Chinese food in China Part 1: Shanghai

About a week ago I returned from China, where I had been on holiday for about 3 weeks. I did and experienced a lot while I was there but one of the highlights of my trip was definitely the food!!! Months before leaving I had began experimenting with Chinese food with a friend of mine and we even hosted a Chinese dinner together. It went well according to our guests but I felt like a headless chicken the whole night! I had also gone to a Chinese restaurant or two with my Mandarin classmates and our teacher and discovered a few new dishes. However nothing was quite like being in China. The food was so much better there, though that is to be expected.

We got to eat Cantonese, Korean and Chinese food. Our first two weeks were in Shanghai where daily we ate at the Shanghai Normal University campus restaurants or at the fast food places in town. Over weekends we would eat at restaurants in the city. In Guanzhou, the second city we visited for about 4 days, we ate at restaurants and at a couple of fast food places.

They have quite interesting flavours in their cuisine and have the most odd combinations! I vowed to try everything I could at least once and I did! The most bizarre concept to me was the jasmine milk tea with fermented red beans. That I do not comprehend. It tasted ok though, its not something that would make you hurl but it is strange. I will begin my food recap with the Shanghai food….

Breakfast! Jasmine green tea and pork dumplings (baozi)
Breakfast! Jasmine green tea and pork dumplings (baozi)

Above is what I typically had for breakfast and its total cost was about 13 pula/$1.67. I would share the dumplings with a friend because 5 for one were too much. When in town or in the city, Coco was my favorite place to get tea mostly because they were cheap and everywhere! You never had to go too far to find a Coco. My favorite tea though was the kumquat and lemon tea from a French Croissant shop. I love anything citrus related and that was the creme de la creme of teas for me! They also had a grapefruit tea but it was a cold tea and since we were in winter I favored the warm teas instead. The Chinese LOVE their tea! It’s the only thing you get for free in restaurants, cold water you have to pay for.

If we were at the shops near our hotel, lunch was usually McDonald’s or KFC. The KFC menu there is quite Chinese….they use Chinese sauces for the burgers so the sweet and sour wrap is not just sauce and pineapples but soy sauce and so on. The Chinese version of sweet and sour. But I loved the difference. McDonald’s on the other hand was the basic standard McDonald’s you would get anywhere in the world.

Weekends were the best! I would eagerly look forward to the restaurant meals.

Green tea
Fried rice
Fried eggplant
Fried eggplant
Steamed buns and pork
Steamed buns and pork
Sweet and sour pork
Sweet and sour pork
Tofu and minced beef
Tofu and minced beef
I think this was some kind of cabbage and egg soup.
I think this was some kind of cabbage and egg soup.

One of my favourite meals was one I ate at a Korean restaurant on the University campus. I went with some friends from my travel group who were very picky when it came to Asian food but even they loved the Korean food.

Rice with pork and veggies, cabbage soup, green beans and kimchi.
Kimchi rice with an egg, green beans, kimchi and cabbage soup

The meal below I had at another University campus. I am not sure what the food in the top left corner of the plate is and it tasted quite odd, like a very mushy potato. In the top right is fried chicken with ground nuts, bottom left is eggs and bottom right is of course rice.IMG_0095

And here ends part 1 of Chinese food in China. In part two I will recap a visit to the food market and lunch we had at the house of a Chinese family.


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