Tag: review

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 😉

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 😉 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.  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!

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.

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.