Street Scenes in Shanghai January 17, 2012Posted by hslu in China, Restaurants, Shanghai, Travel.
Tags: Asia, Bund, Business and Economy, China, Expo 2010, 靜安區, Industrial, Puxi, Shanghai
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Just a few interesting scenes in Shanghai
城隍廟 in the dark January 17, 2012Posted by hslu in China, Chinese, Chinese Food, Restaurants, Shanghai, Travel.
Tags: Asia, Bund, China, 豫園商區, Facebook, Golden Arches, M1NT, McDonald, Shanghai, Xiaolongbao, 南翔小龍包, 城隍廟
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城隍廟 in the dark
Two days after we have arrived at Shanghai, we woke up at 12:30 am and couldn’t go back to sleep. Instead of staying inside the cramped hotel room with a 32” flat panel on the wall, we decided to go out and get something to eat. The hotel staff suggested a 24-hour restaurant but the food there was so bad that it wasn’t even worth writing about.
Even though it was about 2:30 in the morning we couldn’t sleep because of jetlag, we decided to tour the city after in the dark. Since 城隍廟 was only 15 minutes away according to a sign posted in the lobby of the hotel, we walked south along 四川中路 and explored the city under dim street lights.
Along the way, we walked by a night club called M1NT，a 包子店 just opened for the day and an empty and almost eerie 豫園。On the way back to the hotel before dawn, we also stopped by a 24-hour McDonald’s to get some breakfast too，
When we were about 2 to 3 blocks away from 城隍廟, we saw 10 to 15 taxis lining up around a street corner waiting for the last chance to get a fare before the end of their night shift. But why here? There was nothing here except closed shops. Well, about a ½ block away there was a high-rise hotel with a bar called M1NT and the taxis were waiting for M1NT to close for the day. Based on the p[eop-le walking out of the bar, M1NT was frequented by mostly male foreigners with their young and flashy female companions. These young girls dressed in eye-catching tops, ultra short skirts, dangling earrings, name brand “fake?” bags and 3" high heels. A mobile food stand was making good business selling street food to these half-drunk guys who probably didn't know what they were eating at about 3 in the morning.
Many of the guys were rowdy and drunk but they certainly didn’t forget to flirt with their female companions or a few other women who were standing by trying to make a few more bucks before calling it a day or night. I hues the oldest business in the world never dies.
Across from M1NT, two young men in their late 20’s or early 30’s had already started working at a 包子店 preparing the dough for 包子 and 饅頭. They won’t start selling their first 包子 for at least an hour and a half from now but they had to get the dough started before 4:00 in the morning. The young and handsome guys told us that their first customer usually came as early as 5:30 am and they usually close in mid-afternoon after all the 包子 were sold out. I wished them well and hoped them doing great business for the days to come.
When tourists ask for direction to 城隍廟 in Shanghai, they are actually asking for direction to 豫園商區 near 城隍廟. 城隍廟 “cheng2 huang2 miao4” is a Taoist temple a block or two from 豫園 “yu2 yuan2,”a famous traditional Chinese rock and water garden. 豫園商區 “yu2 yuan2 shang1 qv1” is a business district encompasses several blocks around 豫園 about a mile south of The Bund and 南京路步行街. When we got there, 豫園商區 had long been closed. The lights were off and all stores were closed. The never-ending crowd during the day was finally gone and the over-worked and under-paid workers could finally go home and rest their tired feet.
The doors of the famous 南翔小龍包 “nan2 xiang2 xiao3 long2 bao1” were closed。Even though the kitchen lights were dark and the team of robo-小籠包-makers had long gone, I could still image them tirelessly making thousands of 小籠包 one after another to satisfy the appetites of an endless line of hungry tourists from all over China.
九曲橋 “jiu3 qv1 qiao2,” or a bridge with nine turns, had no other pedestrians expect us walking under dimmed lights from buildings nearby. The bridge was made with white marble pave stones with beautiful designs which were hidden from view when the bridge was occupied by hundreds of tourists.
Some of the stones have various floral designs with following inscriptions for each month of the year:
一月 水仙 “yi1 yue4 shui3 xian1”– January Lily
二月 杏花 “er4 yue4 xing4 hua1”– February Apricot
三月 桃花 “san1 yue4 tao2 hua1”– March Peach blossom
四月 杜鵑 “si4 yue4 du4 guan1”- April Azalea
五月 牡丹 “wu3 yue4 mu3 dan1” – May Peony
六月梔子 “liu4 yue4 zhi4 zi3”- June Gardenia
十月 芙蓉 “shi2 yue4 fu2 rong2”- October Hibiscus
十一月 茶花 “shi2 yi1 yue3 cha2 hua1”– November Camellia
十二月 蠟梅 “shi2 er4 yue4 la4 mei2”– December Wintersweet Flower or Chimonanthus praecox
On the way back to our hotel, the McDonald’s on a side street of the 南京路步行街 was still open for business. We stopped by to get some pancakes and Egg Mac Muffin but they didn’t serve pancakes and their Egg Mac Muffin just tasted different. They didn’t have orange juice either. In a corner of the store, there were about 10 middle school boys and girls in three or four clusters crushing on chairs and tables. I wondered why McDonald’s management allowed this to happen at this store. Were there other kids spending their time at other McDonald’s in Shanghai at this time? If these kids didn’t sleep here, where did they go instead? How come they weren’t at home? Did their parents know where their kids were？Weren’t their parents worried？It seemed to me that this was a problem that begs society’s and McDonald’s attention.
We also walked around The Bund to see what the place was like without tourists and dazzling lights.
By now we’ve been out for about 5 hours and it’s time for a nap before our day got started.
鬥牛士牛肉麵 January 17, 2012Posted by hslu in China, Chinese Food, Food, Restaurants, Shanghai.
Tags: Beef, Beef noodle soup, Black pepper, Broth, China, 鬥牛士牛肉麵, Noodle, Pudong, Taiwan, 招牌牛肉麵, 涼拌干絲, 滷肉飯
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While doing business near the Big Thumb Square or 大拇指廣場 in Pudong, we got to try beef noodle soup at 鬥牛士牛肉麵 “dou4 niu2 shi4 niu2 rou4 mian4”or bull fighter beef noodle in beef broth. What got our attention was the name of the restaurant: 臺灣鬥牛士牛肉麵 implying that it came from Taiwan. We wanted to compare its beef noodle with many varieties we have tried in Taiwan, US and China.
The restaurant was small with no more than 40 seats; about 10 sets of wooden tables and benches. The place was clean and the staff of several young girls and boys (in their early 20’s) was efficient and friendly. An open kitchen was located in the back against the back wall. We could see the kitchen staff working through glass panels. There were two or three people working when we were there. They didn’t look like chef to me because they were too young. I guessed the beef broth was done off site probably at a central location. All the kitchen helper needed to do was to cook the noodle and add beef broth according to customers’ order.
We ordered a small bowl of their 招牌牛肉麵 (house special beef noodle,) 滷肉飯 (rice topped with ground pork) and a small dish of 涼拌干絲 “lian2 ban4 gan1 si1” or shredded dried bean curd with celery; all common dishes that we have tried many times. The bill came to RMB 58 or about $9.50.
Well, the beef noodle was very good except the noodle could be a little better: the broth wasn’t too spicy nor was it too hot from the hot pepper oil floating on top of the broth. There was a good amount of soy bean paste in the broth but the taste wasn’t overwhelming. The six to eight bite-size pieces of tenderloin beef was very tender yet still chewy. It wasn’t over-cooked like what we usually get from many restaurants in the DC metro area: these restaurants probably left the beef simmering in the pot a little too long. I actually liked to know how they did it. As good as the beef and broth were, the noodle could be a little better because it was slightly over-cooked and wasn’t Q enough. I thought the protein content of the flour was low and the restaurant probably ordered their noodles from a supplier instead of did it in house. I called this 美中不足 “mei3 zhong1 bu1 zu2,” or a fly in the ointment if you will, too bad.
滷肉飯 was okay and it was nothing special to write home to. 涼拌干絲 was bland and 干絲 was a little tough.
All in all, even though RMB 32 for a small bowl of beef noodle was a little more than I could get from other comparable restaurants in the same general area, I don’t mind go back to 鬥牛士牛肉麵 and try other dishes on their menu.
The restaurant does offer various types of beef and two or three types of beef broth. I might want to order a large bowl next time too.
Shanghai Manhattan Bund Business Hotel (上海曼哈顿外滩商务酒店) January 13, 2012Posted by hslu in China, Chinese Food, Food, Restaurants, Shanghai, Travel.
Tags: Asia, Bund, Business and Economy, China, Fairmont Peace Hotel, Oriental Pearl Tower, Pudong, Puxi, Shanghai, Shanghai Manhattan Bund Business Hotel, 南京路步行街, 上海曼哈顿外滩商务酒店
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On our way from Shanghai PVG to our hotel in Puxi in early November 2011, I was able to give out tips to a few foreign fellow travelers on how to ride 地铁 to get around 上海as if I know my ways around here. I was very happy that I could offer some help though. Well, I better be because I have been here close to ten times since December 1985.
The hotel was Manhattan Bund Business Hotel (上海 曼哈顿 (外滩) 商务 酒店) which is only one block from The Bund and 5 minutes from 南京路步行街. It is behind the famous Fairmont Peace Hotel on The Bund. Our room was very small which was barely large enough for a bed, a bath room, a small desk and enough space on the floor for our luggage. But it was clean and everything worked just fine. Wireless internet was available in the room and in the lobby. It has a small café serving coffee and some light snack. The front desk staff and bell captain were both very friendly and the room only cost ~$45 a day. A great value for the location!
We walked around 南京路步行街 and found new stores opening up even in such a high-traffic, extremely busy tourist spot. I was surprised at the invincible force of capitalism in a communist country. A place called 大娘水餃 “da4 niang2 shui3 jiao3” or “Auntie Dumplings,” which I like to try but haven’t had the chance to, had apparently closed its door. Another cluster of small stores had changed to a brand new huge Apple store.
Another area at the intersection of 河南中路 and 南京東路 has changed to a new department store called Henderson Metropolitan. It appeared that it was aimed at higher income clients because we only saw named brand and high class stores in there. There were a few restaurants on the fifth and sixth floors and they had only opened for six days. We checked out the menu at one restaurant and saw their prices comparable to those at expensive restaurants in the US, too expensive for locals and probably 98% of the tourists at 南京東路步行街. We’ll see how long they can last.
As we walked away from the restaurant, a mid-aged woman said to us:
In essence, she said that due to high rental rates here, the restaurants had to charge you an arm and a leg to survive here.
I nodded my head in total agreement and said ＂Where would you go for authentic Shanghai cuisine around here?”
She said: “我在這兒打工的。他們的菜又貴又不好吃。下面的餐館比這家要便宜多了。山西路那邊也有好多家也蠻道地的。＂
It turned out that she worked at that restaurant and were equally amazed at the extremely high prices. She told us to check out restaurants along 山西路 or Shanxi Road just a few blocks away.
I asked for a name but she couldn’t remember. We duly heed her advice and walked out of the shopping center with her.
Sure enough, 山西路 has eight or ten restaurants and many of them were still opened for business. We had 小籠包， 餛飩 and 青菜。 Sure enough, the price was very reasonable and it cost us no more than 50 RMB or $7.50 US, for the whole meal。
The Manhattan Bund Business Hotel was an ideal location because it has many shops, restaurants and fruit stands within a few blocks of the hotel.
We could recharge our sim card for my cell phone at a cigarette store. We could get 素菜包子 “su4 cai4 bao1 zi3” or vegetarian buns at US $0.20 each. If we wanted pastry and coffee, an 85oC store is right next to the 賣包子的 “mai4 bao1 zi3 de1” or the bun shop. But we’d be paying US $1.20 to US $3.00 for a pastry and another US $1.50 for a cup of coffee. A busy but clean restaurant offered 稀飯 “xi1 fan4,” fresh 油條 “you2 tiao2,” 燒餅 “shao1 bing3,” 甜豆漿 “tian2 dou4 jiang1” or sweet soy milk, 餛飩湯 “hun2 dun2 tang1 or wonton soup and 飯團 “fan4 tuan2” or rice ball for less than US $2.50. Apple store was only 5 minutes away. Countless stores offered cloth, pants, coats, fake silk scarf, shoes at bargain basement prices. High price shops such as Coach and Armani are but a few blocks down the street.
The Bund and the Huangpu River were only a block away. We got to see The Bund at 2 in the morning, 5:30 AM or at 10:30 PM if we chose to. Many people flied kites starting from as early as 4:30 AM. Their kites were equipped with lights so that we could see blinking lights as high as 500’. By dawn, they would take down their night kites and replaced with a kite for day time. In the evening, tourist boats traveled up and down the Huangpu River. At 2 in the morning, there were only barges and ships big and small coming and going quietly.
We also got to see 南京東路步行街 after midnight. A crowded promenade gave way to a quiet street with only a few tourists who were just coming out of bars nearby. People getting off from their evening shift were finding their ways to go home. A team of at least 20 workers cleaned the street using big hoses such as the ones used by fire fighters. They told us that they’d do this every night. No wonder the place looked clean even with thousands of tourists from China and foreign countries.
An ad company changed an ad which was at least 60’ by 80’ in dimension. They could do it within an hour with a team of three workers and a team captain. The guy told me that they do this all the time and their business was very profitable because so many business wanted to have visibility here.
All in all, we liked the hotel even though it was a bit small. I was told that we got a very good deal from either Agoda or Expedia because people who came in without a reservation would have to pay the list price at about US $80 or so for a day. However, I suspect that they would get a bigger room though.
Air Canada – Toronto to Shanghai December 30, 2011Posted by hslu in China, Food, Shanghai, Travel.
Tags: Air Canada, American Airlines, Canada, Costco, Cup Noodle, Shanghai, Taiwan, Toronto, Toronto Pearson International Airport
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American Airline and United treat their customers like a herd of cattle, especially those in the cheap section of their Pacific route flights. I don’t like them even though their prices are usually cheaper than offered by other airlines.
For our November 2011 trip to Taiwan and Shanghai, I chose Air Canada just to see what they have to offer. Their price was ~5% more than what was offered by AA and United. A two- to three-hour stopover at Toronto airport wasn’t too bad either.
The food served on Air Canada’s Pacific route was better than the junk served by AA and United and Air Canada offered free wine if you ask for it.
The flight attendants are very friendly and usually treat us low paying customers with a smiling face.
In general, I like Air Canada and I don’t mind taking it again for our future trips to Far eastern.
However, there is something about Canada to gripe about:
- A cheap ear phone will cost you $3 on Toronto to and from DC flights.
- I eat instant noodles from time to time: late night snack when the fridge is empty, too tired to cook a real meal and occasional craving for the unique taste of the semi-firm noodles.
But eating cup noodle at 37,000 feet, twice in three weeks, was a first for me on our Air Canada flighst to and back from Shanghai from Toronto.
Although the instant noodle was nothing special to remember of and the brand was the one I will never buy, the experience was quite memorable not for the taste of the noodle or the soup but for the fact that Air Canada comes up with this ultra cheap ideal on their oriental flights.
I also did some checking about the price of the instant noodle at our local Costco and I was surprised that Air Canada even has the audacity to serve this stuff to its oriental flight customers:
$6.75 for a case of 24 or precisely $0.28125 for a 2.5 oz cup.
That’s a little more than a quarter per customer. Cheap!
Please, Air Canada, don’t cheapen the maple leaf with this kind of cheap stuff.
I hope I don’t have to see this in my future flights.
The best orange I have ever tasted April 27, 2011Posted by hslu in China, Food, Shanghai, Travel.
Tags: China, Motel 168, Pudong, Zhangjiang
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Bought near Motel 168 in Zhangjiang, Pudong, China.
About 1.5″ in diameter. Very VERY sweet. Very juicy. Very thin skin. Easy to peel. No residual of pith at all.
Definitely the best orange that we have ever tasted.
It came from Guangxi province and is probably called 金沙橘 if I remember it correctly.
上海一号私房菜 April 26, 2011Posted by hslu in China, Chinese Food, Food, Restaurants, Shanghai.
Tags: Asia, Beijing, Business and Economy, China, Huangpu River, Shanghai, Shopping, The Bund, 旗袍, 淮海南路, 上海一号私房菜
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上海一号私房菜 “shang4 hai3 yi1 hao4 si1 fang2 cai4″ is a very unique restaurant. It is not very far from 淮海南路 “huai2 hai3 nan2 lu4,” one of the busiest and most famous shopping areas of the entire Shanghai.
I didn’t know about the restaurant and had no idea what the restaurant was like when I saw the bright neon sign on top of this building. We were just finishing window shopping along 淮海南路 and I was in the mood of having some authentic 上海菜 “shang4 hai3 cai4″ before going back to DC. When I saw the sign, I said to myself that this looked like a top class restaurant and I took Bao walked directly to there because it was close to 10 pm and I was afraid that the restaurant was about to close.
Well, the restaurant was very busy and we had to wait for a while. I was relieved because we’d have plenty of time to enjoy our meals.
The restaurant occupies the top floor of a 10 to 12 story building with marble floors, large paintings on the walls, gold-colored columns throughout the dinning area, large dinning hall with at least 50 tables and many private rooms for intimate parties and family gatherings.
The waiting area is almost as big as the dinning room of some restaurants and the hostess wear ankle-length Chinese 旗袍 “qi2 pao2″ and a white feather like jacket. The decoration is old Shanghai, the ambiance is warm and I know the restaurant is doing great business in order to support this kind of 排场 “pai2 chang3.”
Well, this is the way I like it too.
After we sat down, we were handed over two thick menus and I almost had more fun going through the menu than eating their dishes. There were simply too many to choose from.
The menu has 131 pages. In addition to pictures of hundreds of dishes, the glossy menu also included many pictures of Shanghai; 外滩 “wai4 tan1″ The Bund, 黄浦江 “huang2 pu3 jiang1,” barges on the river, famous and not so famous people, city streets as they were in the early 1920 and 1930′s, movie stars, 青楼女子 “qing1 lou2 nv3 zi1i,” famous Chinese opera actors and actresses, old kitchen utensils and stories about Shanghai from the early 1900′s. I took my time going over the pages and the waitress left me alone as if she knew I wasn’t ready to order yet.
The menu is divided into 11 sections:
1. Chef’s top 10 private menu,
2. Cold dishes,
4. Bird nest, abalone and shark fins,
5. Shrimp and crabs,
7. River fish and shrimp
8. Fowls and snakes,
9. Pork, Beef and Lamb,
11. Desserts and sweets.
We had a good time there because of the festival atmosphere at the main dinning hall. A Japanese company had their 尾牙 “wei3 ya2″ (Year end banquet dinner for company employees) there. At the end of their dinner, the Japanese boss was forced to sing a song. All he could do was a short Japanese song but it was so bad that all I could say was 不敢恭維 “bu1 gan3 gong1 wei2.” The VP also sang but he didn’t want to pass the mic to the others and everyone there had a great time at boss’s expense.
We also enjoyed our meals but I didn’t have time or the capacity to try more dishes.
The total bill came to RMB 560, or about $85.
If you have a chance visit Shanghai, make sure you try some of the dishes at this restaurant. Go with a few of your friends so that you can have a wide varieties. Their Chinese rice wines and 白酒 “bai2 jiu3″ are very reasonable too.
Interior Decoration in Shanghai March 22, 2011Posted by hslu in China, Shanghai.
Tags: condo, Interior Decoration, Pudong, Shanghai, 浦東, 上海
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We went to an interior decoration store in Shanghai because we bought a small condo and plan to decorate the inside later this year.
上？不上？ March 22, 2011Posted by hslu in China, Shanghai, Travel.
Tags: Shanghai, Subway, 上海
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上海虹橋火車站 February 27, 2011Posted by hslu in China, Shanghai.
Tags: Asia, Business, China, 虹橋火車站, 西塘, high speed rail, Pudong, Shanghai, Suzhou, Transportation and Logistics, 上海
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We came to 虹橋火車站 because we took a day trip to 西塘 about 25 miles from Shanghai.