Month: October 2017

Saturday shopping: a trip to Shanghai‘s Pearl market 

Saturday shopping: a trip to Shanghai‘s Pearl market 

Yesterday Ellie and I had a major shopping day. The plan was to hit Hongqiao International Pearl City aka the Pearl Market, then head to the fabric market and finish with a quick stop at the trimming market. The first order of business was of course brunch to get our strength up before this big undertaking. We went to Odelice and had yummy French food consisting of galette, croissant, crepes and waffles.

The Pearl Market is a big 3 story building in Hongqiao and a great place to buy all sorts of things. On the first and third story they sell souvenirs, bags, clothes, shoes, movies, belts, sunglasses, phone cases, paintings, rugs … and also have a few tailors. We mostly wandered around on the second floor where they have many many jewelry stores which mostly sell any kind of pearls imaginable. You can also get jade and some other jewels but the main attraction is the pearls.

The Fabric Market, where we have been going to get tailor made clothes (shirts, pants, jeans, coats, dresses), deserves its own post. We need to to a little photo shoot of all the stuff we already got. This time I picked up pants and jeans and ordered another pair of jeans and 2 dresses 🙂

Our last stop was the Yu Gardens Trims & Accessories Market where Ellie wanted to buy some trims for a dress she had tailored at the fabric market. It’s a cool place that sells any kind of button and bead you can think of, trims, shoelaces, ropes, tape … I didn’t buy anything but it’s fun to just walk around and look.

Eating out in Shanghai – Part III 

Eating out in Shanghai – Part III 

The rate at which we try new restaurants has slowed down a bit, because we have started to revisit some and are often pretty lazy during the week and get food delivered. Have I mentioned that I love Sherpas? 🙂 So here is part III of the Shanghai restaurant review with 10 more places we or I have recently eaten at.

Taste & See – Australian 

Taste & See describe themselves as a Melbourne Bistro. I went here with some colleagues and we ordered a good variety: avocado and quinoa salad, a smoked salmon appetizer, 2 seafood dishes and lamb. All the food looked beautiful and was very tasty (I didn’t try the lamb so I can’t judge that). Especially the seafood rice was yummy. They just reopened so the location looks nice and the service was pretty good as well.

Black Pepper – Turkish 

I had a work dinner after an all day workshop at Black Pepper. Work dinners usually mean a fixed menu with lots of choices. I’m not a huge fan of Turkish food but everything was pretty good. I liked the appetizers we had, especially the dips and fried vegetable patties. The chicken from the main course was also nice and the dessert was okay, nothing too exciting. The location is cool and they have a nice terrace upstairs, but I’m not sure I’ll come back – too many other nice places to try in Shanghai 🙂

Hai by GOGA – North American 

This was another work dinner and I sat across my bosses boss, so I didn’t take any pictures. We again got a good variety of food. We had tuna, scallops, a salad with salmon, lamb, rib eye … Everything was really good. My highlight was the dessert, a super rich chocolate mousse with some crunchy stuff on the bottom. The location is a bit hard to find, you have to go around the back of the building and enter through a hotel. The restaurant is on the 7th floor and from the terrace you overlook the French Concession, so it might also be a good spot for some drinks.

Long time ago – Barbecue

As you can see in the pictures, you barbecue your own food at the table here. It’s a cool system: you just place the skewers in the openings and the little chain which runs around the grill turns them automatically. After watching you food being cooked you then eat it dipped in a spice mix and chili sauce. Their specialty is lamb, which was pretty good and we also had chicken wings, sausage, mushrooms wrapped in bacon and kidneys which I did NOT eat those after the lung disaster. On the side we got some eggplant, salad, cold noodle soup (like the one we tried in Seoul), and peanuts in a vinegar sauce, which I really liked. Overall, the food didn’t blow me away but it’s a fun experience and I think a good winter activity with friends – the grill really keeps you warm.

Ganesha – Indian

This place got introduced to us as the best money for value Indian food in Shanghai. While I’ve had better Indian food, it was good and you definitely can’t beat their prices: We were 4 people and had pappadoms (lentil wafers), 4 main dishes, 3 different types of naan, rice, juice and beer and each paid just under 10 Euros. The mains we got were Mutton Keema, Chicken Korma, Paneer Makhani (Cheese) and Baingan Bhantha (eggplant). It’s inside a mall and the restaurant is pretty basic and not too cozy but if you are looking for some cheap, quick Indian food, this is the place.

Cobra Lily – Southeast Asian

Cobra Lily is in Xintiandi, a nice little area with brick houses, trees and lots of restaurants. So it wasn’t really a surprise that it was pretty expensive there. We had a nice dinner with a good mix of dishes: A mint and fried goat cheese salad, beef tartare, prawn cake spring rolls and smoked pork neck with rice noodles. I had to surrender after a few bites of the goat cheese mint salad, it was very good but super spicy. My favorite dish was the beef tartare. They had some pretty interesting sounding desserts so of course we had to get some 🙂 Thorben had green tea meringue with dark chocolate dried plum ganache and coffee ice cream (except for the chocolate-plum not my thing at all but he really liked it) and I had chamomile pannacotta with frozen white chocolate mousse and berry sorbet – yum!

Tribe – Healthy

The outside sitting is nice and so are the juices and smoothie. The food is a bit too much on the “gluten-free, sugar-free, vegan, raw and super healthy” side for me. It’s not that I don’t like healthy or vegan food in general, it’s a nice change to all the meat and oil sometimes. My smoothie bowl looked pretty and the granola and fruit in there were good but once I ate the toppings, the dragonfruit with quinoa was just very bland. Thorben also wasn’t the biggest fan of his “Organic Breakfast for Champions”. We’ve gone back once in the afternoon to just have a juice and some snacks: The marbled “Cheesecake” and some Almond-Parmesan Crisps. Again it was okay, but nothing to rave about.

Loop & Carbon, Love Only One Person – Japanese

I couldn’t find the restaurant online but I swear that’s what it said on the sign 🙂 We went there with Pearl, Shane and 2 of her friends after an intense hour at Jump360. Shane’s friend got a groupon so we had a big menu with lots of different food for around 15 Euros each. I think I missed 3 dishes in the pictures and also the dessert (ice cream). I liked their sushi and tempura shrimp and most of the other things we ate, but I didn’t try the beef tongue 🙂

Funkadeli – Italian

Funkadeli is in a little restaurant area close to where we live and I finally tried it when I met a friend of a friend for the first time. She is Italian and suggested it, so that was already a good sign 🙂 The have a good happy hour and we had some appetizers first: Spanish tortilla, mozzarella, tomatoes and pine nuts and some smoked salmon – all good. We also had a pizza that was really delicious. As dessert I tried the “chocolate salami” just because it sounded funny. It’s chocolate with biscuit and nuts. It was alright but according to the Italian expert a bit too sweet and not enough nuts and biscuit. I’ll definitely go back because the location is cool and prices are super reasonable (pizza is only half of what it costs at Gemma!). They also do brunch so we might go there this weekend.

The Refinery – American 

Another Xintiandi restaurant, in the middle of Taicang Road, with lots of awesome outdoor seating. I loved the atmosphere and would just go back for that but the food unfortunately didn’t blow us away. Thorben rated it 6/10. The menu is big and I had spinach and artichoke dip and fish and chips and Thorben had avocado and salmon tartar and a grilled salmon dish. Nothing really stood out and the mocktails were way too sweet but we still had a very nice evening sitting outside and watching the city lights.

Random Facts: Scaffolding in Shanghai

Random Facts: Scaffolding in Shanghai

I love the way the scaffolding looks here: it’s made out of bamboo. I’ve seen it used for both smaller buildings and high-rises. I guess it makes more sense to use bamboo since its a renewable resource and maybe also cheaper?

An Epic scone bake off 

An Epic scone bake off 

On Saturday Ellie and I had a little scone baking competition in our kitchen. I had mentioned a few weeks ago that I’d just gotten an awesome scone recipe from my colleague in Germany who is from the UK, which prompted Ellie (also from the UK) to state that they could never be better than hers. So the scone-off was born.

In preparation I tried out the recipe a couple of weeks ago, both the sweet and savory version (with cheddar cheese). I thought they turned out awesome, so I was feeling pretty good about it.

Baking was a really international affair: First, it was an English-German competition in China and for the ingredients we had flour from France, sugar and salt from China, baking powder and milk from Germany, butter from New Zealand and cheddar cheese from the US. We even managed to track down clotted cream at Cityshop – a real deal for only 6 Euro, usually it costs 9 😉 The price of some imported goods is a bit crazy but in that case it was so worth it. In combination with my mom’s homemade jam it was delicious.

Shane, Pearl and Thorben got to try all of the goodies but in the end there wasn’t really a clear winner because I had made cheesy scones and Ellie the original kind which was hard to compare. Also, our jury wasn’t really helpful so I guess it was a tie. In the end we had fun baking and all got to eat lots and lots of scones, so I’d say we all won.

It was great to finally use the kitchen and the oven and wear the “Baking Queen” apron my awesome colleague made for me with her kids 🙂 Hopefully more baking will happen soon.

Golden Week Travels Part 2: Taipei

Golden Week Travels Part 2: Taipei

After a few days in Hong Kong we flew to Taipei on Wednesday. Even though it was only a 2 hour flight they had a huge plane (we sat in row 71) with a full entertainment system, drinks and a meal. You could even check 2 pieces of luggage for free. I finally managed to watch “A dog’s purpose”, so sad yet so adorable 🙂

I also didn’t have to plan anything for Taipei because we were spent our entire time there with Jana, one of my high school BFFs 🙂 She picked us up from the airport and we had hot pot together the first night. The spicy compartment of the soup came with free tofu and duck blood – we skipped the second one.

Day 1 in Taipei – Sights, the “Modern Toilet”and Maokong

The first point on our agenda in Thursday was the Liberty Square and the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. The square is really pretty and we got super lucky with the weather even though the forecast kept saying rain. Next, we went to the city center and walked around in the Ximen Red House. They had a lot of art stores and cool things to look at and we ended up in a little store selling tea. The vendor was really nice and we tried a bunch of different teas he prepared for us. Jana had seen something on TV about crazy restaurants around the world and one of them, the “Modern Toilet”, was right around the corner so of course we checked it out. Though the food wasn’t something I’d go back for it was definitely an experience dining on a toilet with lots of toilet themed plates and drinks ;).

In the afternoon we took a cable car from the Taipei Zoo station to Maokong, a small village outside of the city. It’s a nice, maybe 20 minute ride overlooking Taipei and lots of green hills. In Maokong we walked around a bit and then hung out in a tea house and watched the sky turn dark. There are lots of night markets in Taipei, so we got some food at a small one close to our hotel.

Day 2 in Taipei – More Sights, Tea Time, Elephant Mountain and lots of Socks

We started the next day with some sightseeing as well and visited the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall. The next stop was the Songshan Culture & Creative Park where we spent most of the time drinking tea in a cozy bookstore/cafe. After walking around some we headed over to Taipei 101 and had a late lunch at Din Tai Fung. It’s a super popluar place to get Xiaolongbao (soup dumplings) and is from Taiwan, so we thought we should try it at the source – tastes the same as in Shanghai 🙂 Jana and I also got chocolate xiaolongbao for the first time, whoever came up with those is a genius.

To get the famous view of Taipei 101 we hiked up Elephant mountain, or at least a part of it. It’s only around 20 minutes but all stairs plus heat, humidity and mosquitos so it was a short but brutal hike. We left a little late and I’m not the fastest hiker so I didn’t quite catch the sunset but the view was still great and the storm clowds rolling in looked pretty cool. As a reward Jana and I went to another night market for some greasy snacks and I bought lots of awesome socks. I’m not ashamed to admit it: 16 pairs to be exact 🙂

Day 3 in Taipei: Expo Park, Art, Dogs and Cats and Tamsui

On Saturday we headed to the Expo park and walked around the farmers market they had. We saw lots of people with dogs, most of them in little strollers. According to Jana that’s totally normal in Taiwan. I was too busy staring to take a picture though. Right next to the expo park is the Museum of Fine Arts and it’s free to go so we went to see the exhibit and had some fun with it.

After so much culture we decided to visit a cat and dog cafe. One dog wasn’t really interested in snuggles and the other one had a collar that said “Don’t too close to me I will attack your face.” Well then … He however seemed to like belly rubs. Our last stop was Tamsui, the end of one of the metro lines, where you can walk along the water and there are tons of little stands and shops. Here, I had to finally try the famous pineapple cake.

During our travel back home we could tell a bit that it was Golden Week. It seemed like everyone at the airport was trying to get back to China so we spend almost 2 hours in various lines. Back in Shanghai on Saturday afternoon it was fine to get home on the metro. So overall I’m definitely booking more travel during holidays.