Hi! Here in Shanghai (and most of America too) AP/IB exams are in full swings and the stress is definitely in the air. Upon finishing the AP Chinese exam yesterday, I recieved my baptismal of fire into the “battlefield” of AP (as my Spanish teacher put it). Now that that is over, I can confidently post. Last Saturday, while my brother was at a debate tournament, my mom decided to take me on a mother-daughter date in Shanghai. We wanted to go someplace like XinTianDi in Puxi, but after considering it was China’s labor day weekend, we decided to avoid the crowd. After some deliberation, we [ironically] agreed to go to Lujiazui- aka Shanghai’s financial center.
As previously stated, Lujiazui is Shanghai’s financial center. Aside from the Bund, it is probably one of Shanghai’s most recognizable sites. Why? Because not only are 90% of the buildings there gleaming skyscrapers, it’s home to Shanghai’s three tallest buildings, the International Finance Center, Shanghai’s only aquarium and most importantly…… The Pearl Tower. On a nationwide holiday like labor day, the best way to describe if would be “人山人海“- literally people mountains, people oceans
What we did
Of course, as somewhat educated citizens, we knew it would be crowded. However, I rationalized that there had to be some interesting and relatively tourist- free small streets. Our plan was just to wander in the opposite direction of the crowd in search for those mythical small streets. We never found those small streets, but there were some highlights:
Kopi Luwak at Meo’s Coffee
For those who don’t know Kopi Luwak is coffee made from partially digested beans found in the feces of a type of Indonesian wild cat called a civet. We had never heard of this place, but after fruitless wandering, Kopi Luwak was definitely a surprise. The shop is a fairly small place just outside the Shanghai World Financial Tower (the 2nd tallest building). The cafe had a very quaint, casual chic feel- I liked it
They offered a fairly wide selection of coffees, teas, but we weren’t interested. We wanted the Kopi Luwak. I ordered an Americano and my mom got a mocha
5 minutes later, the coffee arrived. It was good. Compared to “normal coffee”, kopi luwak tasted richer and darker. I also found it less acidic, although my mom couldn’t tell. Although the coffee was good, they made it really weak so we both felt ripped off. I would not recommend it- good experience though
As a runner, rainy days are public enemy number one. After a week of rainy days, the mere fact that Saturday was sunny was enough to make my “highlights” list. The weather was unbelievably nice. I mean not only was it sunny; it was also warm with a nice breeze. Needless to say, this led to some pretty amazing scenery
Lunch at 潮堂 （chao tang)
By the time we finished our coffee, it was lunchtime. Since we were already near the World Financial Center, we thought we would grab some lunch there. There were some pretty tempting restaurants, including Ding Tai Feng, but we went for 潮堂- A decision I don’t regret.
潮堂 is a Fujianese restaurant. Fujian is a small, mountainous province in southern China. Since its close to both rivers and the sea, seafood is a major part of their cuisine. It’s also relatively light and healthy as Chinese food goes. Since it was only my mom and I, we only ordered three dishes, but all three were AMAZING
Assorted marinated meats: Marinated meats are one of Fujian’s most famous dishes. The word marinated can be a bit misleading though. This isn’t the typical cold cut meat or raw vegetable flash pickled in vinegar, it cuts of meat or tofu gently boiled in a concoction of soysauce and spices until tender and flavorful. Top of the line, Fujian marinated meats are marinated in fresh, mineral rich river water. We wanted to try a bit of everything so the assorted platter was the obvious choice. It came with pig ear, beef tongue, tofu, eggs and goose. One word: DELICIOUS. While these meats weren’t marinated in river water, they were tender, flavorful and not overly salty. The pig ear and tofu were the best.
Wild Vegetable in Congee Water: This is another one of Fujian’s more famous dishes. The vegetables are literally boiled in some stock the starchy water from congee. Again, the congee water is theoretically from the river and thus more flavorful. It doesn’t get more fat free than this. The veggies were very fresh, which the thick congee water complimented wonderfully. However, it was quite bland. Fortunately, there was plenty of juice from the marinated meats and a quick dip sufficed.
Braised Goose with Taro: Admittedly, there wasn’t anything special about this dish. Braised meats like this are pretty common all over southern China. However, it’s flavor was off the charts. It was tender, yet had some bite and rich without being greasy. The taro helped mellow out the flavor and added a surprising depth of flavor. It’s definitely not healthy, but it’s sure delicious
Aside from the great food, the service was also great. The waitresses were attentive and the food came very fast.
After lunch, we were both pretty tired so we went home. What a great day. How was your weekend?