Ever since our arrival in Shanghai, we’ve had an empty fridge in our apartment with only a few snacks, soy sauce and some small breakfast items in the cupboards. And I have to say it feels pretty good not constantly having the pressure of making a shopping list, spending ages in the supermarket and then having the pressure of cooking almost every night and having to use up everything in time to not to produce waste.
Here is a little snapshot of what we have tried and really liked:
1. Chinese Hotpot
My lovely colleagues took me to a Chinese hotpot place in a mall (who would have ever thought of having dinner in a mall in Europe?!) called Dolar Shop. We all had a pot with boiling stock, made our own dipping sauces from a selection of sauces, herbs, spices and garlic and ordered lots of different small dishes to boil in the pot. It’s a great meal to socialise and reminded me a little bit of fondue, just with lots of more variety to eat!
2. Favourite “fast food” place so far: Hefu Noodle
As mentioned earlier, before coming to Asia, I never went to the mall to go to a restaurant. But here it just seems that there are many amazing restaurants in the mall. We have a small mall around the corner and I fell in love with this small fast-food like restaurant Hefu Noodle. They serve amazing soup (above is my favourite mushroom garlic noodle soup), breaded crayfish and prawn and he even tried the chicken feet! (His comment: it was fine but a bit tasteless. Edible but not exactly flavoursome. My comment: I couldn’t even watch him eat it). They also serve amazing fruit juices and affordable beer.
3. Korean food
As we live in a Korean neighbourhood, it was natural that we had to try some of their food. The vegetarian Korean dishes are delicious – we ordered a savior pancake with spring onions and a hot dish with carrots, cucumber, bean sprouts and a fried egg on top.
As you can also see in the picture, we are regularly drinking the local Tsingtao beer, it’s not bad at all. However, there is also a huge variety of German and international beers in almost every bar and supermarket.
The other day we just wanted to have a quick meal and made the mistake of walking into a Korean restaurant that offers the big hotpot in the middle of the table that you share. Needless to say, it was way too much for us, but still very affordable. Before even being given a menu, the waiter asked us to go to the aquarium with him and choose a (alive!) fish we want to eat. What an experience – and what a delicious fish though! It’s just a shame that the soup base was way too spicy and I was really suffering while eating this dish.
4. Chinese BBQ
Sold as street food and in restaurants, the meat and seafood skewers and vegetables grilled with lots of spices and garlic are a real highlight! Our favourite restaurant for that so far is Tan, but I’m not sure if that’s just one restaurant or a chain. (On the top right image you can see grilled aubergine with lots of garlic and spring onions, my personal favourite).
5. Fruit shops
After all these amazing, but also often greasy meals, it’s nice to eat some fruit. And we were surprised that there is an abundance of fruit shops every few meters on the street. Some fruits can be very overpriced though and the only fruit we’ve tried and didn’t like so far was…. (drumroll) Durian. It’s no wonder though as it’s the most smelly fruit in the world. I was just hoping that it would taste much better than it looks. But unfortunately we found it disgusting.
Accidental purchase (not recommended)
Every time we try something new, we choose to either go with something that is similar to what we already know or completely unknown. One time we really missed – we just pointed on a noodle dish and showed the translated words for “take away” on my phone as nobody spoke English. As we got home and unpacked and put the noodle dish on our plates we were very surprised to find proper snails in the noodles. I just couldn’t bring myself to eat them – they just look like they’ve just been picked up from the street in the rain.
Anyway – it’s hit and miss!