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Farewell, China! July 31, 2011

Posted by pacejmiller in China, Travel.
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Four months after visiting the place, my posts on China are finally at an end.  As with my other travel writings, I have set up a page with all my China posts, which can be found by hovering the cursor over the ‘travel hq’ tab in the header.

I’ll leave you with some photos of the iconic Shanghai Oriental Pearl TV Tower and the Shanghai skyline from the area known as the Bund.

The haziness is apparently permanent in Shanghai…

Shanghai Brunch at Azul July 28, 2011

Posted by pacejmiller in China, Food, Reviews, Travel.
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We’re almost at the end of my China series and I’ve saved one of the best for last.  For our final meal in Shanghai we went to a stylish Spanish/Peruvian tapas joint called Azul in the Xuhui district in southwest Shanghai.

Azul is very popular with expats who enjoy a lazy brunch on the weekend.  The bottom floor looks more like a tapas bar and the upper floor (where we ate) resembles more of a restaurant.  They have one of these big enticing menus that offer an assortment of delightful Spanish fusion dishes and beverages which you can order as part of a three-course brunch set + drink.

If you zoom in real close you can read what's on the menu!

The prices are not considered cheap for locals but they are affordable compared to overseas prices (120RMB for 2 courses and 160RMB for 3).

Here’s what we ordered (with pics!)

(click on ‘more…’ to see!)


Lazy Morning at Shanghai’s Xin Tian Di July 25, 2011

Posted by pacejmiller in China, Travel.
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It was our last day in Shanghai and we decided to check out the so-called ‘hippest part of town’, known as Xin Tian Di (or Xintiandi).  It’s a pedestrian-only area filled with stone houses, narrow alleys and plenty of chic restaurants, shops and cafes.  Reminds me a little of a substantially more upmarket Ximending (from Taiwan).

At night, Xin Tian Di supposedly comes to life and it’s where all the youngsters go to hang out.  However, with no more evenings in Shanghai, we visited on this rainy morning, where it was relatively serene and filled with mostly tourists.

We walked around a little, took some happy snaps and bought a couple of souvenirs in the gift stores.  Even though we didn’t spend much time there it was interesting to see how rapidly Shanghai was developing.  With all the bars and restaurants there (some of them looked absolutely sensational) I imagine it would be crazy there after dusk.

For more information visit the official website, which contains just about everything you would need, including maps and directions and lists of available stores (split into restaurant, culture, fashion, lifestyle and service).

Here are some random photos (I’ve always wanted to try the ‘gallery’ format).

1221: Shanghainese Cuisine At Its Best July 22, 2011

Posted by pacejmiller in China, Food, Reviews, Travel.
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One of the first Shanghai posts I did was on the famous Xiao Nan Guo, a ‘must visit’ for traditional Shanghainese cuisine (review here).  I was disappointed with it and thought that perhaps my tastes simply didn’t mesh well with Shanghainese food.

Fortunately, we gave it another shot, and this time we took our tasting talents to the restaurant known as 1221, a casual but stylish joint on 1221 Yanan Xi Lu in Changning.  From the outside, with its neon sign, 1221 looked more like a Western bar, but the inside was irrefutably Chinese.  1221 is supposedly very popular with expats because while it is still traditional Shanghainese cuisine, the flavours have been slightly modified to appeal to a wider audience.  On this particular night, there were plenty of expat tables and tourists.

We had a big group so we ordered a lot of food from its extensive 26-page menu.  Most of the dishes were rather simple, much like my experience at Xiao Nan Guo, but they were astoundingly delicious.  I couldn’t believe how amazing they were.  Not all looked great, but time after time I was surprised by the mixtures of flavours and textures.

Sadly, after a long day the camera battery was dying again, so I must apologise once more for the quality of some of the photos, especially the last few, which were taken with a wonky iPhone camera.  Nevertheless, trust me when I say they were all good.

(to see the food pics click on ‘more’ — be warned, there are A LOT and they will make you HUNGRY!)


Gokohai: All You Can Eat ‘Shabu Shabu’ in Shanghai July 6, 2011

Posted by pacejmiller in China, Food, Reviews, Travel.
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And so the posts from my March visit to China continue (I know, I know,  I’m too slow).

In recent years, I have become somewhat of a fan of the shabu shabu (ie, Japanese-style hot pot), especially the ones where you get your own pot and don’t have to share saliva with everybody else.  There’s not much of that in Sydney (at least none that are genuinely awesome and/or come at a reasonable price), so I made sure I took advantage in Shanghai.

The one we went to was a very popular one called Gokohai Shabu Shabu (though I only found out the English name when I saw the business card).  I believe there are 6 stores in Shanghai and we visited one of them (that’s all I know; more details at the end of this post).  There were two floors and both allowed smoking (unfortunately), but we were lucky to get a separate room, though it was one of those where the table is real low and the there is a hole underneath it for you to slide your legs.  Not the most comfortable seating arrangement but it was better than inhaling the cigarette smoke (in addition to the hot pot smoke).

The best thing about Gokohai is that it’s an ‘all you can eat’ shabu shabu, meaning you can just keep ordering plates upon plates of succulent meats, fresh vegetables and all the condiments you want (only one scoop of ice cream for dessert per person though and drinks are extra).  However, unlike most such places, the quality of the meat and vegetables is exquisite.  The thinly sliced beef literally melts in your mouth.  And the sauces and condiments are simply sublime.

Let me explain through the crappy quality photos I took with an iPhone (sadly the camera battery died).

Everyone gets a dish of these condiments.  On the right is a stack of spring onions which I simply love.  In the middle is a wedge of lemon and crushed garlic (mmm) and on the left are balls of carrot and radish.  You mix whatever you want from this plate with soy sauce, vinegar, and/or this sensational sesame paste sauce that I couldn’t get enough of.

Check out the vegies you get at the start.  I don’t like tofu, but everything else on this plate I polished off.  And I got a few more plates after this too.

Everyone gets their own pot, which looks just like this.

Chuck in the stuff, wait until it’s cooked, then eat away!

Look at this beef, and try to imagine what it would look like if my camera hadn’t died.  We must have gotten a zillion plates of these.

I can honestly say it was one of the most satisfying shabu shabu experiences I’ve ever had.  And with a price range around 100-199 RMB, it was well worth it.

9 out of 10

Address: 1720 Huaihai Lu (near Wuxing Lu), Shanghai (French Concession district)
Phone: 021-6471 7657

(Don’t think this is the store we went to but I think it’s the main store).

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