10.11.2012 Shanghai – The Day We Realised It Is Difficult Trying To Be Rick Stein

Righto, we had excitedly watched Rick Stein in Shanghai earlier in the year and had researched where he had gone with the intention of following in his tracks and having scallion pancakes from Mr Wu, chairman Mao pork from Anthony and hairy crabs from a street near by our hostel. How difficult can it be to find a few good places to eat in Shanghai, the mecca of street food in China?

Started off trying to find Mr Wu and his scallion pancakes, we got to the address (after a lot of searching and looking up and down streets and alley ways) only to find a sign which, when google translated, said he had moved about a mile away. 

Undeterred we ploughed on, building up an appetite, and found his smart new shop. We were expecting massive queues so were surprised that there was just a small throng of people around the stall. We stood and waited for a bit, looking in on the hunchbacked King of scallion (spring onions to us) pancakes, as he made the dough, added pork fat, kneaded the dough, added scallions, kneaded the dough, added more pork fat, kneaded the dough, added some pork, kneaded the dough, added more pork fat and then cooked them on the large tray dripping with fat, then they were exposed to the roaring fire underneath to finish them off. 

This is not fast food. 

This is not health food either, not that that bothered us, we were starving.  

This was not to be tasted by us either, as it was 11.15 and the lass taking orders (by writing a number on your hand) was fast asleep next to Mr Wu, when I woke her she indicated that no more orders were being taken, thank you, with a wonderfully dismissive hand gesture. 

An enterprising Chinese youth offered to sell us his pancakes for 100 yuan, we politely declined. Guy did get a photo though.

Okay. We decided to get up earlier tomorrow and not let this deter us from our day of Rick Stein-ness. 

Still hungry we followed The Book (Lonely Planet) and tried a Xiao Long Biao restaurant that came highly recommended as cheap and delicate. It was cheap but definitively not delicate. The staff in the restaurant were just as I was expecting everyone to be in China, curt and rude (in my western eyes). We ate the doughy, tasteless, soupless dumplings and were grateful had spent so little on them. 

So, subway journey to another part of town to look for Chairman Mao pork, and we realise Chinese roads are not labelled or numbered as we would expect. I am sure there is a system however we couldn’t fathom it out. We spent ages walking around the area to conclude that the place had moved and we might as well eat in the restaurant on the former sight of Anthony’s amazing Chairman Maos pork restaurant. Without an English menu we ordered a slow cooked meat looking dish, a meat burger looking dish with rice, and noodles with shrimps and egg. There was no slow cooked meat dish available so we were refunded for that. The meat burger looking dish was cold sliced beef with sweet, sticky hoisin sauce over the top, no rice. The noodles were greasy fried noodles which were tasteless until you added a number of teaspoons of chilli to it, this was accompanied by a glutinous, tasteless, tepid tofu soup which the waitress seeing me try Guy’s decided we needed another bowl of it. We didn’t. Guy ate/ drank both of them. 

It was so disappointing there are no photos. 

We went back into town to check out a street that was good for hairy crabs, another Rick recommendation.  The street seemed to be being renovated and where the restaurant Rick went to was blocked off by a massive pile of rubble and concrete. 

Thoroughly unsatisfied at trying to follow books and tv chefs for recommendations we went back to the hostel to attempt to get WiFi. 

No WiFi (really, what were we expecting!!!) but we did have chrysanthamum tea in teeny weeny cups and did some blogging.

We then relied on our own senses and experience for tea and went to Old Shanghai Dish restaurant mainly because they had steamed chicken feet on the menu. Why not??? 

Unfortunately we hadn’t put any thought into how to eat this delicacy and when presented to us we just stared at them. Guy tried picking them up with his trusty chopsticks. I giggled. I used my western fingers, and sucked on the chicken feet, it was all bone with a slight bit of fat covering it. Baffled, I finished one foot and decided Guy could finish the rest. He didn’t. 

The rest of the meal was a success, glutinous mushroom soup, rice with duck leg in brown sauce, both served in claypot so it kept steaming hot, lemon chonder (some Chinese white fish) fingers (or goujons if you are posh) and some bok choi with brown oyster mushroom sauce on top. Yum! Oh and a beer to celebrate a successful meal. 

On a high, we walked on down to the waterfront and Guy took loads and loads of photos of the Shanghai skyline using his tripod. If anyone wants to see more please let him know!

Obviously there was a bride and groom to be having photos taken as well, and yes , they do seem excruciatingly young to me too! 

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