A Foodie's Guide To Shanghai Part 2

Following on from part 1, AP had promised us girls that he would treat us to a special home cooked meal one night, as a declaration of his love for us while also proving he was husband material by showing he knew was around the kitchen and was able to provide for his many wives.
After snapping up some awesome bargains at the underground markets located beneath the Shanghai Science & Technology museum, we then had to accompany the boys to City Shop to get the groceries AP would need. We didn't get home until 8pm. But AP was still determined to cook us dinner, so we waited while our stomachs begged for food and slowly ate themselves from the inside out.


He was clearly within his element here, handling that bottle of red the way a conductor would handle a musical baton, directing and enhancing each element of the bolognaise sauce into an ensemble of complete aromatic harmony.


The symphony climaxed at 11pm. And it was well and truly worth the wait!

Now my work was located in Hongqiao area, which was about 6 metro stops away from my home metro stop at Dapuqiao, so speaking in terms of public transport, it was relatively easy and convenient for me to get to and from work. My fellow interns, who were mostly in marketing and finance, all had fancy centrally-located offices near The Bund or in Pudong. Although it was only 9kms away from my hotel, Hongqiao felt a lot less cramped than Dapuqiao. My office's location right along the busy, multi-laned Middle Ring Road (Hongxu Lu) meant I was less keen to go out during my lunches to explore.
So my first lunch at work was at little restaurant just outside my office.



I'd become used to print out menus ridden with grammatical English translation errors, and mismatching china and cutlery, so I wasn't put off.... until I returned to work after my break and spent the next 3 hours clutching my stomach as it writhed in pain and screamed for release. That day, I would also have my first encounter with a squat toilet. Let's just say it was a pretty packed first day, and 5pm could not come any faster.
The next day, however, I was introduced to the beautiful, life-saving 'Souper Fresh' by one of the architects I was working with.





(side note: I thought this was absolutely adorable! ha!)

I nearly cried from happiness when I discovered this gem. English speaking waitresses and a buffet? That serves fresh veggies?! I was so excited. But fearing I had forgotten the taste of pesto, I went for the pesto chicken wrap (no photographic evidence for I was in the company of 5 other guys and I didn't want to draw any more attention to myself). It was divine. This would quickly become my number one go to for lunch at work, on days I was dressed appropriately and it was safe to walk outside without sweating up a storm.
Most days I went for the soup & salad buffet option, with its array of delicious and refreshingly cool salads.



I did change it up a bit some days though, just to keep things interesting. Towards the end of my month I discovered a great pub that served an enormously generous grilled chicken salad with a mouth-wateringly perfectly charcoal chicken (not sure if this was because my standards were low or if it was seriously just that good!)  
 
...and some times I prepared my own lunches which would normally consist of random left over things I got from City Shop, which included crazy hot chilli peanuts, Carmen's muesli bars or Pocky sticks from the closest family mart store (unfortunately not pictured, but here's a picture of something different!).
 
Grocery shopping (that peanut butter is amazing!)
 Breakfast was one meal I always had at home. Being a breakfast nut, I need to make sure I start my day off with something that is going to put me in the right mood. The ingredients that would make this possible were made up of the following:




A spoonful of quick oats with some AUSSIE SOY MILK (yes it was expensive, no I didn't care it was so good and not vitasoy, and YES it was totally worth it!) with a dollop of strawberry yogurt (can you believe they only had strawberry flavour? Not even plain vanilla!) and a few raisins. Or (what quickly became my favourite brand of) peanut butter cooked in with the oats and milk. Or, as pictured here, a bowlful of yogurt sprinkled with oats, All Bran, and raisins. At this point, I wasn't even looking at nutrition labels or serving sizes, I was just relieved to have brands I recognised and labels I could actually read and understand!

One night, we were exploring the nearby grapevine alleyways of Tianzifang when we stumbled across a great little Vietnamese place. It was about 9:30pm, and we were greeted with such hostility by the front of house waitress we considered finding another place; but the place seemed cute and we were in a group of about 15 which meant good business. We took so long to order, the waitress nearly rolled her eyes into the back of her head. And it took even longer for our meals to come out. Either they were really slow, or punishing us for keeping them open later. In any case, we finally got our orders. Mine was this bowl of shaved mango ice.

I'm not even kidding. It was too hot to eat anything above the temperature of 0. And once it came out, it seemed like everyone wanted a piece of it too.

Realising just how cute Tianzifang was, we set out to return sometime again to see it in the daylight.




It's a definite must-see if you ever make it out to Shanghai. There are a range of cute souvenir shops where you can buy silk scarves, or little Shanghai collectable items; there are also a range of cafes and restaurants, and again, all English speaking as this place is literally crawling with tourists.The locals who do business here know that people have money to spend, and most of them can't be bothered enough to haggle. So if you try, they won't budge; instead they'll wait for the next person to come along who will pay their price. And someone most definitely will.
So we returned to Tianzifang on many occasions. The first time was on a Saturday, in search for a good post-KTV night cure (KTV is karaoke, but you have your own private room, and you drink a lot), when we came across this little number.


Hidden in and amongst the nooks and crannies of Tianzfang is 'Origin Cafe'. Looking in from the outside, it promised a safe haven from the dreadfully humid heat, but like a mirage in the desert, the reality that it was just as hot inside as it was outside set in as we single filed into the cramped restaurant.
We were guided to the upstairs landing which was a much more open space, featuring large industrial windows and exactly one fan to share between the whole 10m2 room it seemed. But all was forgiven and forgotten once I opened the menu.
An endless list of freshly squeezed juices - had I died and gone to heaven? It was like my prayers had finally been answered. All I wanted was something detoxifying so I would stop feeling like a whale.  


In the end we all ended up ordering a fresh juice. My apple, carrot, and celery juice had just the right amount of acidic punch to it to get me fired up and ready to continue my day.


And because I was on such a high from being offered such clean and healthy options, I decided to continue my good streak, and go for the enormous mushroom salad plus a poached egg. It was light and easy to digest, exactly what I needed to put me back into good spirits.

We returned to Tianzifang for lunch the day after; but we brought the boys along this time, so our eyes were peeled for large and fulfilling portions.


A quick glance through the menu and I was sold by the extensive seafood options they offered here at No.37 Dining & Bar. We followed the waiter up a tiny, claustrophobic flight of stairs to the humbly and artfully decorated attic storey, where we were promptly seated and given time to place our orders.


Today, I went for a grapefruit juice to go along with my creamy pesto salmon spaghetti! Yum!
(N.B how cute are the little serviettes they served us with?!)

Although restaurants here were always a bit of a complete hit or complete miss situation, there was one place that we could always count on to deliver, and could never ever disappoint us. That place was 'Haagen-Dasz' - you may have heard of it, as the WHOLE WORLD seems to stock this ice-cream, except for Australia (but we still have Messina and N2 so that's okay). Some days, I would substitute this with a meal because it was so decadent and filling, and would always guarantee satisfaction if nothing else would.

 With parlours on nearly every street corner in the city, and take-away mini tubs stocked at every second Family Mart, they were never hard to find.

 I've become quite used to ice cream and gelato parlours coming up with their own unique flavours and combinations so to have the same options at every outlet became a bit limiting, as I was eager to try new and unique flavours. But nevertheless it is the quality of the ice cream that counts, and Haagen-Dazs was as rich, creamy and smooth as ever. Over the course of month I was there, I made sure to try different flavours each time!

Passionfruit Cheesecake <3

Caramel, Biscuits & Cream, and Tiramisu!

And then on our last day, after Din Tai Fung for lunch, we decided to go a little more extravagant. Opening up one of the menus, I scowered the pages for the most appetising looking dish.
M and L decided to go modest and share this caramel, chocolate and walnut concoction (I can't remember the exact combination unfortunately) while I was drawn to the promise of something refreshingly fruity with the green tea & mango smoothie.



And C had been eyeing off the Chocolate ball for several weeks now. She had promised herself that she would not leave without trying it, and this was her last chance.
The picture made it look small.
But what came out was completely unexpected - to our utter surprise and (ashamedly) delight, the waiter presented to C a bowling-ball sized cocoa-dusted chocolate ball perched upon a gold-leaf rimmed plate.



"Guys, you're going to have to help me eat this," C confessed just as he placed it in front of her.

And then he magically whipped out a white jug from behind and proceeded to pour a warm, rich, gooey, chocolate syrup all over the ball that melted through the thin outer layer and causing the walls to collapse in to reveal a treasure inside.



This was the moment we lost control, and no pictures were taken unfortunately. But from memory, inside were six scoops of decadent cookies n' cream, Belgian chocolate, and vanilla ice cream. It was heavenly.



























And that was the result. Even after downing a smoothie, I couldn't pass up this opportunity. I was well and truly bursting at the seams at this point, but I couldn't have asked for a better way to polish off my trip. I also had dinner and breakfast for the next day all sorted too!

Having always been a foodie with an appetite, I was worried, but also excited about the kinds of food I would get to try out here. Shanghai is well-known for its street-food culture, and if you tend to get those midnight munchies after a night out, then the street-food stalls are like a God-send. I am sad I didn't even take a photo of one of the stalls while I was out; but they are not hard to find. Noodles, corn on the cob, or any type of meat on a skewer - you name it and they'll cook it for you right on the spot!
But for those less adventurous, there are a plethora of Western options and you needn't worry about the language barrier - it seems like a new type of sign language has formed, aiding communication between the Western and Eastern world. A few simple hand gestures and some exaggerated nods/shakes and you'll be fine!
A fantastic city with a vibrant and welcoming atmosphere, Shanghai is on its way to become a world-class city!

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