Torikin- Shanghai’s best yakitori

Hi!!! I hope everyone’s started their countdown to Christmas because the 15 days are sure to fly by. Shanghai’s isn’t really known for it’s Christmas spirit, but the decorations and music are already coming up. For students, the tail end of December means FINALS WEEK. Sure, exams are stressful, but it also means a 90% drop in actual schoolwork. Less schoolwork= more time= more eats!

As everybody probably knows, I’m a HUGE sucker for roast meat/fish. I’m also a diehard fan of Japanese cuisine. The Japanese beat me to the punch about 200 years ago and came up with Yakitori, those  ubiquitous skewers offered at Japanese restaurants. Yakitori, or “grilled chicken” in Japanese, is traditionally cooked over a charcoal grill to impart a deliciously smoky and slightly charred flavour. Unfortunately, due to either laziness, fire safety laws or a combination of both, most restaurants outside of Japan resort to the fryer, leading to greasy skewers lacking depth. Then, I discovered Toriyasu.

Torikin

Torikin is the type of small hole in the wall gem I cannot resist going to. It’s also known as Shanghai’s best yakitori joint. The trick is to find it. The original joint was at 2876 Yan’an West Rd, a true hole in the wall.

Unfortunately, we did not know this location closed a year ago and spent a good 30 minutes trying to find it. The newer location is at 890 Changning Rd on the second floor of Rose center, a slightly shady little plaza behind the Renaissance Hotel. The plaza also happens to be exit 3 for metro line 2 at the Zhongshan Park station. (That tip would have saved us at least 45minutes)

We did eventually get there; I was pretty hungry; Time to eat!

Food

Torikin is famous for the Yakitori, so ordering should be simple, right? Well, not when the menu features three pages of options. The restaurant tries to help out with its “Top 10 Orders” list

but….. I don’t speak Japanese. I went by intuition- Here’s the highlights. Based on the top 10 list, I’d say I have pretty good intuition

Chicken Liver- Liver is probably one of the last things most people would order on a yakatori menu. Although I love liver, I would agree. Undercook the liver and it becomes a bloody, nausea inducing mess. Overcook by mere seconds and it develops a sickening powdery texture. However, at Torikin, liver is ranked number ,1 for good reason. The liver itself was incredibly fresh, which did wonders to minimize the offputting aftertaste often associated with liver. The smoke and expert seasoning further enhanced the natural, rich, irony flavor. Most importantly, the cook was impeccable. Note: give this a try, but remember, the smoke and spice enhance flavor, not remove it. If you don’t like the actual taste of liver, you won’t like this.

Crispy Chicken Skin- Liver can be controversial, but few would dispute the merits of perfectly crispy chicken skin. Thus it’s no surprise this dish ranked #3. Torikin managed to take an already great dish to another level. First, they accordian the skin to prevent it from drying out. This keeps it crispy without a grainy texture. They also manage to keep the skin thick without making the skewers oil slicks. AMAZING!

Salmon Cheek (salmon head on the menu)- This dish isn’t technically yakitori, but I can’t resist salmon head. It didn’t even realize it made top ten. When the dish arrived, I realized “salmon head” was a mistranslation. What we got was three thick, meaty pieces of salmon cheek. I could not have been more impressed. Besides being incredibly fresh, the fish had a perfect fat ratio. The cook turned out to be better than the meat. Not only was the skin perfectly crispy, the meat was JUICY, like a steak! The spices and smokiness also magnified the beautiful natural richness of the salmon. Even my dad, who hates fish, raved about this dish. ORDER THIS!!!!

Beef Tongue- This dish, like chicken skin, is another deceptively simple delicacy on the top 10. Although tongue provides a great, beefy flavour at nearly all cooks, Torikin managed to find a sweet spot between medium rare and medium that allowed just enough blood to cut the natural fattiness of the meat. I think it’s repetitive to mention the magic of smoke and seasoning at this point.

Chicken Cartilidge- Although this sounds strange, it’s actually one of the most popular yakitori items.  By the time this dish arrived, my expectations were through the roof, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. The key to great cartilidge is crunch and juice without greasiness. Check and Check. To elevate the flavor, add light seasoning and charcoal smoke. Check. To make it top ten, trim each piece to get the perfect balance. Yes, I watched the chef work each piece and literally crouch down to the table before skewering it. That’s the precision and dedication at this restaurant.

Tuna jaw- I saved the best for last. This dish isn’t on the top 10, but it deserves to be number 1 by my standards. Personally, I think the problem isn’t the taste, but the size. The thing is MASSIVE. There’s literally a good 6-8 oz of pure meat under that perfectly crispy, deliciously fatty skin. Speaking of the meat, it was jucier than the salmon.

Not pictured but thoroughly enjoyed- Shitake Mushroom, Grilled onion (think onions stink, think again), chicken neck, chicken wing

Note 1: Torikin is best known for its yakitori, but the owner, and the very oblidging veteran diners next to us, also highly recommend the shabu shabu and one of the various soba dishes. The appetizer plates are also highly recommended. This is important because yakitori takes forever to get the perfect cook, and nothing less than perfect cook comes off the line at Torikin

Note 2: Yakitori adds up fast! Those little skewers seem innocent enough, but before you know it, you end up with a bucket of used sticks and a massive stomachache. Unfortunately, unlike at most restaurants where you can avoid overeating by not ordering sub par dishes, an unordered dish at Torikin is a HUGE missed opportunity

Service and Atmosphere

 

I would say the service and atmosphere were the highlight, but the food was too good. Its vibe is a combination of a small  post work hangout and an intimate family joint. The rush of the wait staff and excited conversations created a lively and friendly but not overwhelming atmosphere.

Tip: For parties of more than 2 people, make reservations. If you don’t speak Japanese, go on weekends

The service was also too good to be true. The staff was obliging and our waitress actually took the time to translate the “top 10 list” and gave me a few pronunciation tips. The store owner was also more than amazing. She conversed with patrons (in fluent Japanese) and spent time making sure everyone was happy. She must have felt bad that we had to wait for our yakitori because she not only rushed our orders but gave us free marshmallow skewers. Honestly, I’d go back just for the service

Overall Impression

This is probably one of the best restaurants I’ve ever been to. I’ll definitely find any excuse to go back. If any of you ever come to Shanghai, remember Hongqiao airport has a line 2 metro and Pudong Airport also makes connections.

Well, that’s it for this week. I hope everyone has a great week and until we meet again- Happy Holidays!

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Shang-High Cuisine: Shanghai’s newest Michelin Starred Restaurant

Hi!! It’s only been 4 days since my last post, but when good food’s been eaten, it’s time to write. Yesterday was my brother’s last night here before going back to boarding school in the States, so of course we had to go out and celebrate. As usual, I got to choose the restaurant, and I knew exactly where to go: Shang- High at the Jumeirah Himalayas Hotel. My parents were reluctant as the place is quite far from the apartment, but my brother conveniently arranged a playdate near the place. We HAD to go.

Shang-High Cuisine

 

Shang-High at the Jumeirah Himalayas Hotel is Shanghai’s newest Michelin Starred restaurant. The hotel is attatched to the Himalayas Center, inconveniently placed across from a big expo center and the far superior( in terms of hanging out and shopping) Kerry Parkside. Honestly, if it wasn’t for the large banner announcing its Michelin status, I would never have thought to go there. Fortunately, the banner went up because Michelin starred Chinese restaurants are few and far between.

Food

As the name suggests, this restaurant focuses on Shanghai food. Sure enough, most of the recommended dishes are Shanghaiese- “San huang Chicken”, Lion’s head meatballs….. However, the menu contains quite a variety of classic, and not so classic, dishes from all over China. As usual, our stomachs aren’t quite as ambitious as our minds. Here’s what we got:

Quail eggs with Braised Cuttlefish- I probably should have gotten something like San Huang Chicken or smoked carp, but after seeing a picture, the choice was clear. Why? This dish featured cooked quail eggs that had translucent whites! Now that’s technique/ innovation. Taste wise, the dish was good, but not spectacular. The Cuttlefish was ridiculously tender and well flavored, but pretty ordinary. The eggs, although really cool, literally tasted like hard boiled eggs, unseasoned.

Fish Lip and Soybean soup- This was honestly the highlight of the night. I know I’m a sucker for weird parts, but trust me, this soup is off the charts. The broth is thick and rich from the collagen and soybean starch, but doesn’t grease or stick to the palate like many meat based broths do. Even better, the depth of flavor was INSANE. Order this dish.

Stir fried River Snails with Green beans- The waitress recommended this dish, but I really don’t know why. Sure, the meat was fresh, not overcooked and the dish was well seasoned, but like most restaurant stir-fries, it was greasy. Not bad by any means, but not something worth ordering at a Michelin starred restaurant

Stir- Fried river prawns- This Shanghai classic is actually one of their signature dishes. Personally, I don’t like stir fried seafood, so I’m not the best judge,but I must say the shrimp was incredibly fresh, flavorful and light. However, given the 218RMB (32USD) price tag, I wouldn’t say it’s exactly worth ordering, especially since restaurants like Shanghai Min have similar quality versions at much cheaper prices.

4 Treasures Seafood Dumplings-I get excited when I see seafood dumplings offered at nice restaurants, but my excitement quickly faded when the dumplings arrived. Sure, they were pretty, but I immediately noticed the tops were dried. When I broke into the dumpling, I found that “4 treasures” meant flavorless and textureless morsels of carrots, garlic, wood ear and spring onion. “Seafood” also conotated a lone piece of shrimp wrapped inside. Luckily, the flavor and freshness of the shrimp as well as the impressive amount of soup saved the dish.

Braised Lion’s Head Meatball with Cabbage- This is another one of their signature dishes, and definitely did not disappoint. First, the meatballs were HUGE, at least 5-6 oz each (we ordered 2). More importantly, they had an incredible “rich but not fatty” taste. I don’t know what secret spices they put into that thing, but it definitely belongs as a signature dish

Disclaimer: Take my reviews with a grain of salt. I ordered what I thought we would enjoy, not exactly the dishes that got the restaurant famous. 

What I wish I ordered: San Huang Chicken, drunken crab, Pork and crab roe Xiaolong, crispy skinned pigeon

Service and Atmosphere

 

This was the highlight of the meal. The restaurant, although small and open, had a cozy but very upscale feel. The traditional Chinese furniture was simple yet elegant and really contributed to the demure atmosphere. The staff were courteous, attentive and very very elegant. The most surprising would be the speed of service. Our egg dish came within 10 minutes of ordering.

Overall Impression

Overall, the restaurant was good, especially the service and atmosphere; however, I’m confused as to why this restaurant deserves a Michelin star, especially since I’ve been to cheaper restaurants where the food was just as good, if not better.

That’s it for now. I hope everyone has a great week! Until next time, Bye!

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving! What I’m Grateful For

Hi!! Today’s the day after Thanksgiving and I hope every one had plenty of turkey and pie.

To celebrate, we hosted a little party at our house with my parents college classmates and some coworkers. To be honest, the food was mediocre :(, but that didn’t dampen the spirit. Everyone had a blast. I conked out at 9, but the adults kept going well past midnight. Its honestly amazing how long college memories stay.

Since a food post isn’t in order, I’d like to take this opportunity to honor what Thanksgiving is truly about: Giving Thanks!

Top 5 Thing I’m Grateful for 2017

  1. Family, financial security, staying alive, education…. These are the cliche responses that every child puts down to satisfy parents, teachers ,etc, but no matter how cliche, I can’t emphasize enough how important these things are to me. I mean, I wouldn’t exist without my parents, right? I can’t travel or eat if I’m not alive, right? I won’t have a future without an education, right?
  2. My  Classes- This is the first year I don’t have a prescribed courseload, so I got to choose the courses I wanted to take. I really couldn’t have been happier with my choices. First, I get to do 5 research projects, on topics of MY choice. More importantly, the courses themselves are AMAZING. I’m even enjoyng Calc BC, and I don’t even like math! Even better, my history teacher (IB History) gave us the best gift ever. We were going to do an Americas unit for Paper 3, but after a “coup”, she switched to an European Unit focused on WWII and the USSR- literally my two favorite topics.
  3. My Teachers- On a related note, the classes wouldn’t be half as good without great teacher. I struck gold this year. My Calc teacher, in his 7 years of teaching Calc BC, has only had 1 student score below a 5 ( that student got a 4). My Chem teacher is the same science teacher I’ve had for the past three years. He loves food and cats just like me, and even let me sous vide scallops during a lecture once. My Capstone teacher is the kind of teacher that will go through 5+ drafts of a college essay with a student he doesn’t even teach. My favorite has to my my English teacher. He’s may have taught AP English for over 15 years and read the test for over 10, but he has more spunk and energy than most college Frat boys. (On an unrelated note, he looks like Tony Stark)
  4. The New Apartment- I don’t think I’ve mentioned this on the blog, but we moved to a new apartment in June. The neighborhood is literally less than 2km from the heart of LuJiaZui; the newly build riverside path is less than 400m from the house and the views!!!!!    . Recently, we also got the kitchen renovated. My parents actually got me a fancy new oven- I didn’t even ask!!!
  5. Mao Mao- Technically,we (my brother) found him last October, but since he’s only gotten cuter, smarter and more affectionate, I’ll mention him. Of course, pictures speak better than words:

 

 

That’s it for this (long) post. I hope every one had a great celebration and plenty to be grateful for! See you next time!

 

Ding Tai Feng at Superbrand Mall

Hi!!! I’m back this week with another food adventure! Okay, I admit, maybe going to a restaurant two miles from my house doesn’t really count as an adventure, but close enough. Let’s eat!

Ding Tai Feng

 

Ding Tai Feng is one of the most popular Taiwanese joints EVER. It started in Taipei and has since spread to China, America and even the UAE. I’ve only been to the LA branch and loved it, despite the 30minute wait for seats. Lines aren’t a big problem at Shanghai’s  Ding Tai Feng’s, after all, there are 6 (Twice as many as Taiwan has). As for quality, reviews are very mixed. Of course, I can’t judge a restaurant until I’ve tried the food.

Food

Ding Tai Feng is a tried and true Taiwanese restaurant with the usual steamed buns, soups and beef noodles. However, it’s really adapted to Shanghai tastes. The menu features not traditional steamed dumplings, but variations of Xiaolong soup dumplings! I must say though, the options were pretty limited compared to the LA joint and creativity with Xiaolongs came at the expense of more traditional dishes such as har gao. Here’s what we got:

 (Isn’t the little chicken cute?) 

Chicken Xiaolong- I knew I had to try the Xiaolong, but I realized ordering the traditional pork versions was just going to waste stomach space. I wanted to try the Xiaolong I wouldn’t get elsewhere, hence, Chicken Xiaolong. I must say, I made the right decision. The meat, although slightly drier than pork, was still incredibly flavorful. The broth was just DIVINE- all the flavor, none of the grease.

Snake Gourd and shrimp Xiaolong- I’m a sucker for dumplings with shrimp inside, but usually, a “shrimp dumpling” is just a whole lot of pork with a piece of shrimp. Not here. This dumpling is pure shrimp. But shrimp doesn’t have juice, so these couldn’t have been xiaolong, right? WRONG! The snake gourd- a smooth, watery vegetable- helped create a refreshing and light, yet incredibly flavorful soup. ORDER THIS!

Fish and vegetable thick broth- This dish is a traditional thick soup (gen) with fish, tofu and sheperd’s purse. At first, I was excited to see this on the menu, but it quickly turned out to be the most disappointing dish of the night. The broth was well seasoned and umami, but the flavor was one dimensional. The fish itself was also flavorless

Longevity Peach buns- These buns may look fruity, but they’re actually filled with red bean paste. I personally don’t like sweet buns, but my bro does so I got two for him to try. The buns were good and the paste was smooth and sweet, but these are nothing special.

Not pictured: egg and pork fried rice (for my bro) and spicy braised beef shank noodle soup

Service and Atmosphere

 

The atmosphere was the perfect combination between nice Chinese restaurant and hectic dim sum shop. The decor was comfortable and upscale, but we got a full view of the dim sum making Service was also pretty good. The staff were friendly and obliging but the steamed dishes took quite a while. Of course, I can’t hold that against them considering the volume of orders.

Overall Impression

Overall, I was surprisingly pleased with Ding Tai Feng. It definitely wasn’t as good as the LA branch in terms of variety, but the food was comparable. I definitely want to try out the original at Taiwan

Paulaner Brauhaus BinJiang

Hi!! I’m back! Last week was very busy with 2 tests, a presentation and essay, but my weekend was free, so why not eat out. Where?

Well, going to Haxnbauer last week reminded me of Paulaner Brauhaus. They have a location in XinTianDi that I’ve wanted to go to for months, but it’s always packed. The last time I stopped by, there was a 1 hour wait- for lunch! Luckily, my dad had a solution. As it turns out, there was a Paulaner a little more than 2 miles from our house! We HAD to go!

Paulaner Brauhaus

 

Paulaner Brauhaus is a very popular chain beirgarten/brewery out of Munich with branches throughout Europe and Asia. It’s most famous for its beer; however, I’m obviously unqualified to judge. Regarding the food, I’m usually wary of chains, but a German I met at the neighborhood compound a few months ago said it was “one of the few German restaurants worth going to.” Well, good enough by my book.

Food

The menu is pretty traditional Bavarian fare, featuring the usual sausages, haxe roasts, spatzel and potatoes. They also had some non- German dishes like ragout and even a seafood platter. I’m sure those options aren’t bad, but I came for the German food. Of course, since it was just my dad and I, we couldn’t order all the dishes we wanted, but Paulaner had the answer.

Meet Paulaner’s Mixed Bavarian Combination:

 (Terrible pic, here’s how it’s supposed to look)

With this one platter, you get 1/2 a crispy skinned haxe, some smoked pork neck, 3 types of sausages, ham, all piled on top a heaping mound of saurkraut and doused with gravy. How did it taste?

Sausages- The platter came with three types of grilled sausages- Pork, veal and weisswurst. These were AMAZING, definitely better than Haxenbaur’s. The meat was smooth and not too fatty. I could actually taste the distinct flavors of the meats. There’s actually a Sausage Platter featuring 7types of sausages that I definitely want to check out.

Haxe- The description actually called for cured haxe, so I was pleasantly surprised when they served us the crispy skinned version. The skin and meat were cooked to perfection; however, it lacked flavour. Nice effort, but could be better

Smoked Pork Neck- This cut had the same merits and flaws as the haxe. The meat was tender and amazing, but it was underseasoned and worse, completely lacked smoky flavor. I wouldn’t recommend this.

Ham- I’m usually not a fan of ham or meatloaf, but this tasted just like the delicious “meatloaf” I had in Munich. The only problem was that it was at the bottom of the pile, so the gravy got a bit overwhelming

(Sorry about the lack of pictures, it was dark and we were hungry)

Atmosphere/Service

Honestly, the service and atmosphere were the highlight of the dinner. We chose to sit outside and got this view:

Inside, it had all the cheerful, lively chatter a good biergarten should have. Paulaner is definitely a great place for a casual meeting with friends or even date night

 

Service was also very fast and good. Our food literally arrived within 10minutes.

Overall

Overall, I was disappointed by the food, but I wouldn’t discount the atmosphere and beer (for those of age). I’ll probably not come back to this location, but I’ll definitely try out some of the other locations.

That’s it for this now. I hope everyone has a great week. Holiday season’s coming up. There’ll definitely be tastes to be savoured there. Until next time, bye!

 

 

Haxnbauer at Shanxi Road

Hi!!! This morning, I had quite a bit of free time and my mom wanted to update our decour with some nice China ware. So…. we called up the all knowledgeable Driver Yu for a reccomendation. He directed us to the Jin De Zheng shop on ShanXi Rd. Time for an excursion!

There was traffic on the road, so we didn’t get to the shop until about 12. We found it in an alley between two large shopping centers. The chinaware was exquisite, but very overpriced. After 20 minutes or so of browsing, the big question remained: Where to have lunch? I suggested walking down to Light and Salt (which was only 3 blocks away). They agreed and we set off. We made it 100meters before my dad noticed this:

At first, I was skeptical as the German food in Shanghai is lacking at best, but as always, I’m a sucker for grilled meats. In we went!

Haxnbauer

Haxnbauer is a fairly popular Munich based restaurant specializing in traditional Bavarian foods. As the name suggests, it’s known for its haxe (pork knuckle). They have the typical crispy skinned variety as well as more “creative” versions like a cheese stuffed baked Haxe. If a 2-lb hunk of crispy skin, buttery fat and tender meat aren’t up your alley, it has all the traditional sausages. For larger parties, they have “special platters”, with all the fixings. To go with the insane quantities of meat offered, Haxnbauer offers equally traditional sides like pretzel, potato salad, mashed potatoes…. getting the memo?

Food

Looking at the menu, I had a hard time deciding between Haxe and one of the many sausage varieties.  After much waffling, I realized  that as much as I wanted to stuff down some haxe , I didn’t want to piss off my stomach with a fat and protein overload, especially with the afternoon still ahead of me. Anyways, here’s what we got:

Beef Goulash- My mom doesn’t really have much of an appetizer for heavy meats, so I suggested a soup. She chose the goulash. Well, turns out the goulash was chock full of thick hunks of tender beef and potatoes… so much for a “light lunch” As expected, the soup was incredibly hearty and flavorful. My mom really enjoyed it .

Spicy Chicken Sausage- After waffling between Haxe and sausage, I then waffled between the varieties of sausage. In the end, I chose the spicy chicken sausage, just to try something new. It came with potato salad and sauteed sauerkraut. I must admit, I was disappointed by the sausage. It was far from the worst, but the spice completely overwhelmed the taste of the meat. The sides on the other hand, were amazing, especially the kraut.

Boiled Pork Sausage- Since I got the chicken sausage, my dad got the pork sausage. It also came with sauerkraut and potato salad. After having a taste, I regret not ordering this. It was by far the best sausage I’ve had in China. The meat was finely ground and well mixed, no globs of fat. It was also not greasy or overly oily by any means.

The chicken wasn’t great… the pork was good…. I wonder how the veal is….

Other notes:

I must say I loved the portions of the dishes. I’ve always been a meat over carbs kind of person and I was really impressed that there was far more meat than potatoes on the plate. Also, unlike most restaurants, a “single order” isn’t actually a meal for 4.

Service and Atmosphere

 

The service and atmosphere were both pretty good. The food arrived incredibly fast, but the staff didn’t remember to get us water until we were literally done eating. The atmosphere was like a typical bar with the sports channel playing and beers on tap. Of course, since it was midday, it was lacking the excitement.

Overall, this is probably one of the better places for German food. I definitely want to go back and try the Haxe and more sausages.

So, that’s it for this week! I hope everyone has a great week and see everyone soon!

 

Rice Soup: A digestive miracle

Hi! On Thursday I posted about one of the best seafood restaurants in Shanghai (click Here). Well, while the food was AMAZING, the high volume of protein and fiber really pissed my stomach off. Luckily, my mom had the perfect solution: Rice Soup.

Okay, so what makes rice soup so great? According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, it gets rid of the “dampness” that impairs digestion. I don’t know about you, but that’s just confusing. I have my own reasons:

First, it’s natural and will not cause side effects like OTC drugs might. For me personally, meds like TUMS or Peptobismol work, but things tend to get…..backed up. Also, it tastes much better, in my opinion, than meds or other natural remedies, especially the spice based ones. Finally, its helps digestion even when you aren’t feeling icky.

It’s also simple to make:

First, gather the ingredients- rice, jobs tears(the pearly looking things) and water. You can technically make it with just rice (any type works), but adding job’s tears, which have been shown to aid digestion, really gives the “soup” a boost. Since this is not congee, a small handful will be enough. Heat a wok to high and cook the rice and jobs tears until golden brown (10-15min), the reduce heat to low and continue cooking for another 15-20min. Heating the grains supposedly releases nutrients and creates a charcoal- like effect. I have no idea whether this is true or not, but the cooking process gives it a rich, nutty tastse

Finally, add 3-4 liters of water and cook for another 20-30 min or so. The water should be get murky and have a strong nutty aroma. Drink warm for best results.

Okay, Okay…. this remedy is quite a bit more time consuming than TUMs, or ginger tea, but you could easily make large quantities and store.

Whether you believe in TCM or not, trust me, “rice soup” works. Even if I haven’t overeaten, I find it helps reduce bloating and keeps me regular

That’s it for now. I hope everyone has a great week. See you next week!

海至鲜: Seafood at Its best

Hi!! Sorry for the late post. 2 upcomming presentations+science test+ essay due= blogging goes to backburner. Anyways, I finally have some time today, so I thought I’d share one of the most AMAZING seafood places I’ve ever been to, at least in Shanghai.

海至鲜 

海至鲜 is a relatively new and increasingly popular restaurant in the basement of Ding Xiang International Plaza. Its name translates to Fresh from the sea, and boy does it live up to its promise. The seafood is caught from the holding tanks at the front of the restaurant and literally steamed in front of you. For those, like my dad, who aren’t seafood inclined, they offer meats (steamed or grilled) as well as assorted dim sum. Of course, at a place called Fresh from the Sea, prepared to crack some serious shells

Food

Although the menu was only a page, the variety was HUGE. They offered at least 8 types of fish, 10 varieties of clams and more! As much as I would have loved to order everything on the menu, it was only the three of us. Here’s what we got:

Surf clam (garlic), New Zealand mussels, mantis shrimp, Hairy crab,

not pictured: assorted vegetables, assorted mushrooms, congee, beef tongue

One word: FRESH!!!!!

That’s a picture of the waiter “catching” our seafood literally 5 minutes before it arrived at our table/steamer.

While all the seafood good, my favorite had to be the mussels. Coming from Memphis, where seafood comes out from the freezer, and living in Shanghai, where mussels are second class to usually imported (and expensive) oysters, I can’t say I’ve had a good mussel….. until now. These mussels were plump, juicy and had an AMAZING salty fragrance. Even better, the steaming perfectly preserved the natural flavor so each bite was an explosion of juicy flavor.

For most, the seafood flavor isn’t enough, so…. toppings bar!

What I wouldn’t recommend are the meats and dimsum. Boiling meats in hot pot is fine because the broth is flavorful, but steaming it straight just makes it chewy and flavorless.

Service and atmosphere

Overall, the service was very good. The food was cooked in front of us so slow service wasn’t a problem. What the wait staff does do is put the items in the steamer, time it and take it out when its done. The staff were very quick and we barely ever had to wait for them to take it out

The atmosphere was also nice and casual, definitely a great place for a gathering. Upstairs, they have a couple of big rooms for events. Plus, the nature of the menu really rewards sharing. I recommend going with at least 2-3 people to get the best experience. From 6-8pm, it can get quite lively and very full, so I recommend going a bit early

Overall, this restaurant is a must for seafood lovers and I’ll definitely be looking for more excuses to go and test out more of the menu.

That’s it for now; I hope everyone has a great week. Until next time, Bye!

 

 

 

 

Chilling around Shanxi Rd

Hi! Sorry for not posting last week. Junior year is really heating up. Good news: History paper done, Capstone paper done and aced my English paper. Yay! To celebrate, I decided to spend yesterday morning at ShanXi Rd.

 

North ShanXi Road is one of Shanghai’s most historic and beautiful areas; however its not as historic as the bund nor is it a food paradise like XinTianDi. Why did I go there? Well, there are a few spots I’ve been DYING to try: Sumerian Coffee and Light&Salt

Sumerian Coffee

Sumerian Coffee is a busy little spot, a perfect place to study, hangout or chill. My friend recommended it after one of our SAGE meetings, but I never got the chance to go… until now. It was a bit early for lunch, so I stopped in for a cup. Looking at the menu, I was amazed at the variety of coffees. The day was a bit chilly, but I really wanted a cold brew. They had 5 kinds- on tap! I’m no expert on coffee so I went with the cheapest variety- 28RMB (about the same as the small Starbucks but SOOO much better!) Also HIGHLY reccomended are the classic Sumerian Iced Coffee and the variety of the topped bagels. Unfortunately, I had to save stomach for lunch

Light and Salt

After an episode of Masterchef and the rest of my coffee, I was getting hungry. Luckily, the restaurant I’ve been dying to go to was literally less that 50m away. Light&Salt is definitely one of the more upscale restaurants on the brunch scene. Prices are through the roof and I was hesitant, but a sign outside advertised:

Oysters? Only 97RMB? I was going in. As expected, the interior was extremely elegant

…. and so was the menu petite menu. Truffle is the name of the game here. I ordered my oysters. I also wanted the seafood platter, but at 347RMB, not happening…The next best option was scallop crudo with Truffle Sauce.

Let me say, those was some of the BEST oysters and scallops I’ve had in Shangahi. I obviously didn’t get the full experience here, but this is definitely a place to impress a date. Plus, they have very delicious sounding seasonal set menus.

Daliah

 

With every decision comes an opportunity cost(Econ plug!). Mine was not going to Daliah, a highly rated, nominally Austrian, restaurant literally across the street. Their logo is “Food and Fun”. Judging by their slide, swing an pet friendly policy, they’ve lived up to their name. Theoretically, Daliah serves Austrian food, but at least for brunch, it’s more classic American, with some Austrian dishes to pay lip service. I must say, everything looked amazing and I’ll definitely have more info asap.

Well, a couple of scallops and 6 oysters, as delicious as they were, didn’t even dent my appetite, but I only had 30RMB left. So, I wandered for about a block and found a little Xinjiang place with reasonable prices. The food wasn’t great but the yogurt was.

I finished around 1 and decided it was time to go home. Honestly, that was one of  the best Saturdays I’ve ever had. Anyways, I highly recommend everyone stop by Shanxi Rd for some great food and beautiful walks. See you next week!

 

 

 

Oven Roasted Cod with Pumpkin Puree

Hi!!! Break’s over and I’m definitely ready to get back to school. Yesterday, I suddenly realized that despite all the extra time I had, I hadn’t lifted a finger in the kitchen. What’s more, we recently had it remodeled: new countertops, new cabinets, new fridge and an AMAZING new oven. In addition to the normal features like broil and upper/lower rack heating; it also comes with 2 fan settings, grilling and quick heating. I just had to test it out.

What to make? Well, I scrolled through my “recipes that I’ll try when I’m motivated enough not busy” list and found this recipe I came up with last summer- Oven Roasted Cod. It’s fall now, so I decided to pair the cod with a nice pumpkin puree and some brussel sprouts.

 I know the plat isn’t really suited for this dish, but it’s the only thing I have

It’s healthy, simple and DELICIOUS!!! Let’s get cooking!

 

First, the marinade: Roast the tomato and garlic  until garlic is fully cooked. While the tomato and garlic are roasting, rehydrate the dried chilies and/or dried herbs in boiling water. SAVE THE WATER, it’s sooo flavorful and really adds to the marinade. For herbs, I recommend basil and thyme. Throw everything into a blender/food processor and pulse until smooth. Make sure the marinade is cooled, then let the fish sit in overnight. For crispier skin, keep the skin out of the marinade and rub with a bit of baking soda to draw out moisture

 

Veggie time! This is the easiest part of the recipe. Just halve the pumpkin, scoop out the center. Since it is a puree, be sure to clean out as much of the fibers as possible. Sprinkle on a bit of kosher salt and roast skin up. Meanwhile, toss the sprouts in some salt and pepper (I used steak seasoning) and throw them in with the pumpkin for 15-20min. After the pumpkin is very soft, scoop out the meat and puree with a bit more salt to taste. Simple right?!

Finally the fish. Remove filets from marinade and use a paper towel to remove excess water and baking soda. To ensure the most moist meat possible, I wrapped the fish in chives. Garlic sprouts,  banana leaves or even lotus leaves would also work. The chives didn’t hold together very well, so I fixed the bundle with a bit of foil. Then, into the oven. My filets were quite thick, so it took a good 12min at 180C. Cooking times will vary, but better err on the side of more time. To finish off, unwrap and broil until the skin starts bubbling.

Finally, plate serve and enjoy!


Oven Roasted Cod with Pumpkin Puree

For the Marinade

  • 1 very ripe tomato
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic
  • herbs, to taste
  • salt, to taste

For the Fish

  • 2 150-200g cod filets
  • baking soda
  • chives

Veggies

  • 1 small pumpkin (500-750g)
  • salt, to taste
  • Brussel sprouts
  • seasoning, to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C (392F). Set rack to center and roast tomato and garlic for 3-5 min or until garlic is cooked through
  2. Puree until smooth, chill. Marinate fish for 12-24hours. For crispy skin, keep marinade off skin and rub with baking soda
  3. Preheat oven to 200C. Halve pumpkin, scoop out center, sprinkle with salt and roast skin up for 30-40min.
  4. Toss brussel sprouts in seasoning and roast for 15-20min. The sprouts should be slightly browned on top and soft but not burnt
  5. Remove filets from marinade and wipe off excess moisture and baking soda. Wrap in chives and foil. Bake for 8-12min (depends on thickness of filet). Remove from oven and unwrap
  6. Heat oven to broil (or the highest temperature possible) and broil for 3-5 minutes. The skin should be slightly browned and the fat should be rendering.
  7. Remove from oven, Plate, serve and enjoy!

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That’s it! The prep is a bit long, but its TOTALLY worth it. Anyways, that’s it for this week. I’ll try to do more recipe posts in the future. I hope everyone has a great week!