I’ve officially been in Shanghai for three weeks now and I’ve been extremely busy. Between starting a new job and adjusting to a new social/professional environment, I’ve barely had a minute to myself to just decompress. However, I am absolutely loving Shanghai. There is an energy here that is practically palpable and the expats I’ve met are extremely friendly. I feel like everyone is in the same boat where we are all outside of our comfort zone and willing to help each other out. It is an unspoken bond among the expat community. I’ve been introduced to friends of friends and everyone has been welcoming and full of advice.
Rather than write separate blog posts, I’m just going to write one giant recap about the blur that has been the past three weeks!
I was introduced to Lana by an old co-worker and I was so touched by her generosity. The first time we met at a café, she gave me a card, welcoming me to Shanghai, and a map, outlining her favorite spots in the city. It is a handy guide that I have kept safe in a special drawer (Truthfully, I feel like a little kid who is guarding her special treasure box full of knick-knacks and mementos).
We met later in the week to have brunch at Shanghai Brewery (15 Dongping Road). Every time I’ve walked by Shanghai Brewery at night, it has been packed with people. It was a pleasant change of pace to find it empty for brunch at 11am. Brunch is really reasonable and for roughly 75 RMB, you can order a full meal (eggs, sausage, bacon, hash browns, beans, grilled tomatoes, French toast AND a microbrew). Normally, brunch runs for about 150 RMB in Shanghai. I ordered the omelette and it was so tasty that I gobbled it up in about 5 minutes flat.
On top of being an overall nice person, Lana also helps run the Stitch & Bitch club in Shanghai. Every month, she arranges fun DIY events and invites other creative ladies to craft while imbibing in delicious drinks like sparkling wine. I was honored she invited me to her pumpkin painting party and I had a blast meeting new people and discovering my inner artist (said artist is still under development).
Stitch & Bitch events are normally held as Sip ‘n Paint, an adorable studio hidden behind Yongkang road. I was smitten by the space and could not believe that most of the paintings were done by students. Lana told me that the owner holds several classes each month and I am completely inspired to sign up for one next month. The owner also makes really cute cake pops! I happily bought a panda one and the taste instantly transported me back to America.
One of my friends was in town for a work trip, so we went with a group of people to try New Age Veggie (98 Huaihai Zhong Road). As you’ve probably guessed from the name, all the food is vegetarian and the inspiration from the dishes comes from many regions in China. The menu was expansive and literally had everything under the sun. I soon got overwhelmed trying to maneuver all of the choices on the iPad and relegated the task to a local Chinese person. One thing that I thought was cool was that you actually order from the iPad! I had never seen that before. Usually the menu is on the iPad, but a waiter still has to take your order (China never ceases to surprise me). I honestly can’t tell you everything we ordered, but my favorite dishes were the steamed dumplings, spicy tofu and eggplant cooked in a casserole dish.
Finally, the last exciting event from the past few weeks was Shanghai’s 2nd International Beer Festival. Held at Wharf 1846 right by the Huangpu River, the Beer Fest had a plethora of international beer stands, food stands and even live music. I was pretty impressed by the outdoor venue and enjoyed the views of Pudong.
One thing I really liked about the festival was that it introduced me to a bunch of restaurants in Shanghai. For example, I discovered YOLO Juice with their blind taste test competition and discovered Tock’s, a Montreal-style deli, by creepily stalking what other people were eating.
I cannot tell you the last time I had a good sandwich. I honestly believe that it is what I miss most from America. At the Tock’s stand, I watch the man carve from a huge, steaming piece of meat and instantly knew that I came to the right place. The meat was tender, tasty and flavorful. I was so happy and it paired well with the American-style yellow mustard. The only disappointing thing was the bread. It was kind of dry and blah. I wish it had been rye bread toasted with some butter. That would have made the perfect sandwich. That being said, the bread did not stop me one bit from savoring the beautiful symphony of smoked meats and mustard.
Those are the major updates from Shanghai! October has been a great month so far and I hope it is indicative of the what is to come. Thanks for your patience with the new blog posts. I’m anticipating not being able to update as often, but I will do my best to keep you informed on the food scene in Shanghai!