Tag: brunch

A Foodie Weekend in Taipei

A Foodie Weekend in Taipei

Last weekend I took a 3 day trip to Taipei to visit Jana and Ellie. It’s been almost a year since I last saw Jana (Golden Week last year!) and 5 months since Ellie’s business trip to China, so to say I was excited is a bit of an understatement 🙂

To sum it up, all we did was eat and talk and take pictures of us eating. The 2 tourist shots I got were more of a coincidence. We saw Taipei 101 several times on our way to and from food places and then a nice temple was in front of a night market we went to.

Din Tai Fung

Let me start at the beginning. After I landed the first order of business (after dropping off my bag) was to go to Din Tai Fung. While we have several of them in Shanghai, they have one major flaw: They don’t serve chocolate xiaolongbao! So I had to get my fix of them and they were beautiful.

Jamie’s Italian

For Friday night dinner Jana and I headed to Jamie’s Italian. While this might not be the obvious choice when going to Taipei, Jana and I have a special place for Jamie’s Italian in our hearts after our trip to Budapest last year. We ended up eating 3 pizzas, because they were just so good 🙂 This time we “only” shared an appetizer, 2 pizzas and 2 desserts. The waitress was still impressed with us – she suggested we share one pizza because it’s big. What an amateur.

Toasteria

For Saturday brunch we went to Toasteria. I’d researched brunch places in Taipei before my trip and Jana made the reservations – team work 🙂 They have lots and lots of options, including omelettes, classic breakfasts, pasta, paninis … I got french toast and then shared a grilled cheese. Apparently they’re famous for those so I just had to have one. It was delicious.

Raohe Night Market

In search of greasy street food we went to Raohe Night Market Saturday night. I don’t remember the name of any of the food we had but it was all pretty good! We had scallion pancakes, ice cream with caramelized peanut shavings and cilantro wrapped in a crepe type thing, passion fruit jelly on a stick, a deep fried salted egg yolk pork thing with sweet potato, fruit juice (vitamins!) and baked pork buns. In that exact order. Also, we wore matching dumpling t-shirts. Just because we’re awesome 🙂

Pool time

Our original plan was to spend all the time we were not eating at the pool. Sadly, it was closed all day Saturday for maintenance and when we got there early Sunday morning we were told we could only swim with swimming caps … which we didn’t have and they didn’t provide. Oh well, so we only got to relax next to the pool for a couple of hours.

The Hello Kitty Taxi

When we got into the taxi on our way to brunch on Sunday we were in for a treat. It was completely decked out in Hello Kitty merchandise! I’m glad we took some photos as proof 🙂

Sugar Pea

Our destination for that cab ride was Sugar Pea. We all agreed, if Instagram was a place, this would be it 🙂 Anyhow, the food was really yummy … and pretty. Of course I took pictures. And put them on Instagram.

Thanks for a fantastic weekend, Jana and Ellie! I can’t wait to come back soon and continue eating our way through Taipei!

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 😉

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 🙂

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 “好厨师” (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 🙂

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 🙂

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 II

Eating out in Shanghai – Part II

After collecting 16 new restaurants (plus there are quite a few more on my phone waiting to be uploaded), it’s about time for Part II of the restaurant review. So here are lots and lots of food pictures from the places we ate at in the last few weeks:

Ban Ban by Sproutworks – Asian fusion 

We went to Ban Ban in the beginning of July but I forgot to include it the first review. The main thing they sell is “bowls” where you pick a base (rice, noodles, greens), a protein (chicken, salmon, beef, tofu etc.) and then a style which defines what toppings and sauce you get. Mine was called “Hippie in me” and had a yummy miso cashew dressing. Thorben got “The Soul in Seoul” which had kimchi, the spicy Korean version of Sauerkraut, in it. It was pretty tasty and I liked their condiment bar where you could get extra sauce and some more toppings. As many of the restaurants, it’s inside a mall, so it’s good for a quick, healthy(ish) bite.

Vesta – European 

Vesta is a Cafe style restaurant in Jing’An Kerry Center (a mall connected to our metro station). The food we had was pretty to look at and tasty. I really liked the grilled avocado with quinoa and salsa and the creamy porcini mushroom pasta I had. The only problem was that portions were quite small and we are good eaters 🙂

We ended up ordering a second round (in the end a total of 9 dishes between 3 people) to get full which made the meal a bit pricey.

Il Vino – Wine bar (Italian)

Il Vino is more of a wine bar than a restaurant and it showed in the quality of the food. While the cheese and meat platter were pretty good, my main dish wasn’t. The spaghetti tasted like they had been microwaved and the pesto didn’t have much taste and was too oily. Thorben’s salmon was good, though the “fresh vegetables” were just a few lettuce leaves. I wouldn’t go back to eat a full meal but maybe to drink a glass of wine and have some cheese with it 🙂

Project Wine – Wine bar (Spanish)

Because we don’t learn from our mistakes we went to another wine bar for dinner. (Actually we were on our way somewhere else but it was raining and this was close.) The location is pretty cool, so when we went back a couple of weeks later it was to just get drinks with friends and not for the food, which was okay but looked better than it tasted.

People 7 – Chinese (Fusion)

This place is Pearl’s bosses favorite restaurant and you need a password to get in. We were intrigued so Pearl made a reservation and was told our password. The password was a number (not sure how often it changes, so I’m not saying which one) and when we arrived there was a wall with 9 openings and you had to figure out how to open the door. If you did it wrong, a door on the opposite side opened and behind it was a mirror that said “Gotcha!” 🙂 We had some pretty good food there, I liked the chicken spring rolls and the huge fruit and vegetable spring roll we had. Thorben also liked the plum ribs (great taste but ribs are just not my thing) and the scallops dish (too spicy for me).

Cantina Agave – Mexican

This restaurant was recommended to us as the best Mexican restaurant in Shanghai by a Mexican. After having some yummy food delivered from there – I had a veggie burrito and guacamole and Thorben got Carnitas Taquitos, an avocado & shrimp salad and some arroz rojo – we had to check it out in person. And it was even better when we went, mainly because they have a salsa station where you can take as much salsa as you want. I loved both the pico de gallo and the mango, pineapple & black bean salsa. The guacamole there is delicious, too, especially paired with the quesadillas and some pico de gallo. Thorben also really liked the ceviche verde (seabass with avocado and apple), loaded fries and the black bean salad. We’ve been back since and we’ll be back again :).

Wagas – Global cuisine

At Wagas you order your food at the counter, get a number and then they bring it to your table. They offer sandwiches, wraps, salads, pasta, curries and bowls. We ordered there a couple times and I really liked the chicken, avocado and mango salad though the chicken was a bit dry. When we went to the cafe I got a chicken sandwich (pretty good) and the carrot cake (really good). Thorben has tried a couple different bowls, a Japanese style one and a Thai one. To me they looked a little too healthy but he seemed to like them 🙂 Overall, I think it’s a good place if you want to get a quick bite to eat or just some tea/coffee/juice with a piece of cake. (Global cuisine is what it says in BonApp, the foodie app we use, I didn’t come up with it.)

Cotton’s – Global cuisine

We went here for one of the InterNations Friday events but had dinner first before joining the fun. The garden is beautiful so we never made it inside. Thorben had a tuna, avocado and mango appetizer and salmon with risotto and I got bruschetta and spaghetti bolognese. The food was good but after reading that it was rated #2 in the French Concession I was expecting a little more. I’d come back with friends though, just because of the nice garden.

Epices & Foie Gras – French

We went here for another InterNations Brunch, though it was more like lunch because it started at 12:30. We each had 3 courses: I had croissant with salmon, beef skewers and peach tart and Thorben got a foie gras terrine, also the beef and creme brulee.  Everything was really good though Thorben said he was still a little hungry afterwards 🙂 The brunch here is a monthly event so we’ve already been there twice now and second time was just as good. Plus we had a small breakfast at home so no one left hungry 🙂


Sichuan Citizen – Chinese (Sichuan)

Sichuan Citizen was introduced to us by friends who have sadly already left Shanghai. The food was great when they took us there 3 months ago and we recently went back and had some of the things they showed us and tried some new dishes. I love the prawns which are covered in a delicious spice mix, the cauliflower with bacon and the beef schnitzel with plum sauce (which are not actually schnitzel but they look and taste very similar). The fried eggplant and green beans were almost as good as the ones we made in the cooking class 🙂 Thorben also really liked the tea smoked duck.

Lotus Eatery – Chinese (Hunan)

After an intensive 5 hours of playing board games, Shane introduced us to Lotus Eatery. So far all of her food recommendations were on point and this was no exception. Thorben even said that this was the best Chinese food he’s had so far. My favorite dishes were the fried goat cheese and the chicken with cashews in a sweet chili sauce. The okra, lotus root and rice noodle dishes were also very good. We went back here with some friends which are new to Shanghai and also tried the mashed potatoes which were yummy. The goat cheese, lotus root and chicken were again a big hit. I think this will be one of the places we bring our visitors.

Colca – South American

I went to Colca with a girl I met through InterNations and we ordered the set menu for 2 people. It was a lot of food 🙂 We got some bread, crunchy okra and croquetas with a dip, then a mixed salad and scallops, a beef pie and seafood rice and finally a peruvian flan and sorbets for dessert. Everything we got was really good, I especially liked the seafood rice. When we thought we were done (and super full already), we were brought another dessert. Let me quote the guy who brought it over: “I want to change the name on the menu. It should be called pure sex.” His reason was that it is really really good and also “hot and messy”. Oookay then. We both thought the dessert was delicious – according to the menu I think it was the crispy ravioli with chocolate truffle filling. We had a fun evening, the restaurant is cool, they have a nice terrace and the staff was really friendly (and hilarious), so I’d recommend it.

Bombay Bistro – Indian 

We went to Bombay Bistro for an InterNations event. I don’t know if it was because we were a bigger group or because they are fairly new but we waited forever for our food. The restaurant is nice and the food was sort of modern Indian. My appetizer – mushrooms stuffed with paneer – was pretty bland, the butter chicken was good, though I prefer the traditional style. Thorben’s crunchy okra and spinach was tasty and his main dish was fine as well. The reviews from the people around us were mixed. Maybe we’ll try again in a smaller group or just try a different Indian place as there is no lack of choice in Shanghai 🙂

Bull & Claw – Steak and Seafood

Because no Shanghai weekend is complete without brunch, we gladly said yes when a guy we met at the Supperclub dinner invited us to join him and his friends at Bull & Claw. The food was all delicious. I had avocado and feta ciabatta and French toast and Thorben got mushroom and feta fritters and the Lobster Benedict. Another place on the “must go back soon” list.

La Bota – Spanish 

On our way to the fabric market with Ellie and Pearl we went to Cool Docks, an area with several restaurants. Because nobody could make a decision which one to try Thorben did his favorite thing: roll a dice. So we ended up at La Bota and had lots of tapas. Everything we had was good, including the dessert. It is kind of out of the way, so I wouldn’t really take a taxi just to go there but if we’re back in the area I would eat here again.

Gemma – Italian

After having a pizza craving for a few days, we went to Gemma, because I read they have great Italian food. We got some bread first which wasn’t that great but came with a good yummy tapenade. As a starter we shared a salmon dish which was very good. I got the Gemma pizza with parma ham, stracciatella cheese, olives and rucola. It was delicious and made all my pizza daydreams come true 🙂 Thorben had the “Ossobuco alla Milanese” which is beef shank with Saffron Risotta and a side of fried zucchini with mint and ricotta. The menu said that the pasta is house made so we’ll definitely have to go back.

An Internations Brunch

An Internations Brunch

Having brunch on the weekend seems to be a favorite activity in Shanghai. A lot of restaurants offer brunch specials and many hotels have brunch buffets, often with free flow champagne. The brunches at fancy hotels often cost 100 and more. Though we can eat a lot, I’m not confident enough in our abilities to eat food worth this amount of money in one sitting 🙂

On Saturday there was an InterNations event to have breakfast at Wanda Reign on the Bund, a (self-rated) 7 star hotel that opened at the end of 2016. They have a breakfast special going on until the end of the year, so for 150 RMB (19 €) you can eat as much as you can manage and tea, coffee and juice are also included. The hotel lobby is pretty impressive and so was the breakfast buffet.

InterNations is an expat community we both joined when moving to Shanghai. There are different groups which organize events so you can meet people. Once a month there is a newcomers event, there is an event at a different bar each Friday night and now we are also members of the Brunch and Lunch Group which regularly meets to eat, so of course we had to sign up 🙂

We had a lot of fun at the breakfast talking to people from all over the place, for example we met someone from New Caledonia (had to look it up on a map first: it’s a French territory in the South Pacific).

On Sunday we went out for brunch again and had 3 delicious courses at Le Saleya, the French restaurant close to us (I already wrote about it but the food is just so pretty). Yes, we also went to the gym that weekend 😉