Heating up the Hunan house @ Di Shui Dong, Shanghai

On a rare Friday date night, we found ourselves eating possibly the most unromantic food known to man. Hunan food at Di Shui Dong (滴水洞) in the French Concession.

And whilst we knew that Hunan food is hot, we walked away realising that dry hot (干辣) which is typical of Hunan food (as opposed to a Sichuan numbing hot) is pretty bad ass. No pun intended with my choice of word just then.

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When it comes to Hunan food, Di Shui Dong is one of a few more famous Hunan places in Shanghai. The restaurant is unpretentious and incredibly busy and having not made a reservation, we waited a good 40 minutes for a table to free.  Continue reading

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A big plate of chicken at Yakexi, Jing’an

It’s pretty easy to get sick of Shanghainese food. Whilst good, it’s sweet, sticky and overly oily. Luckily living in Shanghai means that we have the option of plenty of other regional Chinese and western food.

One of our go to cuisines is Uyghur or food from Xinjiang. Characterised by mutton, lamb, cumin, red pepper, potatoes and tomatoes, it’s a perfect combination if you are dire need of a protein and spice hit. It also has a completely different flavour profile to Chinese food which, can very easily get same-same after awhile.

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It was Saturday and we weren’t sure whether to go out for dinner or not. We had stumbled across a Shanghai outlet of HK’s Dim Dim Sum (more about that in another post!) and we’re still slightly full from our 4pm snack.

By 8:30pm we somehow we motivated ourself to walk down to Yakexi, one of a handful of really good Xinjiang restaurants in Shanghai. Arriving way after the Saturday night peak hour of 6pm, the restaurant was still busy, but with crowds beginning to part.  Continue reading

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Dim Dim Sum, Shanghai

It’s now been a short 2 months in Shanghai and our food knowledge is slowly but surely growing.  In all honestly we havent really been that overwhelmed with the western food on offer. Given that the prices are at par with the west, I’m almost better off saving my pennies and flying back home or to Europe for a proper feed.

However we’ve been pleasantly pleased about the quality of the Canto and Japanese food here. Cantonese food is simply comfort food for me. Which is slightly bizarre, as I have havent exactly grown up in a Canto household.

IMG-20130629-WA0008 Following a grocery haul at M&S on Nanjing Road (puff pastry anyone?), we stumbled across dimdim sum. Yes, the very same branch of the famed HK institution. A few weeks later, we were back and ready to find out whether it indeed matched up to our HK expectations.  Continue reading

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My search for South-East Asian groceries in Shanghai

One of the greatest things about moving to a new city is the fact that you are able to discover new foods and adapt to new ways of living. Whilst Shanghai is far from a hardship city, one of the most challenging things has been figuring out where to buy groceries. There has been much written about the lack of availability of western groceries, and whilst Shanghai is no Waitrose, if you look hard enough, it does nearly have pretty much everything you need. ‘Looking hard enough’ does involve going to multiple stores to cook a single meal, but hey, that’s Shanghai. However for us, a couple that eats as much lemongrass as we do greek yoghurt, what has been most challenging is seeking out south east asian groceries in Shanghai.

Whilst I complain, I have loved every second of visiting expat supermarket after expat supermarket to see what each store has. To me it feels almost like unwrapping Christmas presents as each store has a completely different set of stock and no store in the same.

In this post, all I really want to do is share where I have found some hard to find South-East asian ingredients as I am sure I am not the only one on the hunt for (reasonably priced) south-east asian groceries. The best and most reasonable places is a combination of Carrefour and Pines. My only advice for people seeking these groceries – if you see it, snap it up as often, there is only 1 or 2 of these items on the shelf.

I try and avoid shopping at Cityshop as much as I can as I feel completely ripped off every time I do. As I learn more about Shanghai, I will surely expand on this listing. If you have any suggestions where to buy more south-east asian groceries, please do leave a comment.

Happy shopping!

Thai

  • Mae Ploy Red Thai Curry Paste (Pines) – 1000g Y40
  • Shrimp paste (Pines, Parkson)
  • Tamarind paste (Pines)
  • Fresh galangal (Pines and cityshop)
  • Fresh pea eggplant (Pines)
  • Fresh kaffir lime leaves (Pines, Parkson)
  • Thai basil (Parkson) – Packet Y7
  • Lemongrass stems (Parkson 3 stems Y5, also cityshop but I remember being expensive)
  • Fish sauce – (Carrefour, Pines, Parkson) – Y20 750ml

Indonesian/Malaysian

  • Fresh kaffir lime leaves (Pines, Parkson)
  • Kecap manis (Pines) – ABC brand 500ml Y34
  • Siracha (Parkson) – 250ml Y18
  • Frozen roti (all supermarkets) – I have been buying Chinese brand Shallot pankcake and using as a roti Y6-8

Vietnamese

  • Rice paper sheets (Pines, Parkson) 500g Y20-Y30
  • Rice vermacelli (Pines, Parkson) – (the bean/mung vermacelli sold in wet markets/local supermarkets is not rice vermicelli) Y4-10
  • Fish sauce (Carrefour, Pines, Parkson) – no vietnamese brands, thai brands only 750ml for Y20
  • Lemongrass stems (Parkson 3 stems Y5, also cityshop but I remember being expensive)
  • Herbs ? I have only been using ordinary mint as I cannot find any Vietnamese herbs
  • Bean sprouts – Wet market (Y0.5 per 500g)

 

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Dessert heaven @ Kei Kee, Yuen Long

I’ve never really had much of a sweet tooth but this month in Hong Kong has seen me going out of my way to indulge in a post-meal snack far too often.

In search for amazing dessert, my relatives took me to a famous dessert place in Yuen Long called Kei Kee B Jai Leung Fun (佳記甜品B仔涼粉). Kei Kee is a dessert shop that specialises in herbal grass jelly but serves up an array of other hot snacks as well.

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On a Sunday afternoon, the place was absolutely packed and being a nice day there were plenty of tables and chairs outside. The crowds are so dense that no sooner does a table empties, it is occupied again within seconds. Continue reading

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Dried fried beef hor fun @ Ho Hung Kee

Hong Kong, home to a huge array of cheap local restaurants, some of which, for some reason or another have gained themselves a Michelin star. One Dim Sum, Ho Hung Kee and Tim Ho Wan are a few of these. The question is are they worthy? Surely the fact that the Michelin guide is handing out stars so easily in Hong Kong diminishes the credibility of the guide? Yet the crowds still flock. And I still flock… to see what all the fuss is about.

Today I visited Ho Hung Kee, a local noodle and congee shop awarded a star in 2011 few years ago based on the quality of the Beef Hor Fun (干炒牛河). The place is a no-frills, sharing table joint which has traded in the same location since 1946.

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I ordered the Beef Hor fun (at a whopping $82 HKD). Continue reading

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