Category: Other

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!

 

 

 

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Best Food Sites

Hi! This week’s been great and not too busy and I have plenty of time to write and eat. However, as much as I love to do both, there are many out there who are WAY better at both than I am. So, here are my favorite Food blogs and sites:

  1. Shanghai Girl Eats

Shanghai Girl Eats is a food blog run by ….. Shanghai Girl. She’s an Asian American currently living in Shanghai who “likes to eat” and “might as well take advantage of Asian metabolism” The blog is a quite exhaustive, very organized, compilation of restaurants in Shanghai along with (more than) a few restaurants in New York, Hong Kong and even Philadelphia. Her posts are honest, well written  and full of AMAZING pictures

URL: http://www.shanghaigirleats.com/

2. Mao Mao Mom Kitchen

MaoMao Mom Kitchen is one of the biggest, most comprehensive and authentic collection of Asian recipes anywhere. I mean BIG- she has literally hundreds of recipes, on the yellow pages and has English and Mandarin versions.  There are also some great western recipes. Unfortunately the site is quite crowded with random ads and doesn’t look too professional to be honest. Regardless, the recipes are totally worth it.

URL: http://maomaomom.com/

3. Chocolate Covered Katie

Chocolate Covered Katie is a healthy food blog featuring desserts run by Katie. The site features hundreds of recipes that turn delicious but not so great foods into equally delicious but much healthier versions. My favorite are her healthy pancakes and actually inspired my Spinach Oatmeal Pancakes. She also shares great personal stories. The site is well organized, colorful and extremely easy to navigate.

URL: http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/

4. Epicurious

For everyone familiar with Allrecipies.com, Epicurious is a step up. This was the site that introduced me to foie gras, truffle and poaching fish. I haven’t been there in a while, but if you’re ready to step up your cooking game, give this site a whirl.

URL: https://www.epicurious.com/

5. Serious Eats

I saved the best for last. Serious Eats is the one stop shop for everything food. It is a comprehensive guide to pretty much every technique, cuisine, city eats……. The team behind the magic is an eclectic mix of professional chefs, restaurant owners, pastry experts and travelers all united by their common love of food. The site is well organized, easy to navigate and updates very frequently. They even have their own podcast- Special Sauce- and cooking courses. Definitely worth checking out!

URL: http://www.seriouseats.com

Those are just my top 5 sites. I hope everyone has a chance to check them out. See you next week!

 

 

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!

 

 

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!

 

CASA Revisited

It’s about noon in Moscow now. Unfortunately, I am not there 😦 My visa got screwed up so that I am not allowed in Russia until the 27th. Instead of risking a layover in a foreign country, my parents and I decided not to go. So, I’ll be posting on something completely different: the CASA team’s investigation of Shanghai.

A few posts ago, I talked about how the CASA team (Mrs. Peng, her husband, eldest son and first employee), with the help of Mr. Du, came to Shanghai to discuss the expansion of their charity (啄木鸟)and restaurant to Shanghai.

Since the dinner, the team had been hard at work investigating locations all over Shanghai- visiting possible locations, talking to owners and really doing their due dilligence

Their vision is to open an accessible but upscale western style pizza restaurant. Naturally, they visited some and even got to see some pros at work

Unfortunately, not everything was so rosy. They immediately ran into two big road blocks: Shanghai’s exorbitant rent and a proper location. Furthermore, in some locations, the managers wouldn’t even talk to them because of their lack of branding. There is certainly a big learning curve doing business in Shanghai, but the CASA team and the rest of us are determined to make it work.

I was not able to join them on their adventures, but I did get to meet with them for dinner before they left. We had a great discussion about their visit and her mission as a charity to help disadvantaged children.

It was great. They’ll be back next month for another investigation. I have full confidence they can make this dream a reality.

Going to Russia!!!!!

Hi!!!! Long time no post. It’s the last day before my Spring Break. Not only that, I’m going to RUSSIA!!!!!

Granted, it’s for MUN, but still, I LOVE RUSSIA!!!!!!

We’ll be staying in St. Petersburg for the conference, then popping over to Moscow. The entire trip is organized by a tour company so we’ll be limited to the typical tourist sites: Kremlin, Winter palace etc. However since I’ve never been to Russia, I can’t complain.

Still, I find the USSR more interesting. If it were up to me, I’d visit places like this:

 (The Lubyanka- NKVD/KGB HQ)

 (Museum of the Great Patriotic War)

 (Central Military Museum)

Anyways, I’ll try to post daily updates about the trip. See you soon!

Dreams do Come True

Hi!!! I hope everyone’s had a great week. Last night, I went to a very special dinner. The dinner itself was good, but it was the purpose of the dinner that mattered. Remember my Taiwan posts? Well, one of the most touching moments of the trip was dining at CASA, a restaurant run by the charity 啄木鸟 (Woodpecker).

 

As we finished gorging ourselves on the AMAZING food, the founder Mrs. Peng told us the story behind the restaurant:

She was running 啄木鸟, a charity group  in the Hualian area that helps local adolescents from disadvantaged minority families learn life and occupational skills. The group already had a fairly successful second hand shop, but she always wanted a restaurant. She faced many difficulties, including having to use her own child’s college fund to start the restaurant, she, an her loyal staff, succeeded.

 (Mrs. Peng)

One of the dads, Mr. Du, was so touched, he proposed on the spot to invest in a branch of the  restaurant and charity. At first, I was skeptical, after all, factors like rent, competition and bureaucratic structures make running a restaurant in Shanghai very difficult at best; however, dreams do come true.

 (Mr. Du with the founders of CASA)

Mrs. Peng, her husband, eldest son and CASA’s first employee came to Shanghai. Last night’s dinner was to discuss plans for the Shanghai branch!

Everyone gave their opinions and ideas about how to ensure the restaurant succeeds. This is just the beginning, but it is the first step in making a dream into a reality.

Update

Hi!!! Long time no post!!! It’s been a pretty hectic three weeks. On the 3rd- 4th was my first MUN Chairing experience, the following week I had 3 finals; that weekend, I took the ACT and finished finals on Wednesday. I’m happy to say I’m done!!!!!114a1ced8e2fffdd218ee9c37b3da7e6

Grades came out yesterday and I’m equally happy to say I snagged a 100 in English, 99 in science, 96 in Spanish and AP World. The only disappointment was math (85), but I still have an A so:

55655919 (That cat looks just like mine)

Anyways, next week, I’m headed to Taiwan so expect some epic food porn when I get back. In the meantime, Happy Holidays!!!!!!!!!

 

Happy (Late) Thanksgiving!

Hi!!! It’s 2 days after Thanksgiving so I hope everyone enjoyed their turkey, pies and family time.

What did my family do? Well, there was a bit of a last minute change of plans. We were going to help host a charity dinner like last year, but the team never got together. So, no turkey. Instead, we decided to go out for dinner and eat some roast suckling pig. After a long search for a decent restaurant, my dad brought us to the Golden Jaguar Buffet.

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The buffet was huge, almost mazelike. There were choices ranging from Hong Kong style marinated meats to mushroom soup to dim sum to, of course, roast suckling pig. There was also Japanese hot pot, habachi and even vietnamese salads. While there were many (too many) choices, the actual quality of the food was mediocre, as can be expected from a buffet. Nevertheless, I still ate WAY too much meat. I found the suckling pig quite disappointing; the actual skin had no seasoning. The servers wouldn’t give me any meat, and by the time my dad did get a hold of some, I was stuffed There were a few standouts: steam pot mushroom soup, grilled fish and papaya salad.

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The atmosphere wasn’t too great either. The place was quite empty. It had neither the intimate feel of an Western elegant restaurant nor the excitement of a good Chinese one. I definitely would not recommend it for small gatherings. It might work for a group of 6-10 though. The highlight of the restaurant was definitely the service. Although it was a buffet, the staff were very helpful and accommodating as well as very prompt at clearing plates. When we left, the entire staff bid us goodbye.

Overall, we had a great time and a very happy Thanksgiving. Let the holidays begin!

 

Delicious Weekend!!!!

Hi!! Sorry for posting so late; it’s almost time for this week’s post. Anyways, quick update: As it turns out, AP world is not as much work as I expected, and neither are my other classes. YAY!!! More time for food!!!! Also, XC season started. Other that that, the week was pretty normal, until Sunday that is. Here’s what’s up:

Business started at 10am. Literally. My mom and I headed out to attend the first meeting for the SAGE (Students for the Advancement of Global Entreupreunership) business competition (read more here). It was at this really cool meeting place near East Nanjing Rd called The Naked Hub

So, after 2 very fast and informative hours, it was  time for lunch. We headed towards the subway stop.  A subway stop is a strange place for lunch right? Not if the stop is adjacent to a 3 story food court. Especially not if that food court has one of China’s most famous Shanghainese dim sum places. Behold: Nan Xiang steamed bun shop

IMG_8371 (I know, not the best pictures)

Nan Xiang Steamed Bun has been dishing out delicious, handmade dim sum, and other delicacies for over a hundred years. In fact, Nan Xiang, a small town near Shanghai, actually invented the juice dumpling. My expectations were high.  It was just my mom and I so we couldn’t order much. The decision was hard, but we made some pretty good choices. Here were the best

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Marinated cucumber- Marinated cucumber is one of the first things I ask for at any decent looking restaurant. So, of course, I ordered it. It was well marinated but a bit too sweet for me. Apparently, that is authentic Shanghainese, so no comment on that.

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Pumpkin Sweet potato balls- Sounds strange right? Strange but delicious. Plus it’s insanely healthy. Just pumpkin, glutinous rice flour and sweet potato, all rolled together and steamed. No sugar, no additives, nothing.

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Shrimp and pork Dumplings- These little guys were a bit of a disappointment, but their taste got them on the list. They had great flavour and texture, but many were deflated 😦 They were still delicious though, just not as good as I expected

IMG_8370

Shepard’s Purse Soup dumplings- of course I saved the best for last. These little morsels of deliciousness were plump and juicy. Basically, fresh shepard’s purse (荠菜)is mixed with cubes of gelatin broth and wrapped in a perfectly elastic skin and steamed for eating pleasure. ORDER THIS!!!!!!

Another highlight of the restaurant was talking to the ladies at the window making the dumplings. They were so nice and actually told me to come back.

…… A few hours later…….

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HOTPOT!!!!!!!

A family friend came to visit so we had to go out. We chose 捞王 in Lianyang Plaza. The restaurant is in a rather obscure corner, behind two other great restaurants, but its location didn’t stop it from being amazing. We ordered the classic mushroom and Chicken broth. PURE DELICIOUSNESS.

About those mushrooms…. the restaurant grows them in house, now that’s fresh.

(The lighting was terrible so sorry, no pics 😦

The delicious broth was accompanied by a myriad of meats, veggies and such. The waiter actually had a hard time fitting all our stuff on the cart. We will definitely be going back

At around 8, and totally stuffed, we dragged ourselves and our food babies back to the house. The end of a delicious day. How was your weekend?