Culture tips: Chinese Food is Different Here

Saturday, November 25, 2006 7:42
Posted in category The Big Picture

While the world revolves around Shanghai (and yes, those here actually believe that), a large part of the Chinese culture revolves around food and the discussions that occur over a meal.

For many Westerners, we will never fully appreciate the varieties of food that are here, and for those reading a Chinese menu for the first time, the experience can be very daunting. As a student of Chinese in Beijing, I constantly found it frustrating that I was unable to read a menu but I could discuss macroeconomic indicators, yet my friends teaching English who generally only had combat Chinese were able to order like locals…

When visiting China, and especially when visiting suppliers, eating “Chinese” food is something that cannot be avoided (although ….I do have one client that eats only from Starbucks from here), and it should be embraced as “Chinese” food offers an amazing array of flavors.

To get a sense of the offerings in Shanghai, my suggested eateries are:

1) Di Shui Dong56 Maoming Nan Road (by Changle Road) – 6253 2689
By far the best Chinese restaurant in Shanghai, in my opinion, Di Shui Dong offers customers some of the hottest food around from the Hunan Province. Open for 8 years, this is a well known restaurant for locals and has recently gained popularity among foreign residents.

Must order dishes are Ziran Paigu (spicy ribs), Mapo Dofu, and the fried bananas for dessert. Order a couple bottles of beer to wash it down, or a pitcher of fresh watermelon juice

Pricing is very reasonable… 2 people for 15USD.

2) Lost Heaven – Gao you Road (by Fuxing Road)
Only open a couple of weeks, this restaurant wasted no time impressing its clientele with its high quality (moderately priced) Yunnan food. Located in an old villa, the bottom floor is a very comfortable lounge that will become its own attraction.

The province of Yunnan is located in the southwest of China, and the food served offers an interesting fusion of Sichuan (China), Vietnamese, and Thai flavors.

3) South Beauty – 28 Taojiang Road, by Baoqing Road – 6445 2581
Another spicy one, South BEauty has the most famous Sichuan (Chuan cai) in town, and high quality eats come at a high quality price!

Dan Dan noodles are a must as are the sliced pork with ginger….

4) Dong Bei Ren – 1 Shanxi South Road (Near Yan An Middle Road) – 5228 9898
Dong Bei Ren literally translates to North East Person/ People, and that is the area of China from which this restaurant has become famous for among foreigners and locals.

Typically starchy and spicy, the dumplings at Dong Bei Ren are some of the best in town.

5) Charmant – 1418 Huai Hai Middle Road (Near Fuxing Road) – 6431 8107
The restaurant offers a more mild experience of Taiwanese food, and is conveniently located next to Cotton Club for those who are interested in some jazz after dinner.

The menu is in English, so ordering is not a problem – the Gongbao Shrimp are phenominal…and save room for dessert as the Huasheng bingsha (peanut butter ice shavings) is a favorite.

Eating in China can be an adventure, and if planned properly, the adventure is a pleasurable one. Taking the time to taste the various foods of China can often be the best part of a trip, and we hope you enjoy some of the suggestions above.

To learn more about the flavors found in China, you can download our Flavor Map (pdf).

If you are a frequent traveler to the area and have your favorite eatery, please share it by posting a comment.

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