Tag: Sichuan

China Travels: Leshan

China Travels: Leshan

After a day of exploring Chengdu, we hired a car to take us on a day trip to Leshan.

Leshan Giant Buddha

The reason to make the 2 hour drive was to see the Giant Buddha, a 71m tall statue carved into a red sand stone cliff. It’s the largest Buddha statue in the world and was carved over 1,200 years ago. To visit it, we headed to the Leshan Giant Buddha Scenic Area. After climbing lots of stairs and passing by some temples, we first saw the Buddha from the top. Mostly we saw the massive head. On one side of it, they carved stairs into the stone, so you can walk down on the side and see it from different angles. When you finally stand in front of the Buddha, it’s a pretty cool perspective, you mainly see huge toes πŸ™‚

The Giant Buddha is carved into a cliff facing a river, or to be more precise it’s at the junction of three rivers. So to be able to really see the whole statue, we took a short boat ride.

Huanglongxi

On our way back to Chengdu we stopped in Huanglongxi, an ancient town. It’s 1,700 years old and the buildings have been restored to look like they used to back in the day. It’s pretty touristy now and all the old houses have shops and food vendors inside them. Especially on a nice day like we had, I still think it’s still a nice place for a stop and a stroll along the stream.

And that’s it! The next morning we hopped on a plane back to Shanghai. Within one week, we managed to do quite a bit of exploring and saw some really cool places. The list of things to do in China remains long of course πŸ™‚

China Travels: Chengdu

China Travels: Chengdu

As you could probably tell from Thorben’s post, the next stop after Xi’an was Chengdu. Chengdu is the capital of Sichuan Province. It’s famous for 2 things: Spicy food and PANDAS!

Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding

I was very very excited about finally getting to see Pandas, so on our first morning we headed straight to the Panda base, or formally called the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. Since pandas usually give birth in August we were lucky to see little fluffy adorable panda cubs!

We spent around 4 hours at the base. Mostly we watched the pandas eat and sleep (or eat while lying down) which is basically all they do all day. A sign in the park titled “Why do giant pandas always eat and sleep?” explained that the nutritional value of bamboo is very low so “They are not lazy, they are energy efficient!”

Lazy or not, they are so cute and clumsy and just all over awesome! I took way too many pictures and videos. If the guys wouldn’t have gotten bored I think my sister and I would still be there watching them πŸ™‚

In addition to the giant pandas, the base housed quite a few red pandas. They are not as “energy efficient”, so they are not as easy to spot because they move a lot more, climb in the trees and are hidden in their enclosures. We got really lucky and had 2 awesome encounters. The first was early in the morning when it was just us and a couple little pandas came really close and Thorben was able to take great pictures. When we came back later in the day the keepers showed up to feed them, so many more came out to get some goodies.

They are so so so adorable and again, we had to be dragged away πŸ™‚

People’s Park

After all the excitement of the morning, we headed to a tea house in People’s Park and spent a few hours relaxing and drinking tea. The guide book said getting your ears cleaned in People’s Park was the thing to do so Thorben went for the full Chengdu experience πŸ™‚

Wenshu Monastery

Between the tea drinking and our next activity (spoiler: another food tour) we had a bit of time so we explored the Wenshu Monastery. It was very pretty with many different buildings and a little park, so definitely worth a visit.

Sichuan Food Tour

The last thing we did in Chengdu was to go on another food tour. Our guide Alina from Chengdu Food Tours showed us lots of different local foods, most of it pretty spicy. We started with bread buns stuffed with meat and rice noodles from a little street booth. Our next stop was a restaurant close to the monastery where they served sweet and spicy noodles, more rice noodles and rice cakes. At a local market Thorben went for the full Chengdu experience again and tried a rabbit head, including eyes, tongue and brain … yum. I passed, in case anyone was wondering πŸ˜‰

After the rabbit head we tried some pickled vegetables and had a mixed vegetable salad, something a bit more western friendly. The market also gave us the chance to try some different baijiu – we took our favorite with us in a 0.5l plastic bottle πŸ˜€ We finished the night at a local “fly” restaurant (fly because it’s so busy it’s buzzing) with some more spicy food.

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 fusionΒ 

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 – EuropeanΒ 

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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!” πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚ 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.Β  Everything was really good though Thorben said he was still a little hungry afterwards πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚


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 πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚ 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 – IndianΒ 

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 πŸ™‚

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 – SpanishΒ 

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 πŸ™‚ 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.