Category: Food

Birthday celebrations

Birthday celebrations

Saturday was the most important day of the year – my birthday – and it was the first one we celebrated in Shanghai. The day was mostly about food, surprise, surprise πŸ˜‰

Presents and Brunch

My family sent a huge box of goodies for my birthday, including 4.5 kilos of chocolate – or that’s what the customs note said. Somehow Thorben managed to hide it from me for 2 weeks so it was quite the surprise. I also got 2 awesome paintings, which I’d been admiring at a gallery on our street. After presents we had brunch at Bull & Claw, my favorite brunch place. Or one of my favorites, it’s hard to pick in Shanghai. We brunched so much I had to take a nap after we got back πŸ™‚

A Shanghainese Dinner

In the evening, we had a little dinner party with Shane, Morgane, Leyfa and Thorben’s parents, who arrived on Friday. Thorben hired a Chinese Chef through the app “ε₯½εŽ¨εΈˆ” (good chef). He came to our house with all the ingredients and didn’t stop cooking for over 4 hours. Most of the food was Shanghainese, so it was good Shane was there to explain them to us. It was quite a feast, I think we had 16 different dishes, I didn’t manage to take pictures of each one. But no matter how much you eat, at the end there’s always room for a slice of cake. Or two πŸ™‚

Thanks for all the birthday messages, calls, presents and of course thank you to my party guests for celebrating with me! Turning 28 wasn’t so bad I guess πŸ™‚

Shanghai Restaurant Week: We came, saw and ate

Shanghai Restaurant Week: We came, saw and ate

The last 10 days were all about food. Not that that’s so unusual for us but this time it was because of my new favorite event: It was Restaurant Week in Shanghai! Restaurant Week is a worldwide event that happens twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall. For China Restaurant Week, hosted by DiningCity, Shanghai is 1 of 5 cities that participates. When it happened in the fall we were traveling, so I decided to fully take advantage this time.

For the 12th China Restaurant Week there were hundreds of restaurants all over Shanghai to choose from. They each offer special lunch and dinner menus, usually with 3 courses, at discounted prices:

  • Category C: Lunch for 68 RMB / Dinner for 108 RMB
  • Category B: Lunch for 108 RMB / Dinner for 188 RMB
  • Category A: Lunch for 138 RMB / Dinner for 278 RMB

It was a really good excuse to try out a bunch of new places. I was pretty ambitious and went to 9 restaurants, so I only missed 2 days where I had other plans. Here is a little picture review, sometimes I was too preoccupied eating that I only managed to take pictures of an appetizer and dessert πŸ™‚

Those are the places with my rating, or a combined rating with Thorben, of the dinners (and lunch at Wolfgang Puck).

  • Maya – Mexican: 3/5
  • Garlic – Turkish: 4.5/5
  • Wolfgang Puck – Bar & Grill: 3.5/5
  • Lychee – Asian Fusion: 3.5/5
  • The Beach House – Seafood: 4/5
  • Tomatito – Spanish: 3.75/5
  • Pasha – Turkish: 4/5
  • Tiacassia – European/Cheese: 4.5/5

Yesterday, for the last night of restaurant week, Shane and I went to “The Fellas”, an Italian restaurant at the Bund. The food was really good, I’d give it a 4.5, but the view was even better.

The next Foodie event done by DiningCity will be the China Brunch Weekend from June 29 – July 8. I can’t wait! πŸ™‚

Tokyo: The Food Edition

Tokyo: The Food Edition

Here is the run down on all our Tokyo food experiences:

Sushi

We started and ended our trip with sushi. On our first day we headed over to “Umegaoka Sushi No Midori”, which was highly recommended online. The place was really popular, even on a Thursday at 2:30 pm we had to wait for 45 minutes to get a table. The sushi was very pretty and yummy though πŸ™‚

On our last day we went to Sushizanmai, a big, popular chain. At 10:30 am we already had the first sushi in front of us, no wait on a Monday morning πŸ™‚ The place was pretty empty, so we sat at the counter and watched the masters work.

Making our own Sushi

Another Airbnb experience: a sushi class with a Japanese sushi master. We met Nori and 2 other participants at a grocery store where he showed us all the necessary stuff to make sushi. We then went to his apartment and made nigiri and maki sushi. He was really strict about the technique – a real sushi master has to train for 8 years after all – and made us practice on playdough first πŸ™‚ I didn’t take many pictures because of fishy hands but thankfully our host was on it πŸ™‚

Tsukiji Fish Market Food Tour

The Tsukiji Fish Market will be relocated in October so we were lucky we still got the see the old building and craziness happening inside. I booked a tour through Ninja Food Tours that included lots of tastings and it was really fun! First we had a chicken, egg and rice dish and then really started the tour. The market also has a big wholesale vegetable and fruit portion and we had some yummy strawberries there. Pretty fruit is considered a nice gift but we passed on the 50 USD cherry box and 60 USD mango πŸ˜‰

We also checked out all the crazy fish and sea food of the inner market and then had ate at the outer market. The place is huge and busy so I’m really glad we went with a guide who knew what he was doing. We had sweet omelette on a stick as a palate cleanser, then an amazing tuna bowls, pork dumplings, some matcha drinks, tried some dried fish candies and finally had a mochi strawberry dessert.

Kobe Beef

For Thorben’s Birthday we went to a kobe beef restaurant and indulged in a dinner with 8 courses, 7 of which included beef. We ate it grilled, baked, fried, marinated, raw, inside a dumpling … It was delicious πŸ™‚

Eating out in Shanghai – Dessert Edition

Eating out in Shanghai – Dessert Edition

Since I got back from Germany I’ve mostly been hibernating in our apartment and eating chocolate while watching Grey’s Anatomy. This post has just been sitting there as a draft for a while , so I thought it might be time to post it while I dream of sunnier days when I went out for ice cream a lot πŸ™‚ Also, I’m still trying to convince some people to visit here, maybe these pictures will help?

Disclaimer: Of course you can get dessert at most restaurants but this post is dedicated to the little stalls and places that just sell delicious dessert.

Japanese waffle shaped like fish with filling

I went here with Verion before his farewell dinner, because obviously it’s always a great idea to get dessert before dinner. The stand sells waffles which are shaped like fish and have different fillings in them. I learned they are from Japan and are called Taiyaki. I got banana custard and it was really good. Unfortunately I don’t know what the booth was called but it’s inside the Shanghai Metro City mall.

Beard Papa’s

Pearl showed us this place which sells yummy cream puffs. I got a cookie puff filled with custard and it was delicious – not too sweet and with a very rich, vanilla cream.

Gracie’s Ice Cream

The ice cream is pretty expensive (6.50 € for 2 scoops or 11.50 € for a pint to take home), but it is so so good. They have some interesting flavors like Balsamic Strawberry & Buttermilk, Black Sesame & Honey or London Fog (Earl Grey). My favorites are Half Baked Cookie Dough and Malt, Sea Salt & Dark Chocolate, though Mango Coconut and Passion Fruit are also delicious. We also got a reward card so I can justify going more. And the best thing is that you can also get the pints delivered from Sherpa’s. Guess what’s in our freezer :).

Buco

Buco is a tiny, hole-in-the-wall ice cream place, right next to Gemma’s, an Italian restaurant. It got recommended to us a few times, usually when I raved about how great Gracie’s is. When we finally tried it I was a bit disappointed. My pistachio ice cream was really good and creamy but Thorben’s fig and blueberry were pretty watery. So I will keep telling everyone that Gracie’s is the best.

Pantry’s best

I went here with Ellie after drooling over the cupcakes during a previous visit. They all look so beautiful but I was kind of scared they would just taste like pure sugar. I was very pleasantly surprised. The red velvet one I got was moist with a rich cream cheese frosting and not overly sweet. Success! Ellie also liked her raspberry red velvet one though it didn’t taste like raspberry. We were too busy inhaling them to take close up pictures πŸ™‚

Beesket

This is a juice place so more of a dessert after dessert kind of place (unless your name is Thorben and you count fruit as dessert). I still wanted to include it because I think it’s cool. You take a little container and can choose 3 fruits, stick them in there and then you can watch them make the juice according to your specifications.

Lillian Bakery

I think we talked about their egg tarts before but Lillian definitely deserves to be mentioned again. The only thing I’ve tried from them are the egg tarts and they are delicious: a crispy, flaky, buttery crust combined with a rich cream filling that tastes like crema catalana or creme brΓ»lΓ©e. They have a little stand in our metro station and I may or may not have eaten 4 of those for dinner once πŸ™‚

Awfully chocolate

This dessert chain is devoted to chocolate 100%. Cakes, pies, cupcakes, brownies, truffles, white chocolate creme brΓ»lΓ©e … Everything was yummy and super rich and just awfully chocolatey πŸ˜‰ I couldn’t eat all the ganache on my cupcake and had to admit defeat. If you are really in the mood for lots of chocolate this is definitely a good place!

2017 – A Year in Review

2017 – A Year in Review

2017, it’s been a crazy year.

January

Our China adventure started in January with a look and see trip to Shanghai. We spent 5 days and half the time I thought Thorben was crazy for wanting to move here. I got used to the idea when we visited Jing’An, the Bund and Xintiandi and our relocation agent showed me where to get Nutella and cheese πŸ˜‰

February

In February we started our preparation with an intercultural seminar followed by a 2 week intensive language class, which made my brain hurt and showed me how difficult learning Chinese is. While Thorben got over this traumatic experience and started studying again towards the end of the year I still haven’t recovered quite yet πŸ˜‰ I also got my job offer and started the visa process.

March

My host sister got married in California and I was happy to be part of the wedding as a bridesmaid. We also used the time to visit San Diego, Joshua Tree National Park and spent time with my American family in Ventura.

April

Thorben turned 30 in April and we took the chance to celebrate both his birthday and a farewell party. We also packed all our stuff into 25 boxes, handed over the key to our apartment and I dropped him off at the airport at the end of the month.

May

While Thorben was busy starting this blog, a new job, exploring China and finding us an apartment, I spent the month saying good bye to family and friends. I also took a trip to Budapest and celebrated my birthday winning at mini golf before hopping on a plane to Shanghai.

June

During my first week in Shanghai I met Pearl and we visited Zhujiajiao together.Β  We also received our air freight, which helped us settle into our new apartment. Thorben went to Japan with his coworkers while I discovered the avocado lady and spent a day exploring the city with Shane.

July

In July it was a bit rainy at times so we had fun playing board games and making travel plans. I also visited some touristy places as a friend from university was in town. Thorben went on his first business trip to Germany and we saw “Sleep no More” which he loved and I hated. We also faced some crazy temperatures – above 40! – but that didn’t keep us from trying lots of different restaurants and seeing the Lion King in Chinese.

August

During the summer we went to quite a few brunches and also cooked for the first time, not at our home but someone else at a home-style cooking class. In August we also met Ellie (at a brunch) and had some adventures with her and Pearl at a murder mystery dinner and trying to eat lung. At the end of the month Thorben and I took our first trip out of the country together and spent a long weekend in Seoul.

September

September was a mix between food and culture: I tried hot pot for the first time, we went to see the musical Sister Act. I hoarded cheese after hearing of a coming ban while Thorben took some pretty pictures at night. During our trip to Beijing we visited famous sights such as the Forbidden City and the Great Wall and had some delicious Peking duck.

October

The month started out with a week long break – Golden Week – which we used to travel to Hong Kong and visit Jana in Taipei. I also had an epic scone bake-off with Ellie. Most of our weekends we spent at brunch, shopping for tailored clothes and getting Christmas presents at the Pearl Market.

November

Thorben tried some hairy crabs while they were in season and I indulged in yummy breakfast street food. I also got some more Christmas shopping done during Single’s Day. After months of eating out and Sherpa deliveries I finally cooked for the first time. We got to check off a big item on the travel bucket list and explored the magnificent temples of Angkor. After 4 beautiful days in Cambodia we also visited Singapore.

December

In December we had to say our final good bye to Ellie at the airport. The rest of the month was much more festive: We ate Raclette, baked some Christmas cookies and went to a Christmas market. After a crazy half a year we got on a plane to Germany to celebrate Christmas with our families and catch up with friends.

Thanks to everyone who made 2017 so fun. Let’s see what 2018 has to offer!

Shanghai Street Eats Breakfast Foodie Tour

Shanghai Street Eats Breakfast Foodie Tour

After the delicious foodie tour in Hong Kong, I looked up what UnTour Food Tours offers in Shanghai. One, because it was fun and delicious and two, because the flyer I got in Hong Kong included a 10% off voucher πŸ™‚ The one that spoke to me was the Shanghai Street Eats Breakfast so that’s what Ellie and I did on Sunday morning. Unfortunately the 9am tour was already fully booked, so I dragged myself out of bed for the 8am one. Spoiler: It was worth it.

We started at Xiangyang Park where we got a good glimpse of typical morning park activities: Water calligraphy, group sword swinging, Tai Chi and dancing. Our first stop was a street corner with a few different stalls. We tried jianbing (Shanghai pancake), fried dough sticks (kind of like unsweetened churros) dipped in fresh soy milk, savory and sweet baozi (buns), fried dumplings and potstickers with pork filling. My favorite was the jianbing and watching the lady whip them up in record time. Luckily, our apartment is only a couple blocks away so I’ll be back to this magical place soon.

Next, we stopped at a little cafe for some drinks and then wandered through some alleyways. Our destination was a shop which served hand-pulled noodles in scallion oil and soy sauce – yum! Watching the guy pulling the noodles was an attraction by himself. He was so fast I’m half convinced he just had the thin noodles up his sleeve before he started. Our guide Christina risked her life for us by cutting up the noodles with scissors to divide them (bad luck, because long noodles = long life!) πŸ™‚ We also had bamboo tofu with green peppers which was good and spicy.

After a little trip through the wet market, we went to a dumpling shop and had delicious xiaolongbao (soup dumplings) and wonton soup. After that I was convinced I could not eat anything more but there’s always room for dessert πŸ™‚ We got bubble waffles which were crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, so just perfect.

Overall it was a fantastic tour with a great guide. Christina, a Canadian/Cantonese who has been living in China for 8 years, was really nice, told us lots of interesting stories and pointed out buildings I have walked by lots of times without noticing. Of course I may have also liked her because she fed us a lot and wore an awesome shirt.