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top ten foods of twenty ten

February 21, 2011

in Eat

“Hello! Happy to be eaten by you!” says Mr. Sheng Jian Bao (生煎包) enthusiastically.


I know it’s nearly already February, but here is my long-awaited (by myself, I don’t know about you) top 10 favorite foods of 2010. It took a while to sort through all the pictures and decide, but here it is. Unfortunately, Mr. Sheng Jian doesn’t make the cut, not because he’s not super delicious and cute, but I can’t stomach that much salt and juicy fats on a regular basis. I do recommend you go to 小杨生煎 (Yang’s Fried Dumplings) on Wujiang Road in Shanghai if you’re ever there though. [中文 address | English address]

Lots of heavy hitters weighing in this year. Can New York stand up to the sheer strength in numbers of varieties of different foods in merely 3 cities in China? Does French Laundry get a say, having kept my palate busy and satiated for 5 hours, course after course? Or does Chinese food still win me over, year after year? Here they are, ladies and gentlemen. My top 10 favorite foods (desserts included) from the past year in no particular order.

1. Char Siu Mayo Don from Totto Ramen in Hell’s Kitchen, New York City. Just utterly unbelievably fantastic, fatty, and juicy. I salivate thinking about it. I’ve written about it more than enough, so you should just know that it’s fatty pork, mayo, rice, and scallions. Nuff said.

char siu mayo don

2. Totto Spicy Ramen, again from Totto Ramen in Hell’s Kitchen, New York City. Why would you even go to Ippudo? Just tell me, is waiting 3 hours for a maybe decent bowl of ramen worth it? No, especially when you can have the best and most savory (and might I add, approved by Haru who is actually Japanese) bowl ever in less than an hours wait for probably half the price. I haven’t even been to Ippudo yet and I am so loyal to this bowl of ramen so much that I may just refuse to ever go to Ippudo, which I have heard time and time again, is overrated. But this is not.

totto spicy ramen w/boiled egg

3. Beef Noodle Soup with Knife-Cut Noodles (红烧牛肉刀削面 ) from Noodle Bull (很牛) on Fumin Lu, Shanghai. I will admit that this is not the best bowl of beef noodle soup I have ever had in my life, but there’s something that was comforting time after time going here. I love the ambiance. I love that it reminds me of home (meaning, home home, not just the U.S.). I love that it’s clean. I love that I never got food poisoning here. It was my escape away from China, ironically, just momentarily.

In case you’re wondering, Master Kong’s noodles is also up there. Flavor-wise I actually strongly prefer Master Kong (as everyone who knew me in Shanghai knows), but overall, Noodle Bull wins the spot because I can’t post something for which I don’t have a picture for! And the reason why I don’t have a picture is becuase Master Kong doesn’t let you take pictures of their food (and I did finally have that 100-rmb bowl of noodles which was out-of-this-world amazing — fatty, fall-off-the-bone beef!!! Thank you Annie & Bob for treating me and E!!!).

红烧牛肉刀削面 (Beef Noodle Soup with Knife-Cut Noodles)

4. Mangosteen from a street vendor in Shanghai. How is it that I never knew about this delicious fruit? It is amazing — all of its succulent, tender white meat. I love how it peels open via a bit of pressure and splitting it open. It’s pretty cute too. But if you let it ripen too much, it gets really hard and impossible to open.


4. Mapo Tofu (蔴坡豆腐) from Di Shui Dong (滴水洞 ) on Maoming Nan Lu, Shanghai. How did mapo tofu ever make it onto my list? This dish forever changed my perception of mapo tofu as an Americanized version of Chinese food. Di Shui Dong, perhaps my favorite restaurant in Shanghai, perfects this with a hefty amount of spiciness and meatiness. Absolutely perfect over rice.

蔴坡豆腐 (Mapo Tofu)

5. Cold Chicken with Spicy Oil (口水鸡) from Spice Spirit (麻辣诱惑) on Huaihai Lu, Shanghai. I love this dish nearly everywhere, but I think I love it most at Spice Spirit. I first had Spice Spirit in Beijing, since one of our restaurant locations was right across the walkway from it in Sanlitun. It’s super, super spicy, but one of those very “开胃” (“appetite opening”) dishes that you can’t stop eating in spite of the numbing and spicy flavors.

口水鸡 (Cold Chicken with Spicy Oil)

6. Spicy Fried Chicken (辣子鸡) from Di Shui Dong (滴水洞 ) on Maoming Nan Lu, Shanghai. Also another dish that I love almost everywhere I went to have it in China. Note, I said in China. It isn’t the same at all in Sichuan restaurants in the States. Di Shui Dong is technically Hunan food, too, so I think technically shouldn’t be as spicy as Sichuan places, but it’s definitely spicier than any Sichuan version I’ve had in the U.S.

辣子鸡 (Spicy Fried Chicken)

7. Gelato from La Creme Milano on Shaanxi Lu, Shanghai. This place is run by Italians, and it’s really cute and chic. They also do delivery. One time, E and I ordered 200 rmb worth of yogurt and mango flavored gelato (my two favorite flavors there probably), and devoured it in about two to three days. Perfect in the midst of Shanghai summer, but equally desirable in the middle of wet Shanghai winters.

Caramel & Yogurt Gelato

8. Dali Chicken with Garlic & Veggies from Lost Heaven, Shanghai. This place is a bit pricier than the other places I mentioned above — and more high-end — but really good Yunnan food. (Like I know what Yunnan food is supposed to taste like…) But really, it’s very good for what now serves as my basis for Yunnan-flavor food. I love the interior of this place too. This is from the location on the Bund, but they also have a location on Gaoyao Lu. I couldn’t take a very good picture because it’s really dark inside.

Dali Chicken with Garlic & Veggies

9. Coffee Pop from Ele in Korea town, New York City. Need I say more? Two of my favorite things, once again, combined ingeniously to create a miraculous dessert! Coffee and Sprite! What a winner. Equally delicious when made at home (and cheaper, too).

coffee pop

10. Army stew (budae jjigae) from Nolboo Restaurant in Ansan, Korea. No list is complete without Korea to represent. This was the highlight of my meals in Korea. It was apparently a dish concocted during the Korean War, a dish that combined canned foods from U.S. army soldiers to the Koreans, including things like spam and hot dogs, with their more traditional Korean stews. Read more about it on Wikipedia.

south korea - day 1 - ansan

And that’s the list! What’re your top ten of twenty ten?


kyochon chicken & friends

August 7, 2010

in Eat,Play

Flying Octopus

After the delicious laksa lunch and hangout with coworkers, I met up with J & B to walk around Pudong and make our way over to Kyochon Chicken. I’ve been wanting to try this place out for months now. Apparently, it’s a chain and also available in New York so I’ll still be able to get my chicken fix if my heart so desires.

We ordered 4 different flavors — honey, original, bbq, and hot & spicy (this is also the order of my most favorite to least favorite). It wasn’t that hot & spicy was bad, but dang, it was true to its name. I could only eat 2, while J downed the rest (along with half my Sprite, half B’s coke, and his own full cup of coke, haha. Good times.

Kyochon Chicken

J & B are the original two of the three (the other being E) who introduced me to Shanghai and brought me around, and eventually convinced me after a rough 6 weeks of non-stop rain in the heat of summer in 2009 that I should move to Shanghai. The resulting emotion and experience was a mixture of fun, annoyance with crap weather, and the added joy of having more cool new friends. Overall, I’m happy I moved though I did miss Beijing at times. Here we are at some random Taiwanese restaurant we went to just to get shaved ice:

J & B

I leave you with a picture of B. Look at that eagerness and pure concentration to attack that mound of ice! Intense! And then the resulting happiness.

Shaved Ice

I’ll miss you guys, at least until you both move to New York!

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[Sorry the pictures are yellow and I'm too lazy to adjust the colors right now.]

On Thursday night, bobopang picked me up in front of Le Creme Milano for some gelato and we headed off to Simon’s Test Kitchen for some dinner right before our 99 rmb racials at Ouyi Spa. All the food we ordered was pretty darn good, and delicately made. I especially liked the pork & shrimp dumplings in the spinach wrap.

Spinach Pork & Shrimp Dumplings

The beef noodle soup was also really satisfying (I have a soft spot for beef noodle soup). Even the cold dishes we got — pickled cucumber and shredded tofu — had the perfect amount of taste and spice to it. We also got the Sichuan-style dumplings with the carrot wrap (not pictured cuz that picture didn’t come out clear), but we both liked the pork & shrimp version better.

Pickled Cucumbers

Shredded Tofu

Beef Noodle Soup



August 4, 2010

in Eat

El Cactus

Justin & I met up for dinner at Kin on Maoming Nan Lu, at the recommendation of C this Wednesday night (after I got yet another 90-minute foot and 60-minute body massage). The storefront is sorta hip, street wear clothes. There’s a DJ booth too for local kids to test out their skills. I probably just messed up the story that C told me, but anyway… behind the storefront is a nice little cafe-ish area. We got mushroom soup (really yummy) and the pork belly sandwich (super yummy).

Mushroom Soup


I’d recommend both items! The straw fries (I don’t really know what they are really called but that seems fitting) were delish.

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95-degree expo madness

July 31, 2010

in Eat,Play

[Warning: this is a long post.]

We finally got around to going to the Shanghai 2010 Expo today! We’ve been putting this trip off for a long time, hoping the crowds would die down, but it seems that it’s roughly half a million people going in every day, any day, rain or shine, weekday or weekend. In our case, we got “lucky” with plenty of beautiful sunshine and pretty unlucky with 95 degrees with a bit of humidity. Nasty! All we really wanted to do all day was eat ice cream (which we did twice, but we really could have had more).

Sniper Game

Here’s us on the way to the Expo. This kid (the one that’s hunched over E) asked me to move from my seat so he could watch E play the sniper game on Panda’s iPhone. Cute kid. I learned how to say “Mission Completed” (任务成功) because the kid asked me if I completed my mission after I finished level 1 of the sniper game.

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lost heaven at the bund

July 27, 2010

in Eat,Play

This past weekend was a blur as we moved all our stuff from our apartment in Jingan to Hongkou where I’ll be living out my last few days in Shanghai! It sucks to always be on the move — I’ve never rented an apartment in China for more than 9 months at a time — so moving to New York eventually in less than a month or so will serve as a nice change in some ways. But the good thing about always being on the move is that you learn to travel light! I’m hoping to stuff all my possessions into one large and one medium suitcase (not including carry-ons) for the trip back to California.

Lost Heaven at the Bund

Last night, E & I went to Lost Heaven at the Bund for dinner! It’s E’s favorite restaurant in Shanghai, and definitely among my top favorites here as well. Here we are, eagerly awaiting our food.

@Lost Heaven

@Lost Heaven

Isn’t it pretty inside? I’ll make a list of top food hits in a later post, but for now, I’ll leave you with a single picture of food, the Dali Chicken. It’s the best dish anyway aside from the vegetarian egg rolls, but the picture I took of the egg rolls looks totally jaundiced because of the poor lighting so I’ll spare your appetite by not sharing that photo. In case you’re wondering, they serve Yunnan food at Lost Heaven, the authenticity of which I cannot vouch for, but the food is delicious here.

Dali Chicken with Garlic & Veggies

It’s pretty dark inside despite how it appears in the pictures above, so it was nearly impossible to get good shots and I gave up as the food was begging to be eaten. (You can kind of see the egg rolls peaking out on the right there.)

For dessert, I had this coconut milk with strawberry ice cream that was really good. I tried to get a good picture of it, but it turned out like crap, so you’ll just have to trust that I’m right in saying it was delicious.

Now, onward to the Bund! I’ve never really shown or had a strong appreciation for anything in Shanghai, maybe apart from the wide availability of pearl tea and zong zi (the phase for the former food item being short-lived after I consumed ridiculous amounts of it the first month I lived here), but I figured since we made it out to the Bund already, we might as well walk around. I just don’t like the crowds, and the lights and busyness aren’t all that appealing. But it is at least prettier at night than it is in the daytime. Maybe the Bund would be made better if all those beautiful buildings behind me were made for shopping instead of being a whole street of banks. Now that’s an idea, but I digress…

@ the Bund

@the Bund

People sometimes ask me if I’ll miss Shanghai. To be perfectly honest, I won’t miss the city much at all, but I will miss the friends I’ve made here (though I’m sure I’ll see them all again in the future). I’ll leave you with a picture of an imitation of the NY Wall Street bull at the Bund. I couldn’t get a good picture of it, or with it, because, as you can see, there are Chinese people all over the place trying to take a picture of it.

Imitation Wall Street Bull