Category: Dining

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!

 

 

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!

 

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!

 

 

 

The Hut at the Kerry

Hi!!! It’s National Holiday here in China,  and I get the entire week off! Well, I still have test prep and some research stuff, but that’s no big deal. Anyways, my mom’s high school classmate living Australia is in China with her daughter for the holidays, so celebration was mandatory! She happened to be staying right by the Kerry and of course I knew just the restaurant to go to.

The Hut

The Hut is one of the newer and more successful restaurants in the Kerry. On a typical weekend, lunch usually requires at least a 30 minute wait and dinner requires a reservation. The restaurant was actually fully booked by the time my dad and I got there, but luckily, my mom arrived early and snagged a spot in a corner- the only unbooked table in the entire restaurant.

Food

What makes The Hut so good? The food of course! It features traditional Huaiyang cuisine with a modern twist and some seriously skilled plating. The food is very soup and seafood/fish focused, but for those who aren’t fans, the place makes some mean meat dishes. I got to order so here were the standout dishes

Smoked Yellow Croaker- This is their one of their signature dishes. Basically, they rub incredibly fresh small yellow croakers with a magic spice blend and smoke it in a magic oven. I used magic twice because magic is the only way to describe this dish. The skin has a slight texture and incredible flavor while the meat is equally flavorful and not only tender, but juicy! The smoking brings out the natural oils in the fish which added an extra, buttery, depth of flavor. Also, the dish comes in single servings, so each person gets their own. No need to share with hungry competitors  friends.

Braised Radish with abalone sauce- This is another signature dish. The Chinese name literally translates to “Beautiful person’s treasure chest”. I don’t know about the beautiful person’s part but it’s sure a treasure chest of flavor. The radish is braised tender, the covered in a thick, rich and extremely umami abalone sauce (also a house specialty). Honestly, I’ve had my share of abalone sauces, but this is by far the thickest and best. Also, the lightness of the radish makes it the perfect compliment to the sauce, leaving the palate clean.

 

Boiled lamb ribs- This is not a huaiyang dish, nor is it a specialty of the restaurant; however, a good restaurant excels in all dishes on the menu. I must say, I was pretty impressed. The lamb itself was tender, not too fatty and actually pretty flavorful, even without spices. The one disappointment was that the menu promised special sauce, but we only got a small thing of hot oil and cumin

Bean curd strips in Shark Fin soup- Bean curd strips in soup (煮干丝)is about as traditional as Zhejiang cuisine gets. Usually, the dish is cooked in chicken or pork stock and includes some crab roe and salted egg. However, The Hut managed to elevate it to a whole new level by using shark fin soup. It was umami through the roof and actually almost matched the radish in amazingness.

Also recommended but not ordered

Shrimp roe stuffed bean curd roll

Eel stuffed crispy pork intestine- don’t judge this one until you’ve tried it.

Orange spiced fire roasted duck

Fish head casserole

Atmosphere and Service

 

The atmosphere was lively but very elegant, which makes it perfect for a special event, receiving friends or even business dinner. It would also be a great place for a date night, but a having a party of only two people really limits the food experience. The service was also fast and great, but the wait staff are a bit slow with the water.

Overall Impression

Overall, The Hut is an AMAZING restaurant. Just be prepared to wait a bit.

So that’s it for this week! I hope everyone, whether on holiday or not, has a great week. See you soon!

 

 

RAW eatery and Wood Grill

Hi! How’s your week been? If its been surprisingly chill, then we have something in common. Last week (I consider Sunday the 7th day of the week)  featured two tests, timed writings and a lab, so this week, we got a bit of a break. Well….. study break= little weekend homework= time to explore and eat!!!!!

Where to go? I was stuck too, until I flipped through a magazine and found a raving review on a restaurant called Raw eatery and Wood Grill. Raw food+ coal oven? Count me in!

RAW Eatery and Wood Grill

 

RAW is a small,chic, upscale bar-style “Spanish” (although far more south American) restaurant. As the name suggests, they’re proud of their raw dishes, which they believe “best preserves the natural beauty of the ingredients”. But, tartare and ceviche aren’t for everyone, so they included a “Wood Grill”- a super high powered Josper charcoal oven where they stick mostly steaks, but also everything from chicken to cauliflower into.

Food

I admit, I was initially disappointed when I saw the small size of the menu

However, that disappointment vanished. Everything sounded so good! I wanted tartare, ceviche, steak, chicken….. but our stomachs and pocketbook has limits. Here’s what we ate:

Bread basket- Each table gets a complimentary bread basket and two flavored butters. For 28RMB, you get 3 more flavors. People online raved about the flavored butters, but since both my dad and I aren’t really bread and butter people, we stuck with the free stuff. The bread was beautifully grilled, but to be honest, nothing special

63 degree Egg- Sous Vide is all the rage now, and the 63 degree egg gets it perfect. The yolk was perfectly soft and the whites were pillowy, not raw. OF course a sous vide egg on its own is hardly a dish. The egg came on a bed of creamy mashed potatoes and AMAZINGLY fresh and juicy mushrooms.

Roasted Cauliflower- This dish is simple and self explanatory- cauliflower roasted in the Josper oven and finished with olive oil and truffle; however, it completely changed how I view cauliflower. The cook was perfect with a bit of char at the ends and had quite a strong truffle taste. I must say though, the seasoning could have been more even. Other than that, it was a perfect appetizer

Anchovy crusted Buratta- If you know me, you’ll know I’m a HUGE sucker for grilled/baked fish. Last night was no exception and I have NO regrets. The filet was 1) HUGE 2) fresh and 3) AMAZINGLY seasoned. The anchovy crust brought an unparalleled depth of flavor that penetrated the entire filet. The dish also came with charred fennel, beautiful baby carrots and roasted heirloom tomatoes. Honestly, the steak lovers have NO CLUE on what their missing out on.


Roasted Argentinean Chicken- Even though fish is my thing, I was really craving something charred and with crispy skin. Half a chicken stuck in a high powered oven should do the trick right? Well…. sort of. The skin was nice and charred but it was soaked in a slightly too salty, although very flavorful au jus like liquid. The chicken itself was incredibly juicy. Unfortunately, the flavoring and spices, for the most part, failed to penetrate into the meat, so it was quite bland. Honestly, even if you’re trying to save money, get a steak instead.

What I wish we tried:

  1.      Tartare with Smoked Egg yolk
  2. Buratta
  3. Icelandic codfish ceviche
  4. STEAK!!!!

Service/ Atmosphere

 

Both were good to say the least. We arrived quite early, so apart from a small group of 4 at the table in front of us, we were alone. Despite this, the place didn’t feel empty or depressed, like some sub-par restaurants do. I absolutely LOVED the simple, chic decor. The wait staff were very attentive and food arrived a lot faster than expected.

Overall Experience

Overall, I highly recommend this restaurant, but to get the most out of dinner, bring some friends over to wine and dine!

That’s it for this week, See everyone soon!

 

 

Dimsum at May Love

Hi!!! Sorry for missing a post last week. Nothing tasty came my way, so I took the week off. Anyways, I knew I had to make this up, and luckily, we just happened to be around Times Square (the one in Shanghai)- opportunity much?

As usual, I wanted Japanese, but before we could find a good quality one, my dad and I stumbled into an alleyway and discovered a Mr.Pancake, Asjen Ramen and:

Suddenly, Dimsum sounded really great.

Food

The great thing about dim sum is that all flavors and textures are represented in small packages, so even with only two people, I had the luxury of ordering some pretty varied items.

Unfortunately, however, the restaurant was out of roasts, as well as many stir fried dishes 😦 I was really craving some crackling. The good news: all the steamed items were available. Here’s what I ordered:

Har Gao- I literally order har gao at every dim sum restaurant I go to, so how did these compare? Well, they were average. They had an intense flavor and nice skin, but the shrimp could have been more fresh and they needed a fresh element- like bamboo shoots or water chestnut- to balance the seafood taste.

Fish and water chestnut dumplings- I love fish dumplings, so I had high very high expectations for this one. For the most part, I wasn’t disappointed. The fish was fresh and had an amazing springy texture. The water chestnut was bright and sweet, which perfectly complemented the fish. However, the wait staff must have left it out a bit too long because they were a bit cold and sticky

 (sry for the bad pic, I was so excited to dig in)

Truffle-spiced mushroom dumplings- This was definitely my favorite item. The skin was thin and springy, but the filling is the bomb! First, I could actually taste the truffle. I’m no expert, but those dumplings were sooo aromatic. Second, the mushrooms were bathed in an amazing, thick soup, which prevented the filling from being dry/ rubbery. ORDER THIS

Beef balls with tofu skin- I must say, this dish was the lowlight if the dinner. The meat itself was quite good and not too fatty and had a nice texture, but the balls were flavorless. Not worth it.

 

The restaurant offers a promotion where for ever 100RMB spent on stir-fried dishes, there is a 20RMB discount. It’s a pretty good deal to take advantage of if you’re with a group. Unfortunately, my dad fell for it and ordered an extra dish no one touched

Overall, the food was very good, but the flavors all melted together. I would probably suggest varying the types of dishes to prevent the law of diminishing marginal returns from kicking in too soon.

Service

The service was fairly quick and good. The wait staff were attentive and obliging. My biggest complain would be that some of the menu items- ie all the roasts and poultry dishes- were unavailable. Honestly, going at an earlier time should resolve that issue

Atmosphere

 

The restaurant had a nice and casual, cafe-like atmosphere. I especially liked the couches and giant screen playing an old concert rerun from Hong Kong singer 邓子琪. However, it was a bit disorganized and dirty plates were often stacked next to the water jugs before being bussed away.

Overall Experience

Overall, I enjoyed the food, atmosphere and service. There could be some improvements, but I would recommend this place as a brunch or causal hangout dinner with friends.

So, that’s it for this week. I’ll have another dining experience to share next week, so see you then!