Tag: shanghai

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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

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 ๐Ÿ˜‰ 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.ย  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!

Random facts: how much can you fit on a bike?

Random facts: how much can you fit on a bike?

Level 1: Beginner

Nice effort but I assume this is just the start of collection round.

Level 2: Advanced

This is some pretty impressive stacking.

Level 3: Absolute Pro

You know you’ve piled it to maximum height when you can just barely fit under the power lines ๐Ÿ™‚

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 fusionย 

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 – Europeanย 

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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!” ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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.ย  Everything was really good though Thorben said he was still a little hungry afterwards ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚


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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 – Indianย 

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 – Spanishย 

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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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.

Shanghai City Lights

Shanghai City Lights

Hoarding Cheese

Hoarding Cheese

On Saturday at brunch we got the shocking news: Imported Cheese is now banned in China!

There was an article on City Weekend with the title: “China Bans Imported Cheese, Baking Powder, Canned Soup“, which details the situation. Of course that’s all we talked about for the rest of the brunch. It’s not as bad as it sounds – not all cheeses are banned, there is a list of almost 50 cheese including mold ripened ones like Brie, Camembert and some goat cheeses – but bad enough!

I haven’t really bought a ton of cheese since we moved, just the occasional piece to snack on. Just knowing I could get it anytime I want is mostly enough, but now … I want cheese! All of it! The stocks the stores have can still be sold, but after that they can’t import more. So I did what any normal person would do and ordered a bunch of cheese from epermarket, an online grocery store. I don’t think all of the types of cheeses we got are banned, but better safe than sorry ๐Ÿ™‚

While I was at it I also ordered some baking supplies including the now banned baking powder. I’m starting to miss baking. I think I’ll try out the oven this weekend.