Monday, September 30, 2013

Street (ish) Eats: Henan Lamian

I was first introduced to Henan Lamian through Culinary Backstreets. As scallion oil noodles (cōng yóu bàn miàn) are one of my favorite Shanghainese specialties, I was happy to try out this street side restaurant.


There are two reasons this hole in the wall noodle joint is worth a visit. One, their cōng yóu bàn miàn is delicious. But the second and more important reason to come here is because their noodles are hand pulled (lāmiàn).


Hand pulled noodles are an art which many makers spends years perfecting. The noodle maker will first knead and stretch the dough and then pull it the length of his arms, over and over with small twists throughout. As the noodles becomes thinner, the maker will slap them against the counter to separate them into individual noodles. 


Cōng yóu bàn miàn are fairly simple and insanely delicious. To make the sauce, scallions are fried in oil until they are dark and crispy. Salt and soy sauce are then added and the sauce is complete. The oil is then mixed with your noodles for a delicious and cheap meal (bowls of noodles are only 6 rmb or .98 cents). I then like to add a little (okay, a lot) of black vinegar to mine.


I'd also recommend you add a side of qīngjiāofǔzhú or bamboo tofu. The crispy peppers and soft tofu are the perfect side dish to round out your meal. As there is no English menu available, make sure to practice the pronunciation of the dishes you want. Or point. Either one should work.

607 Changle Lu, near Donghu Lu

Monday, September 23, 2013

Street Eats: Pomegranate Juice

As I biked home recently, my eyes were drawn to a street cart set up at the end of my lane. As a lover of street food, I couldn't help but slow down. I hadn't seen this cart before but knew right away the wares he was peddling. Not only was it a juice cart, it was a pomegranate juice cart!!!!


I quickly pulled over my bike and watched as the seller sliced two pomegranates for my juice. He then expertly placed each half into the manual cranked juicer and produced a cup of rudy red juice. 




The slightly tart juice quenched my thirst and left my wallet 10 rmb lighter. As these carts will only be out for the few weeks pomegranates are in season, you can bet I will be parking myself on the street corner every day in the foreseeable future.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Imported Wholesale Foods Market

Last week, I biked 14 miles round trip to buy 7 pounds of cheese. I came home sweaty, sunburnt, and deliriously happy.


As I've mentioned before on this blog, cheese is not a staple of the Chinese diet. For this reason, the vast majority of cheese here is imported and therefore, insanely overpriced. One pound of mozzarella at City Shop will cost me 68 rmb or about $11 USD. Ouch.

When I heard rumors of an imported food market that sold cheese in bulk, I knew I had to check it out. Thankfully, my husband was happy to ride along to make sure this directionally challenged girl didn't get lost.


We arrived at the market and were immediately greeted by carts whirling past us at terrifying speed. As this is a wholesale market, goods are constantly being sent off to restaurants and other suppliers throughout the city (I hear this is even where the Avocado Lady sources some of her wares). While stores were happy to sell to us, the majority of people here are not buying for personal use and many of the stalls will only sell items to you in large quantities.


We make our way through the market, passing massive sacks of Sichuan peppercorns that could be smelled from a few feet away. Stall after stall featured dairy products, baking ingredients, nuts, spices, condiments, canned goods, and sacks of flour.



After checking out a few stalls, we purchased a bag of shredded mozzarella from Topwin Foods (stall 18-19). Our 3 kg bag cost only 140 rmb or roughly $23. The same amount of cheese would have cost nearly $70 USD at City Shop! They also boasted whole wheels of gouda for 240 rmb and blocks of cheddar for 280.

From a few other stores, we grabbed a chunk of parmesan reggiano for 32 rmb (usually 90 at City Shop) and some Philadelphia cream cheese for 25. With our  bags full of cheese and our cholesterol levels in jeopardy, we pedaled away, vowing to return soon. Only next time I might need a minivan to bring home my spoils.


Want to check it out for yourself and stock up on wheels of cheese? Head to:
Imported Wholesale Foods Market 
1255 Lianhua Rd, Minhang District 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Snapshots of Chinese Fashion

I realize my cell phone photos are not going to win me any awards. But they might win a few chuckles from my readers, and that is what is really important, right? So here is round two of my Chinese fashion showcase. And yes, I'm aware these photo make me look like a stalker.

It was rather cold when I took this photo. Look closely at his ears. He appears to be wearing custom leather ear covers. I hope these are all the rage next winter.


And then there was this woman on the subway in Hong Kong. I realize it's hard to see but her shirt says "Autistic Couture". Either she is really proud of being on the spectrum or her shirt was meant to say artistic.


This girl's butt says Meow Kingdom. How could I not take a creepy photo of her?


And this pensive soul showed off his love of tigers and fluffy hair while on a subway ride.


I've told you before animal is all the rage here. This life size tiger head backpack takes it to a whole new level.


This subway rider is feeling confident. I bet it's her sparkly belt buckle that brings all the boys to the yard.


And this, well this just makes no sense.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Shanghai Eats: Lotus Eatery

Yunnan food is perhaps my favorite Chinese cuisine. Unlike Sichuan or Hunan, Yunnan food isn't recognizable to most people outside of China. The region is known for everything from goat cheese and wild mushrooms to deep-fried insects. One of my most memorable meals is the first I had at Lost Heaven, a well known Yunnan spot beautifully located on the Bund. And while I am always happy to chow down there, I was curious to branch out and try a new (and less expensive) Yunnan spot.

Enter Lotus Eatery.


This restaurant serves up typical Yunnan cuisine at affordable prices. Here, I usually start off my meal with a glass of barley tea. The rich, nutty flavor is a perfect compliment to the other tastes on the table.

Fwd: #Picfx

For this cheese loving gal, my favorite dish is the pan-fried goat’s cheese, a specialty of the Bai and Sani ethnic groups.


The dish comes out pipping out and when dipped into the accompanying salt, pepper, and chili mix, makes for a great start to your meal.


Another dish to note is Grandma's mashed potatoes. These tots are chunky and delicious, full of garlic and chilies and topped off with green onion.


While not as other worldly as the cheese or potatoes, other solid dishes include the buckwheat cakes stuffed with mushrooms, the tea tree mushrooms, and the pineapple sticky rice. The cold eggplant is another safe bet as well.





There are two locations, rather close to each other. I prefer the larger, newer spot located at:
1112 Dingxi Lu

The original branch can be found at:
85 Yangzhai Lu

Monday, September 2, 2013

Real China

I have been fortunate to experience a fair amount of travel in China over the last year. During these travels, people inevitably ask me where I live. When I tell them Shanghai, they smile and dramatically gesture at the landscape surrounding us while telling me, "Now you are seeing real China".


And I get it, I do. Shanghai is an international city and doesn't look like the vast majority of the rest of China. But the thing is, for the more than 20 million Chinese who live here, this is their reality. This is their real China.


Sure, there are over 300 million farmers in this country who may never see a skyscraper or step foot in a shopping mall, but what makes their experience any more authentic than those living in Shanghai or Beijing? Is it the extreme poverty that those communities experience? Surely, that cannot be the case when 25 percent of households in Shanghai still do not have indoor plumbing. I'm going to let that sink in for a moment. In 2013, there are over 5 million people living in this modern city who still use chamber pots at night.


Saying Shanghai is not real China is like saying New York City isn't really America. No, there aren't cows and white picket fences on every corner, but any New Yorker will be quick to tell you that they are just as American as someone from rural Oklahoma. It's just a different type of lifestyle, a different type of China which I am experiencing. But I promise, it is just as authentic an experience.

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