Shanghai: Jackie’s 50 Things to Eat Before You Die

Jia Jia Tang Bao: Pork and Egg Dumplings

Jia Jia Tang Bao: Pork and Egg Dumplings


First Thai Boat Noodle

First Thai Boat Noodle


Goga's Wasabi Salmon Salad

Goga’s Wasabi Salmon Salad


Salted Caramel Ice Cream at WIYF

Salted Caramel Ice Cream at WIYF

I find it incredibly hard to believe that I’ve been living in Shanghai for the past three years. I know it’s terribly cliché, but it seriously passed by in the blink of an eye. I’ve always wanted to live and work in Shanghai and it was my ultimate goal post-MBA. I’m incredibly happy and grateful for the experience and will miss this city. After being abroad for four years, I’m heading back to the U.S. and returning to the Bay Area.

Spread at Wai Po Jia

Spread at Wai Po Jia 外婆家


Japanese Style Rice at Ri He 日和

Japanese Style Rice at Ri He 日和


Gentleman Caller Roast Beef Sandwich at Madison Kitchen

Gentleman Caller Roast Beef Sandwich at Madison Kitchen


The Commune Social's Peanut Butter Dessert

The Commune Social’s Peanut Butter Dessert

The food scene in Shanghai is intense and it’s always changing. Due to the competitive restaurant industry (and also changing city laws), places are constantly opening and closing. Despite living here for several years, I feel like I only barely scratched the surface. Before leaving a city, I try and create a food guide, much like my 100 Things to Eat in San Francisco Before You Die, 50 Things to Eat in Paris Before You Die and 25 Things to Eat in Hong Kong Before You Die. In continuing with the tradition, I drafted a list for Shanghai.

In no particular order, I present to you:

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Shanghai: Mr & Mrs Bund

Vol-Au-Vent

Vol-Au-Vent

Paul Pairet’s Mr & Mrs Bund is one of the most buzzed about restaurants in Shanghai. After being in Shanghai scene for over 7 years, they renovated the restaurant last year and it’s was definitely a welcome update to the old red and green scheme. With over 200 offerings on the menu, it’s definitely overwhelming to order. Not everything is a hit, but there are some standout dishes. This post basically summarizes three different meals that I had.

Foie Gras Mousse

Foie Gras Mousse

Seared Foie Gras with Pomelo

Seared Foie Gras with Pomelo

My mother and I love foie gras and can’t resist it when it’s on the menu. She ordered the foie gras mousse and I ordered the seared foie gras with pomelo. Out of the two foie gras dishes, I actually enjoyed the foie gras mousse more. Nothing was wrong with my plump and rich seared foie gras. It was cooked perfectly with a nice caramelization and the citrus from the pomelo helped cut the fattiness. But the foie gras mousse was unique and definitely a highlight. The mousse is cold and smooth and topped with a raisin and hazelnut crumble. You mix everything together and I really loved the contrast of the crunchy granola with the creamy foie gras. It’s very easy to slather it all over the bread and granny smith apple slices.

Black Code Truffle New Meurniere

Black Cod Truffle New Meurniere

Pork Chop

Pork Chop

For our mains, I ordered the black cod truffle new meurniere and my mother ordered the pork chop. The pork chop was disappointing and wouldn’t need to be ordered again. While it was tender, it was really lacking flavor and needed some salt and pepper. We weren’t huge fans of the caper sauce that accompanied it. While the pork was meh, the black cod was mind-blowing. The fish is flaky and cooked perfectly on top of Paul Pairet’s delicious mashed potatoes (full of butter). What makes the dish is the sauce. The creamy truffle sauce came on the side and it’s fragrant without being overwhelming. The extra sauce came in handy to pour over the tasteless pork chop.

Mr and Mrs Bund Classics

Mr and Mrs Bund Classics

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Discovering China: Yangshuo

River Cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo

River Cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo

Located in the south of China, Yangshuo is just a beacon of beauty with gorgeous mountains ranges and flowing rivers. Besides visiting Beijing and Xi’An, Yangshuo is now going to be at the top of my list when I recommend places to visit in China. It was such a nice break to leave city life in Shanghai and escape into nature.

Guilin River Cruise

Guilin River Cruise- Clouds

Nine Horse Mountain

River Cruise

Boats River Cruise

As I mentioned in my Guilin post, the top thing that you have to do is take the Li River Cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo. This 5+ hour tour gives you a once in a lifetime view of China’s most breathtaking scenery. It’s so iconic that it’s even on the back of the 20RMB bill! I can see how this has been the inspiration for so many artists to paint and draw on long scrolls. The cruise takes you to a port that is about at 15-20 minute walk away from Xi Jie 西街 (West Street), which is basically Yangshuo’s downtown.

Yangshuo's Busy West Street

Yangshuo’s Busy West Street

Silver Cave

Silver Cave

Silver Cave Wall

Yangshuo’s most famous cave is Silver Cave. Although it is larger than Guilin’s Reed Flute Cave, I actually prefer Reed Flute. I felt that the lighting in Reed Flute Cave was done better and it was more impressive. So if see Reed Flute Cave, then you can pass on visiting Silver Cave.

Sunrise in Yangshuo

Sunrise in Yangshuo

Yangshuo Banyan Tree

Banyan Tree

Close-Up of the Banyan Tree

Close-Up of the Banyan Tree

Moon Hill

Moon Hill

Jiu Xian Village

Jiu Xian Village

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Guilin: Reed Flute Cave, Elephant Trunk Hill and River Cruise

2 Rivers and 4 Lakes Cruise in Guilin

2 Rivers and 4 Lakes Cruise in Guilin

Guilin has definitely been on my bucket list of places to visit. I always imagined the famous river scene with the mountains that you see so often in Chinese paintings. While Guilin is quite well known, I actually learned that Yangshuo is the more picturesque city to visit because it’s in the middle of the mountains. Some tourists even skip Guilin altogether and go straight to Yangshuo. I think Guilin is worth a stop and one day should be sufficient. I wanted to share a few photos from my trip.

Inside Reed Flute Cave

Reed Flute Cave

Reed Flute4

Reed Flute3

Reed Flute Cave Water

Light in Reed Flute Cave

If you go to Guilin, I highly recommend visiting the Reed Flute Cave. I’ve been to caves in the US and Europe, but I’ve never seen them lit up so beautifully. The lights really add a feeling of magnificence to the whole place. Keep in mind that the tour is in Chinese so if you want an English one, you’ll have to arrange your own guide. Plus, if it’s 100 degrees outside (like it was when I went), you’ll get a brief respite in the cool and comfortable environment.

Elephant Trunk HIll

Elephant Trunk Hill

Another key landmark is Elephant Trunk Hill. The hole in the hill makes it look like an elephant is drinking water. At night, it’s supposed to be beautifully lit up too. I don’t recommend climbing to the top of the hill. I did and the view isn’t anything spectacular. The view at the top of Jingjiang Princes’ City was more interesting.

Pagoda Sunset

Pagoda Sunset

Guilin Golden Gate

Can you spot the copycat Golden Gate Bridge in the distance?

Fishing Demonstration

Fishing Demonstration. The bird catches the fish and the fisherman extracts it!

Look at those roots!

Look at those roots!

Totem Poles

Totem Poles

Gorgeous Sunset

Gorgeous Sunset

If you’re staying in Guilin, then I insist that you go on the 2 rivers, 4 lakes cruise. There are cheaper tickets for shorter rides, but just go for the entire 2 rivers and 4 lakes cruise. I personally thought it was well worth it. The ticket includes a fishing demonstration (the bird catches the fish in his mouth and the man extracts it) and a musical demonstration of a Chinese flute instrument. There are multiple cruises at night, but I was lucky enough to get on the 7pm one. The timing was perfect because I could see Guilin transform from day to night. At night, the city does a fantastic job lighting up their famous bridges and monuments. It’s really a sight to see. I think one full day in Guilin is enough but if you do end up staying for two, you can also go to check out the Longji Rice Terrace, which is a few hours drive away. I didn’t have time to visit myself but others said it was worthwhile. Of course, you also have to take the river cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo but I’ll speak more about that in my next post!

Guilin: Sun and Moon Pagodas

Guilin: Sun and Moon Pagodas

Shanghai: Japanese Sukiyaki at Ri He 日和

Ri He | Sukiyaki

Ri He | Sukiyaki

Sukiyaki is one of my favorite dishes and whenever I see it on the menu, I’m always tempted to order it. I love sukiyaki because the broth is slightly sweet from the soy sauce, mirin and sugar base. When Austin Hu could not stop singing the praises of the sukiyaki at Ri He 日和, I knew that I had to try it. Located a little further in Gubei, Ri He (4th floor of 130 Ziyun Xi Lu; 紫云西路130号4楼 ) serves sukiyaki, Japanese hot pot, sashimi and a variety of other dishes.

Wagyu Meat Platter

Wagyu Meat Platter

Ri He Seating

The star of the restaurant is the wagyu beef sukiyaki. For 588 RMB, you can order the 2-person sukiyaki set. This includes thinly sliced beef with various levels of marbling from A2 to A6, pork belly, tofu, vegetables and udon noodles to end the meal. The meat is absolutely incredible. With all the fattiness, it just melts in your mouth. It’s hard not to savor every single bite. Ri He’s sukiyaki sauce is also amazing and I like how it’s not too sweet. Whenever I go to Ri He, I always feel pampered since someone handles all the cooking for me.

Sashimi and Agedashi Tofu

Sashimi and Agedashi Tofu

Normally, I’m wary of eating sashimi in Shanghai, but Ri He’s fish is incredibly fresh and safe to eat. You can ask what the local catch of the day is and they usually always have fatty tuna belly. There are also other small eats like agedashi tofu. Our waiter also recommend their gyoza and beef pancake, which I’ll definitely have to try next time.

The menu is completely in Chinese and Japanese so make sure to bring a friend who can speak and/or read Chinese. At the very least, you can open up online reviews and point to photos. The staff is incredibly patient and friendly so if you do end up struggling a little bit, I’m sure they’ll recommend dishes for you.

Shanghai: Chikalicious Dessert Bar

Chikalicious | Chef Maya in action

Chikalicious | Chef Maya in action

I love the concept of a dessert bar and I am actually surprised that no one thought of opening one in Shanghai sooner. Originally from New York, Chikalicious (123 Xingye Lu; 兴业路123弄5号) is a two-story dessert bar. The first floor takes walk-ins and has a small selection of desserts, including crêpe cakes and seasonal desserts. However, the real magic happens on the 2nd floor where you can experience the 3-course dessert tasting menu (188 RMB + 10% service charge).

Lemonade Sorbet with Honey Thyme Gelée

Lemonade Sorbet with Honey Thyme Gelée

Chef Maya and Chef Mauro are constantly changing the menu based on seasonal produce and you have to appreciate their creativity. On our visit, our meal started with a lemonade sorbet accompanied by honey thyme gelée. With the over 100 degree weather in Shanghai, this was perfect starter to cool us down.

Fromage Blanc Cheesecake Island

Fromage Blanc Island “Cheese Cake”

Japanese Honeydew Two Ways

Japanese Honeydew Two Ways

For our main courses, I ordered the NY-famed fromage blanc island “cheese cake.” This is probably the most ordered dessert at Chikalicious and often sells out every day. Served in a dish of crushed ice, this island cake is a cross between a foam and a mousse. It’s incredibly delicate and light with a very subtle cheese taste. It’s a very pure dessert and I like the hints of vanilla bean spread throughout the cake. My friend ordered the Japanese honeydew two ways. Compressed honeydew with mint was served with lemon foam, mint agar agar and melon sorbet. All the desserts are very light and are meant to highlight the natural ingredients. The honeydew flavor was bright and I loved the lemon foam. Eating the melon sorbet tasted like you were biting a piece of fresh melon. With each main dessert, Chikalicious recommends a wine/champagne tasting, which helps elevate the whole experience.

Chikalicious | Petit Fours

Chikalicious | Petit Fours

Yogurt Panna Cotta

Yogurt Panna Cotta

Our petit fours included coconut marshmallows, pistachio biscotti and strawberry cake. My favorite was definitely the coconut marshmallow, which had a foam-like consistency and melted in my mouth. While upstairs does have table seating, I actually recommend reserving a spot at the bar. You get to watch all the dessert chefs in actions and it’s absolutely mesmerizing. If you’re lucky, you may even have a chance to strike up a conversation with Chef Maya or Chef Mauro. Chef Maya was incredibly sweet, smiley and talkative. She could sense our enthusiasm for her desserts and gifted us a mini yogurt panna cotta. We were so excited because, earlier, my friend had a hard time deciding between the panna cotta and the honeydew dessert. The yogurt panna cotta is served with fresh peach sorbet (that pink is the natural color!), peach slice, dill agar agar and caramelized almonds. I really appreciated the crunch of the almonds and different textures in this dessert. The panna cotta was smooth, creamy with a nice sourness. The flavor from the peach was so intense and sweet.

Seasonal Japanese Yuzu Cake

Seasonal Japanese Yuzu Cake

Reservations for upstairs is an absolute must and they’re open from 2:00pm-9:00pm (Wednesday-Sunday). If you can’t get a table upstairs, you can always sample the desserts from the café downstairs, which is open from 11am-11pm daily. On a separate visit, I sampled the seasonal Japanese yuzu cake at the café. This was literally one of the best pieces of cake that I’ve ever had. A layer of white cake is topped with yuzu cream filling, fresh whipped cream and pistachios. It was incredibly light and airy and full of citrus flavor, reminiscent of eating lemon curd. While we were talking to Chef Maya, she mentioned that they’re already making the next cake to replace the Japanese yuzu one. It’s good to know that anytime you go to Chikalicious, you’re bound to try something new and exciting.