Shanghai

[Shanghai] Qimin Organic Hotpot & Market 齐民市集

Categories: Hotpot, Organic, Chinese
Date Visited:  Multiple times in December 2017 & January 2018
Address: 4/F, Reel Mall, 1601 Nanjing Xi Lu  | 南京西路1601号芮欧百货4层 (常德路) -- but they have multiple locations!
Price:  ~120-160RMB per person
Verdict: YES! Qimin Organic Hotpot is the first organic hotpot in Shanghai. Founded by the same people behind Green & Safe, Qimin Organic Hotpot is a clean & pleasant hotpot experience. It's perfect for dates and small groups (though I did have a dinner here once with 8 people which worked fine). Casual and fun, I LOVE this place!

Reservations: Recommended although not necessary. 
Hours: Mon-Sun (11am-10pm)

 Restaurant Interior of JingAn (Reel Department Store) Location 

Restaurant Interior of JingAn (Reel Department Store) Location 

 Customize your own condiments and sauces

Customize your own condiments and sauces

 Combo meat platter!

Combo meat platter!

 Qimin's Organic Yunnan Mushrooms

Qimin's Organic Yunnan Mushrooms

 Black truffle dumplings

Black truffle dumplings

 Deep fried shrimp cakes

Deep fried shrimp cakes

 Shrimp platter

Shrimp platter

 Qimin's Organic Produce & Products Market inside the Restaurant (lots of products from Green & Safe) 

Qimin's Organic Produce & Products Market inside the Restaurant (lots of products from Green & Safe) 

[Shanghai] Fu He Hui 福和慧 - Autumn Tasting Menu (One Michelin Star)

Awards: Michelin One Star (2016, 2017), Asia's 50 Best Restaurants 2016
Date Visited: November 2016
Categories: Vegetarian, Fine Dining, Chinese
Address: 1037 Yuyuan Lu, near Jiangsu Lu, Changning District, Shanghai
上海市长宁区愚园路1037号, 近江苏路
Price:  Tasting menu only, 880RMB per set, without drinks
Verdict: YES for refined & innovative vegetarian dishes. Great for dates, business dinners, and special celebrations. Forget about what you think you know about Chinese vegetarian food. Be prepared for a good mix of traditional vs experimental offerings and displays, eg. Shanghainese-style stir fry gluntinous cakes with shaved black truffles to smokey porcini on sticks in a jar. Spectacular services, environment and presentation.
Hours: Mon-Sun (11am-10pm)

   "Matsutake" (松茸) ; with taro, crisp rice & snow pea

"Matsutake" (松茸); with taro, crisp rice & snow pea

fuhehui-mushrooms
  "Truffle" (   松露 ) glutinous rice cakes;   garden greens, bamboo shoots and BLACK TRUFFLES

"Truffle" (松露) glutinous rice cakes; garden greens, bamboo shoots and BLACK TRUFFLES

fuhehui-champagne
 "Bean Curd" (豆腐); organic tofu, gingko, peach gum, soy - super silky and smooth tofu covered with a gelatinous jelly-like topping

"Bean Curd" (豆腐); organic tofu, gingko, peach gum, soy - super silky and smooth tofu covered with a gelatinous jelly-like topping

  "Lotus Fungus" (荷仙菇) soup;     baby corn, white fungus, black medlar, vegetarian consumme -   immaculately pure without losing taste - not oily or greasy at all!

"Lotus Fungus" (荷仙菇) soup; baby corn, white fungus, black medlar, vegetarian consumme - immaculately pure without losing taste - not oily or greasy at all!

  "Lotus Fungus" (荷仙菇) soup

"Lotus Fungus" (荷仙菇) soup

  "Truffle" (   松露 ) glutinous rice cakes

"Truffle" (松露) glutinous rice cakes

fuhehui-01
fuhehui-banana-dessert-ice-cream

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[Shanghai] 5 Dim Sum Spots - SmartShanghai Review

Hey guys, please check out the article I wrote for SmartShanghai in regards to dim sum spots around Shanghai. I reviewed the following 5 restaurants that offer yumcha. Check it out to see what I recommend/not recommend!

  • Ah Yat Abalone 阿一鲍鱼
  • Hengshan Cafe 衡山小馆 (Yan'an Rd location)
  • Xin Dau Ji 新斗记
  • Loonfung House 龙凤楼
  • Tang Palace Seafood Restaurant 唐宫海鲜坊

Check out the article for details of where to get your dimsum fix in Shanghai!

[Shanghai] Tasty Congee & Noodle Wantun Shop (正斗粥麵專家) - iapm

Tasty Congee & Noodle Wantun Shop (正斗粥麵專家) – Shanghai iapm branch

Categories: Cantonese, Dimsum
Address: iapm 5/F, 999 Huaihai Zhong Lu, near Shanxi Lu (淮海中路999号环贸广场5楼, 近陕西路路)
Hours: Daily, 11am - 10pm.
Price: ~¥200-250 per person
Verdict: Yes for a quick lunch around the area. Take out available too. However, for a proper dimsum meal with friends and family, I would go elsewhere.

Telephone: 021-64483552 | Dianping

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Tasty Congee & Noodle Wantun Shop (正斗粥麵專家) is a Hong Kong-based casual restaurant chain that serves traditional Cantonese cuisine. Think comfort food and casual dimsum. Despite serving humble foods like noodle soups and congee, the institution’s been awarded the “Best of the Best Culinary Award – Gold with Distinction” from Hong Kong Tourism Board and its original branch (Ho Hung Kee) even carries a prestigious Michelin one-star crown.

 Tasty Congee & Noodle Wantun Shop 正斗 - iapm 5/F dining food court

Tasty Congee & Noodle Wantun Shop 正斗 - iapm 5/F dining food court

Having visited all its Hong Kong locations and feeling consistently satisfied every meal, I had moderately high hopes for its Shanghai branches to be decent. I happened to be near its iapm location on Sunday and gleefully hopped inside. I was surprised to find the restaurant (or should I say fancy food court enclosure?) situated in an open area on the 5th floor. What is partially so admirable about Tasty Congee in Hong Kong is its successful integration of the luxury and the modest—having the refined atmosphere and décor of a high-end restaurant but serving down-to-earth unpretentious and simple dishes. The interiors are clean, contemporary and spacious—complete with fitting traditional Chinese ornaments and gold accents. I mean, what’s there not to like when you can enjoy affordable and tasty “jook,” shrimp rolls and wantun noodles at a full-service restaurant without having to worry about sanitation? You also won’t find yourself swimming in a sea of clattered shrieks and voices that’s typical at a cha chaan tang. Hence my astonishment when I found Shanghai iapm’s Tasty Congee to be located in a shared area with Bistro BB1 Vietnamese Delights. Ermm, okay. But maybe I shouldn’t be too quick to judge. Perhaps the food lives up to its name, I told myself. The environment is upscale considering its fast-service restaurant positioning here—at least the food seems to be cooked to order, the waitresses are reasonably attentive, and the seats are fairly comfortable. Let’s see if the food’s any good.

The menu is not extensive but enough to have a reasonable selection. I ordered the dimsum staples: steamed shrimp dumplings (晶莹鲜虾饺), steamed chicken feet with black bean sauce (百味酱蒸凤爪), steamed pork buns (叉烧包), mixed steamed rice noodle rolls (混酱肠粉), original beef brisket noodle soup (原汁柱侯牛腩面), sliced tenderloin beef congee (生滚牛肉粥), stir-fry Chinese broccoli (芥兰) and stir-fry flat rice noodles with beef (干炒牛河).  

Food arrived in a jiffy. Everything was served onto our table with 5 to 10 minutes. Devour mode: on.  

 Beef brisket noodles (原汁柱侯牛腩面) & others

Beef brisket noodles (原汁柱侯牛腩面) & others

 Stir-fry flat rice noodles with beef (干炒牛河)

Stir-fry flat rice noodles with beef (干炒牛河)

 Pork buns (char siu bao) - 叉烧包

Pork buns (char siu bao) - 叉烧包

The chicken feet, beef brisket noodle soup and rice noodle rolls were standard. The steamed shrimp dumplings came out smaller than average and although the prawn-pork filling had a good commixture of savory pork and prawn, it lacked a springy texture and juiciness. The semi-translucent skin wrapping was a tad too thick as well. The char siu baos (pork buns), however, were fantastic. The meat to bun ratio was on-point. The buns were clearly freshly steamed, all soft, plump and fluffy encasing a center of nicely mixed sweet and savory honey-glazed barbecue pork. 

Most of the dishes weren’t memorable and not on par in terms of taste and quality as their Hong Kong counterparts, but satisfying. For a food court meal, it was outstanding. I wouldn’t complain if the meal came out to a justifiable price but unfortunately it did not. I still do not understand how the bill came out to be 450RMB for two people eating your run-of-the-mill dimsum dishes at a communal dining area. We didn’t even order drinks.

For ~$75USD dollars, I could’ve gone to Lei Garden downstairs. Heck, I could’ve gone to Ah Yut Abalone Restaurant for an all-round perfect dimsum meal. I guess I can’t say I would come back here again even if I am in the area. 

Tasty Congee, see you next time in Hong Kong.

[Shanghai] Le Creme Milano

Categories: Gelateria
Address:  173 Fumin Rd, near Julu Rd (富民路173号,近巨鹿路); many other locations around Shanghai (list of locations
Date visited:  August 2013
Price:  ¥20 RMB for an XS cup (1 scoop, 1 flavor), ¥28 (S cup), ¥38 (M cup), ¥48 (L cup)
Verdict: Not very authentic.

www.lecrememilano.com | List of flavors

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I heard that this is the best gelateria in Shanghai. If that is true, then Shanghai needs to step up on its gelato offerings.

I generally prefer gelato to ice cream because it’s more dense and intensely-flavored. What is the difference, you may ask. Gelato feels creamier than ice cream for three reasons:

  • Gelato uses more milk as opposed to cream and egg yolks ice cream. Hence gelato has a lower fat content.
  • Gelato contains less air as it is churned at a much slower speed (less overrun) than ice cream.
  • Gelato is served at a slightly higher temperature than ice cream (otherwise it would be too frozen).
  Two XS cups of "Le Creme Milano" (hazelnut, Ferrero Rocher, Nutella chocolate mixing)

Two XS cups of "Le Creme Milano" (hazelnut, Ferrero Rocher, Nutella chocolate mixing)

My friend and I tried a couple of flavors and in the end both decided to get a scoop each of their signature “Le Creme Milano” flavor (Hazelnut, Ferrero Rocher, Nutella chocolate mixing).

We both agreed that the taste was a little off. It didn’t have the full, rich and smooth delicacy that bona fide gelato in Europe has (eg. Amorino, Berthillon, Gelupo).

  Pricing list

Pricing list

 

[Shanghai] Bon Vivant 宝万坊: Asian-Inspired French Fine Dining in Shanghai

Categories: French, Fusion, Fine dining
Address: 222 Middle Huaihai Rd, Lippo Plaza, 3/F, 303A, near Songshan Rd(淮海中路222号力宝广场3楼303A, 近嵩山路)
Hours: Monday-Sunday 10:00am – Midnight
Date visited: August 23, 2013
Price: 1164RMB for two (dinner) // 6-course prix-fixe dinner (including coffee & tea)
Verdict: Go make a reservation now. I strongly recommend it.

www.justinquek.com/bv.html | Dianping | 3330 0717

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This was my last dinner in in Asia this summer and certainly one of the best.

A contemporary Asian-inspired French restaurant, Bon Vivant was founded by one of Singapore’s most internationally-known celebrity chefs, Justin Quek (郭文秀). He's been classically trained at some of the best kitchens in France and England during the early '90s and became the first Singaporean to be appointed personal chef at the French Embassy in Singapore in 1992. He was the man who brought Singaporean restaurant Les Amis to great fame and the first recipient to receive Chef of the Year award from World Gourmet Summit Awards of Excellence. 

Unlike Quek’s more grandiose endeavors in Singapore (Sky on 57 at the Marina Bay Sands hotel) and Taiwan (Justin’s Signature and Just in Bistro & Wine Bar), Bon Vivant is a small and quietly hidden space on the top floor of a luxury mall. The immaculately prepared and experimental French gourmet here makes this one of the finest restaurants in Shanghai. I'll definitely be coming back when I return to Shanghai again.

 Bread basket

Bread basket

First course: JQ’s signature truffle foie gras xiao long bao, one piece [招牌鹅肝松露小笼]

  JQ’s signature truffle foie gras   xiao long bao, one piece    [招牌鹅肝松露小笼]

JQ’s signature truffle foie gras xiao long bao, one piece [招牌鹅肝松露小笼]

Oh yes. That’s right. It tasted as heavenly as it sounds. Wrapped in a blanket of truffle oil, the foie gras was buttery rich but not overpowering. The combination was surprisingly not as heavy or greasy as I would have imagined. The skin, delicately thin, was firm yet soft in texture. This is street food turned extravagant and perfect fusion of the East and West.

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Second course: Fresh prawn mango salad with house-made plum dressing [鲜虾芒果色拉配自制梅子酱]

  Fresh prawn mango salad with house-made plum dressing  [鲜虾芒果色拉配自制梅子酱]

This is what summer tastes like and balanced out the heaviness of the first dish. The seafood and fruits were fresh and the dressing was tangy and flavorful, but what made the dish unique and exception was the sprinkled sesame on top. I’d order this on any hot summer day!

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Third course: Pan roasted sea bass with lobster emulsion [嫩煎鲈鱼配龙虾泡沫汁]

  Pan roasted sea bass with lobster emulsion  [嫩煎鲈鱼配龙虾泡沫汁]

Surrounded by lobster foam, this sea bass had a crispy skin and tender insides. Another perfect example of how fusion food can taste amazing when made correctly. Garlic chives (Chinese chives, 韭黄, or “nira” in Japanese) is a common ingredient in Chinese cooking but not so often used in Western dishes. In this case, the chives enhanced the flavors of the sea bass without it being overwhelming as garlic chives are actually more mild and subtle in taste than regular chives. 

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Fourth course: Grilled Australian beef tenderloin with wild mushroom black truffle sauce [扒烤澳洲牛柳配野菌黑松露汁]

  Grilled Australian beef tenderloin with wild mushroom black truffle sauce   [扒烤澳洲牛柳配野菌黑松露汁]

I tend to shy away from ordering steak (if I have the option to do so) just because I’m very picky about how my meat is prepared. I like them tender and slightly raw, but please, without a trace of blood. I know I’m difficult, but hey if you’re going to ask me how well done I want it to be then you better make it that way.

This steak was exactly what I wanted. The meat quality is top notch and the preparation even better. I don’t remember the last time I was perfectly satisfied with my steak. The truffle mushroom sauce was exceptional and full of flavor. Mmmm….

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Fifth course: Tea/coffee 茶咖啡

Your choice.

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Sixth course: Baked chocolate fondue lava cake with raspberry vanilla ice cream [岩溶巧克力蛋糕配覆盆子香草冰淇淋]

  Baked chocolate fondue lava cake with raspberry vanilla ice cream  [岩溶巧克力蛋糕配覆盆子香草冰淇淋]

Holy cow. If you like chocolate, you’ll be filled with pure joy. I was stuffed beyond words by dessert time but nothing could stop me from devouring this whole baked molten chocolate lava cake and wiping the entire plate clean. When the warm gooey chocolate goodness melted in my mouth, it melted my heart too.

 Front view of the restaurant from across the hall

[Shanghai] elEFANTE: Mediterranean by el Willy

Categories: Mediterranean, Deli

Address: 20 Donghu Rd, near Huaihai Lu (东湖路20号, 靠近淮海中路)
Hours: Tuesday – Sunday: 11:00am – 3:00pm (lunch), 6:00pm – 10:30pm (dinner);
            closed Mondays
Date visited: August 2013 
Price: ¥136 RMB for two (lunch)
Reservations:  Preferably yes for dinner
Verdict: Slightly disappointing for its reputation. I’d probably come back to try their dinner menu. Lunch was mediocre.

www.el-efante.com | Facebook | 5404 8085

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Why elephants, you may ask. At least that was my question when I finally found the entrance (it’s a little hidden if you don’t know what you’re looking for). It is located inside The Happy House, at the former venue of “el Willy.” If you can’t find it,jJust follow the elephant path - look for the big elephant outside on the street and walk straight into the little alley. Inside you’ll find the big door leading not only to elEFANTE, but also to Sushi Oyama and La Vinoteca Torres.

  The big elephant on the street. 

The big elephant on the street. 

elEFANTE is the new brainchild of chef/restaurateur Willy Truliàs Moreno, the man behind “el Willy.” It is a Mediterranean deli and restaurant with an elephantine menu (haha, get it?) that offers both traditional and eclectic Spanish/Italian influenced dishes such as imported cheeses and charcuterie, “fried egg with grilled scampi, wild mushrooms and pedo ximenez reduction” and “organic crudités with ‘eastern dips’: baba ganoush, hummus, taramosalata.”

  With Shanghai Girls Eats. And cute menu page!

With Shanghai Girls Eats. And cute menu page!

Although dinner here can get pricey, the lunch sets here won’t break your bank:

  • Two mini dishes, ¥25 RMB
  • Appetizers, ¥58 RMB
  • Mains, ¥68 RMB
  • Desserts, ¥48 RMB
  • Juices, ¥35-60 RMB

My lunch date ("the other crazy camera girl") Shanghai Girl Eats and I ordered two mains and shared.

Seared snapper with grilled vegetables sumac and vierge sauce (¥68 RMB)

I was disappointed to find the snapper a little overcooked. The grilled vegetables were fine but the overall flavors of the dish weren’t all that exciting. It was not bad but I certainly expected something more avant-garde from el Willy.

  Seared snapper with grilled vegetables sumac and vierge sauce

Squid ink spaghetti with seafood, arugula, preserved lemon  (¥68 RMB)

Squid ink pasta is always a hit or miss. The spaghetti was decent and I loved the scallops but again, it wasn’t anything particularly special. There was just something lacking from this dish that makes me want to come back for it.  

  Squid ink spaghetti with seafood, arugula, preserved lemon

However, the restaurant décor is adorable. Go scavenge for all the elephants!

  Chopsticks
  Elephant at the bar.

The deli shop sells specialty Spanish food items such as cold cuts.

  Deli

[Shanghai] Ji Heng Taiwanese Beef Noodles 吉亨面馆

Cuisine: Taiwanese, Noodles
Address: 192 Hongsong Rd, Minhang District, Shanghai (红松路192号, 近金汇路)  
Other Branches?: Yes. List of all locations here
Date Visited: August 2013 (revisited and photos edited in Dec 2017)
Price: ~¥30-45RMB
Verdict: 7/10. It's not the best I've ever had but it's good enough. Definitely a cravings cruncher and a great steal for the price! Order their signature soup beef noodles and a few appetizers (bean curds and pork knuckle!)

Dianping | Shanghai City Weekend

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If you know me at all you’ll know that beef tendon noodle soup is one of my favorite foods of all time.  Bring me a good bowl of hearty sizzling hot beef noodle soup and I’ll love you forever (just kidding… but call me maybe?). Haha alright I know I'm not that funny. Anyway, as you might have guessed, I’m always on a search for the best beef noodle soup in town no matter where I go (my favorite so far is Happy Nouilles in Paris)!

Ji Heng Noodles (吉亨麵館) is an expanding chain in Shanghai that specializes in Taiwanese beef noodles. After the tremendous success and popularity of their first store on 433 Guyang Rd (古羊路433号), they have expanded to all areas of Shanghai. Currently there are over 8 branches around the city.

  Marinated pork knuckle, Taiwanese style 台式卤猪脚 (¥24RMB)  My favorite side dish! Get your fix of natural collagen and beautify your skin. It's cooked to perfection. 

Marinated pork knuckle, Taiwanese style 台式卤猪脚 (¥24RMB)
My favorite side dish! Get your fix of natural collagen and beautify your skin. It's cooked to perfection. 

  Pot Roast Beef Tendon Noodle Soup 红烧牛筋面 (¥32RMB)  To make a great bowl of beef noodle soup, the smell of it should already make you salivate. The broth should be aromatic, rich, and savory. Slightly spicy would be nice too. It should be slowly braised with tender pieces of beef (or tendon in my case) and of course, full of freshly housemade noodles.  The broth could be slightly stronger but I like that it's not overly salty. The noodles can be ordered either thick or thin. Noodles here are thick. 

Pot Roast Beef Tendon Noodle Soup 红烧牛筋面 (¥32RMB)
To make a great bowl of beef noodle soup, the smell of it should already make you salivate. The broth should be aromatic, rich, and savory. Slightly spicy would be nice too. It should be slowly braised with tender pieces of beef (or tendon in my case) and of course, full of freshly housemade noodles.

The broth could be slightly stronger but I like that it's not overly salty. The noodles can be ordered either thick or thin. Noodles here are thick. 

[Shanghai] 阿嬷米苔目, Local Southern Taiwanese

Categories: Taiwanese (Southern)
Address:  158 Ziteng Lu (紫藤路158号)
Hours: Monday - Sunday, 11:00am-10 pm
Date visited: May 2013
Price of my meal:  ¥120RMB
Verdict: Will come back!

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阿嬷米苔目is a hidden and small hole-in-the-wall that serves authentic southern Taiwanese food (台南). I would never have found this place if my dad didn’t take me here! Don’t expect too much service from this local joint though; come for the food, not the service/environment!

油饭- Taiwanese glutinous rice with mushrooms, dried shrimps and shredded pork (12RMB).

It is as delicious as it looks. Surprised to find a generous portion of shrimp and mushrooms inside! Yum.

  油饭   Taiwanese glutinous rice   

煎带鱼 - Pan-fried largehead hairtail (Beltfish)

Must order – the meat was super juicy and tender! My favorite dish of the meal.

  煎带鱼Beltfish

鱿鱼- Poached squid with side sauce and wasabi.  

I’m not a big fan of wasabi so I ate it without the sauce and it was still good! The squid was chewy and fresh.

 鱿鱼 Poached squid

通心菜 - Morning glory. Hard to go wrong with this dish.

 Morning glory