Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Shanghai Foodgalore (Or The Misadventures of The Chinese Looking Guy That Speaks No Chinese)

Stranded in a city where you don't speak the language but having the face looking like the locals is one hilarious torture. Things like random people on the MRT asking directions to me in Chinese and when I answered them in English, they return it with a confused and demeaning look that almost like saying "Whoa! So you're so effin cool that you only speak English? Where's your nationalism?" Seriously, I laugh at each of my encounters with the local chineses. 

However, let's put that aside for now, and allow me take you to the place where the foodventure began, Chinese Fast Food. Bump into this place halfway back from Shanghai Expo, just above Long Yang Road station to be exact, and found a long queue waiting. A good sign this should be. So I got into the line only to find myself blank for a minute when the waiter ask me "ni yao che she me?" (what do you want to eat?). For the complete sixty seconds only one thought ran across my head and sadly that is the voice of my mom mocking "I told you so many times to go and take that Chinese lesson. See? Now you've found out for yourself how important it is."

But I have no time for that, and so I used my final ammunition, the ever-so-effective-universal-language in traveling : body language! I took out my hands, stare at the waitress eyes, slowly made a one and a nine with my fingers. Good thing the waitress understood! HA! And that has granted me this:

On the left is the slow-cooked pork with what i assume was pig-innards mixed in sweet-salty soy sauce. I found this quite flat, none of the spices stood out and some of the meats were too stiff and unchewable. The other menu in contrary was awesome! A good blend of tofu, chicken broth, and eggs cooked with enough heat that resulted in a semi-moist texture that slowly diffuse once it reaches your tongue. I tasted a reasonable amount of saltiness and the good good aroma of fresh eggs. A delight. I've never met this in any chinese resto in Indonesia, so yeah, I think I'm gonna miss this. 

Off to the second spot was this resto near Holiday Inn Downtown, a medium-sized fast food with the face of an oldman as the logo. Tell you the truth, I decided to eat here because of him. He gave me a sense of security that their food gotta be good and luckily I was right. =)

The chicken rice with traditional mushroom was a feast in the midst of winter. Just swallowing that first freshly cooked rice and chicken leave a warm feeling in my belly. I feel home in instant, but transported back to reality when I look around and I couldn't find any chili sauce nearby. WHAT?! I tried complaining to the old man a.k.a Mr Lee but he just stared back at me with a smile from the corner of my plate. Oh well, on the plus side, at least their chopsticks were super hygiene (look at the chopstick-washer-machine!).  

Fed up with Chinese food, on the next day I went out for a little variety, and nothing was as exciting as seeing the Golden Arch sign just a couple block from the hotel. YAY! Finally, twentieth-century-food! I was so pumped to try for the first time in my life, McDonald's burgers-with-pork which I could never find in Indonesia. But all that hype just fade away when I stood in front of the counter and remember once again that I couldn't read any of those letters in the menu. DAMN! I should've at least learn how to say 'pork' before flying off here. Once again, body language to the rescue! But how am I suppose to explain 'pig' ? Make a groook-ing sound with my mouth? I ran out of choices, so I took a good look at each of the photos, made my wild guess and took away the burger back to hotel. Another surprise when I opened the paperbag and pull out the burger, the wrapping says Chicken Burger. --" There goes my one and only chance.

Noting the taste, it was one juicy-meaty slice of boneless chicken, the grilled soy sauce let out one tasty scent in favor of my Asian tongue. It was gooood for something coming out of McDonald's menu.

The day after, finished with all the business work, I get to visit this beautiful Yi Yuan garden, one of Shanghai's must-visit landmark, complete with it's shopping alleys that reminds me of Singapore's Bugis Junction. Here I finally found one of Shanghai's authentic hawker food, its the famous Xiao Long Pao. But unlike the normal ones, this one you have to sip it from a straw. And OH MY! It was one heavenly sip. Almost feels like sipping a concentrate of all the goodness (read: fat) of pork in one tasty juice. I recommend this! A must try! See how orgasmic I was while sipping it. =p

Right after that, I went for a quick lunch at this huge foodcourt inside the garden. I rather not talk about it though. I can't believe such beautiful looking foods can taste that disappointing. Awful. Scooch over.

It was quite late after the stroll around the garden. My feet and back are tired from walking, and on my way back my nose traced a very buttery smell coming right from a small shop. I didn't jot down the name of the street. But here's what my nose led me to. Freshly baked portuguese-style tartlettes coming right out of the oven. Its the sweet that I've been craving for. A perfect bite size snack for the afternoon. I can still recall the buttery smell arousing my nose, the hot sweet filling splendoring my tongue, and the crunchy feeling when I took the bite. YUM!

A fine dessert closed my walk that day and closed my stroll around Shanghai. And this Chinese-looking guy that can't speak Chinese has finally made his way around the city and survived with a grin on his face. My overall opinion, the food here are rather flat. It doesn't go to the extreme when it comes to flavor. Slight saltyness, slight sweetness, not spicy at all, and good luck finding chili sauce that complement the food. However, I find this as an enjoyable variety filler, a fling from tons of Indonesian food that I tasted daily in Jakarta. Above all, it was fun, and nothing beats a fun adventure.

Until our next foodventure.

Smile on, shine on. (and stay away from pork),

Chinese-looking Guy

Twitter: @captainruby


  1. I want that xiao long bao please... your post really makes me drool haha.. salam kenal :)

  2. Salam kenal sheilla =)

    Fly me to shanghai, I'll get you another xiao long bao. Hehe

  3. ok ksh gw tu xiao long pao, soalnya gw ga mungkin ke china hgauhaua
    hmm.. how to say babi in mandarin.. just said" chu..!!!" klo msh ga ngerti juga bahasa universal kluar idung di tahan pake jari trus keluarkan bunyi2an ngroookkk ngroookkk gitu huahaua

  4. are those egg tarts? :D the desserts, I mean. lol

  5. Hai, gue cmn bs bilang kykny gue sedih liat postinganny lu yng ini.. i think you should research more before you go to shanghai! Because there are lot's of yummy food out there! Gue dri shanghai soalny.. And ud 1,5 tahun blajar bahasa mand! & I feel you! First time gue jg mengalami difficult language.. Gue jg pake body language..

    1. Dear Anonymous, yeah I know I should've done more research. The fact is it was a business trip and a quick one. Less than 4 days. Its the most I could scrape in my free time. Masih di Shanghai? Gue mampir lagi deh, lo tour guide -in yah? HAHA.

    2. Aduhhhh too bad gue ngak di shanghai lge.. Tapi I case klo Lu ke shanghai lge, gue bkal kse tau Lu! Mkanan ap aj yng enak.. Even kayakny musti sebulan disitu.. Hahaha.. Uhmmm bs kontekny lewat Facebook boleh;


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