, creamier and more flavourful. I suggest a 1:1 ratio of yogurt to milk or nix the milk altogether. When using yogurt, cut back on sugar since most flavoured yogurts have more than enough sugar
  2. Soak the toast for at least 5 minutes or until the custard penetrates the entire thickness of the bread( chop the crust off for best results). While soaking for as long as possible may seem like a good idea, over soaking will compromise the structural integrity of the toast and make the french toast floppy and flat. Unless you’re using day’s old and or very crusty bread, don’t soak for more than 30min.
  3. Speaking of bread, any bread will work, but please stay away from very dense or very airy breads. For example, either pure white breads or those whole wheat health breads aren’t the best. I used semi- whole wheat bread, but some good Challah would’ve been better.

Without further ado, here’s a basic recipe for french toast. Feel free to customize:


Basic French Toast

  • Servings: 4 slices (about enough for 2 people or 1 very hungry person
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 4 slices of bread
  • 4 eggs
  • 6 tbsp of flavored yogurt
  • 4 tsp sugar, additional for sprinkling and caramelizing
  • a splash of milk, no more than 1/4 cup
  • Oil, butter or cooking spray

Directions

  1. Preferably in separate bowls, beat each egg with 1.5tbsp of yogurt, 1 tsp of sugar and a splash of milk.
  2. Dip and let the bread soak for a minimum of 5 min (refer to tip 2). Flip ever so often so all sides are covered. Optional: sprinkle both sides with a thin layer of sugar
  3. Heat a pan to high heat and sear for 1-2 min/side or until a crust forms, then turn the heat down and cook for 1-2 more min/ side. Garnish as wanted!

Alternately, for a baked version

  1. follow steps 1 and 2
  2. Preheat the oven to 150C and bake for 10-20min, depending on the thickness of bread
  3. Garnish as wanted, serve and Enjoy! optional: turn on the broiler or sear for a crust

Don’t have a sweet tooth? Check out this recipe for savoury toast (click here)Anyways, have a great Mother’s day and Enjoy some toast!

 

Il Bambino at the The Cool Docks

Today is May 1st, China’s labour day so no school :). Since there’s no school, we decided to go out for dinner in PuXi at The Cool Docks. There were quite a few restaurants. I wanted Japanese and Korean Barbecue, but my brother wanted Italian. Thus, we ended up at Il Bambino

The Cool Docks

The Cool Docks are one of Shanghai’s newer attractions. It’s a little alcove of restaurants and bars about 500m from the ferry stop. Due to an ongoing project to expand the bund, most of the area around was under construction. That kind of ruined the scenery, but once its done, there’ll be a fully connected riverside path. So Pretty!!!!

 

When we got there, it was quite late and we were pretty hungry. We took a little loop to scout out a restaurant. My brother wanted Italian; he got Italian.

Il Bambino

Il Bambino is the only Italian Restaurant in the Cool Docks. I personally don’t like Italian food and I was fully prepared to argue; however, I noticed 2 things: 1) The restaurant looked nice 2) Steak was 40% off! We followed a VERY courteous waiter in.

Food

The menu is not very large. It had a couple of appetizers, pastas, risotto, seafood and of course steak. Despite the steak promotion, the menu was definitely seafood heavy. So, onto the food.

I had every intention of ordering steak, but the Mixed Seafood Platter caught my eye before I made it to the steak selection. The description promised calamari, crab, prawns, cod, salmon and lobster on a bed of spring vegetables and with lemon parsley juice. I expected a pile of grilled seafood coated in rich butter. When it arrived, I got a beautifully plated, but disappointingly small, portion of the promised seafood. It was well oiled, but the lemon cut through very well. On the other hand, the calimari and prawns were a bit overcooked 😦 More vegetables would also have been nice. Overall, a fresh and delicious dish.

 ( not a great pic…. but it’s the taste that matters)

My brother went straight for the steak menu. He order a beef tenderloin with foie gras, mushroom sauce and mash potatoes. It was, in his words, amazingly delicious. It was so good, in fact, that he ordered a second one. The steak was perfectly medium- rare and incredibly tender as well as well seasoned. The mash looked smooth and paired perfectly with the sauce and foie gras. Not into fattened goose liver? No problem, just tell the server. On a side note, this dish does take quite a while to make. Be prepared to wait.

My mom ordered a cut of veal with red wine sauce and potato puree. It too, was beautifully plated and extremely tender despite being ordered medium; however, it was very under-seasoned. Luckily, there was plenty of salt in the shaker.

My dad ordered lobster linguine. Honestly, he would have been better off getting steak, but his choice. I’m not into pasta, especially when it’s drenched in an oily sauce, but I must say, the lobster was very tender.

Apparently, as part of the steak deal, ordering the veal gets you a choice between tiramisu and durian cake as a free dessert. My brother hates durian and tried to get the tiramisu, but my mom ordered the veal. It was her choice; she picked the durian cake. It was pretty, but apparently the durian wasn’t fresh 😦 It was a pretty disappointing end to her dinner.

Service and Atmosphere

Il Bambino is quite new. That is both good and bad for the service and atmosphere:

Good

  •  wait staff is exceedingly courteous
  • the restaurant was pretty much empty so we got a private booth with full view of the river
  • The interior looked new and sharp

Bad

  •  Lack of customers => slow service
  • The restaurant felt very empty and lonely

Overall Impression

Overall, Il Bambino is a great restaurant, but it could pay more attention to some little details. I think more time will bring more customers and the kinks should work themselves out.

Anyways, that was the perfect way to spend what would have been a lazy Sunday evening. Hope you week is/was great! Bye!