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

Thanksgiving #3 in Shanghai

Thanksgiving in Shanghai

Thanksgiving in Shanghai

It amazes me how quickly time passes and how I’m celebrating my third Thanksgiving in Shanghai. This was my 5th Thanksgiving ever spent away from my family. In some ways, you think it would get easier, but I do miss celebrating with my family in California.

Food Table Setting

Food Table Setting

I almost thought that I wouldn’t celebrate Thanksgiving this year. For the past two years, Lana has hosted Thanksgiving at Boxing Cat Brewery. But alas, Lana left Shanghai earlier this year and I didn’t really have too many American friends who could relate.

Ice Bucket for Wine

ICE BUCKET FOR WINE. I can’t believe she took the time to freeze it overnight.

As luck would have it, I made a brand-new friend who graciously invited me to her house for Thanksgiving meal. This girl makes EVERYTHING from scratch and spends a week prepping for the meal. I knew it was going to be epic, but I literally had no idea.

Gorgeous garlands hanging from the ceiling

Gorgeous garlands hanging from the ceiling

I felt the need to blog about Thanksgiving so that someone could showcase her beautiful meal. When I arrived in her apartment, I was stunned. It was a gorgeous table setting with so much attention to detail. All the guests were joking how Pinterest-worthy her decorations were and I couldn’t agree more. In truth, it made me feel like I’m going to be an inadequate wife/mother because I could never put any event together as beautifully as she did.

Thanksgiving Meal

Thanksgiving Meal

As if the room decoration wasn’t enough, she made: roast turkey, baked brie, peas, roasted corn, mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet potatoes, brussel sprout and kale salad,corn bread and cranberry sauce all from scratch. Oh, and 4 pies. Yes, 4 pies! If I had to do Thanksgiving in my house, it would take a month to prepare all that food.

4 pies!

4 pies!

Anyways, I wanted to thank my friend for inviting me to her lovely home and making this year’s Thanksgiving less lonely. Wherever you celebrate this year, I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving from Shanghai!

Shanghai: Wellington Wednesday at Coquille

Coquille: Beef Wellington

Coquille: Beef Wellington

I’ve blogged about dinner at Coquille (29-31 Mengzi Road; 蒙自路29–31号)before, but I have been dying to try their beef wellington for months. Every Wednesday, you can reserve a beef wellington, which is as delicious as it is beautiful.

Face as size reference for golden beef wellington

Face as size reference for golden beef wellington

Served with au jus, mashed potatoes and roasted asparagus

Served with au jus, mashed potatoes and roasted asparagus

Coquille’s beef wellington is Australian tenderloin wrapped in foie gras, black truffle and mushroom spread, and proscuitto. All of this is wrapped in a golden pastry envelope. The wellington is served with au jus, roasted asparagus and mashed potatoes. It was nice to have a little bit of green on the plate to help cut the richness of the dish.

A sight so wonderful

A sight so wonderful

I was in awe of just how delicious this wellington was. The crust was so buttery and flaky and still slightly crispy. The beef was SO tender and one of the best pieces of red meat that I’ve had in Shanghai. I loved that it was cooked rare/medium rare. Seared foie gras is one of my favorite things in life and the combination with the beef was pure heaven. Having the mushroom and proscuitto helped add some more salt and complexity to the whole dish.

Wellington5

When you arrive at the restaurant, you still have to wait about 40 minutes before the wellington is served. Resist eating appetizers because it’ll be worth having that extra room in your stomach. It’s quite a lot of food for two people. My friend and I definitely rolled ourselves home afterward. I think it would be the perfect amount of food for 3 people.

Wellington3

Coquille’s beef wellington is about 650 RMB (including the sides) so it’s definitely a dish worth ordering for a special occasion. I would love to bring my parents sometime and it would be a great meal to celebrate Father’s Day. It was one of the best meals of my life and I can’t wait to have another “excuse” to eat it again.

Wellington6

 

Shanghai: YongFoo Elite and Han Mama

YongFoo Elite Garden

YongFoo Elite Garden

My mother was in town and she arranged a lunch with Chinese designer, Han Feng. Han Feng took us to the picturesque restaurant, YongFoo Elite (200 Yongfu Lu; 永福路200号), in the French Concession. YongFoo Elite is housed in an old historical manor, which over the years has served as the UK, Vietnam and Russia consulate. The house is surrounded by a beautiful garden that transports you to a different era.

Yong Foo Elite Food

Yong Foo Elite Food

Since Han Feng is a regular, she was in charge of the ordering. We had spring rolls filled with fish, fish filet pieces with bamboo, hong shao pork belly and stir-fried vegetables. My favorite dish was definitely the fish filet pieces with bamboo. The dish was so delicate with a simple fish sauce, but the fish was tender and practically melted in your mouth. Hong shao pork belly is a classic Shanghainese dish, but I really enjoyed this version. Sometimes hong shao pork belly can be overly sweet, but YongFoo Elite’s isn’t. The meat is braised perfectly and also very tender. While the spring rolls were very crisp and fresh, I wasn’t a fan of the fish-based filling. I prefer the pork/shrimp/vegetable variety instead. YongFoo Elite is a great Shanghainese restaurant to take out of town guests or someone you want to impress.

Han Mama

Han Mama

For a more casual bite, Han Mama (123 Nanyang Lu; 南阳路123号) offers affordable Taiwanese dishes in a modern and clean setting. When my friend and I went, we ordered the lu rou fan (braised pork over rice), dan dan mian (spicy sesame noodles), chili oil wontons and the beef noodles.

Han Mama Food

Han Mama Food

Lu rou fan is one of my favorite dishes and is total comfort food. There is something soul-warming about having soy-braised pork with ton of sauce over rice and reminds me of a dish my mother would make. Han Mama’s version of lu rou fan definitely did not disappoint. The dan dan mian didn’t leave much of an impression on me and I probably wouldn’t order them again. The chili oil wontons were definitely tasty and had that nice spicy and garlicky sauce to accompany it. For the spicy beef noodles, you can choose to have fat or skinny noodles. I recommend getting the fat noodles, which have a perfect consistency and a heartier texture. I personally thought that the soup base was a little weak and could have packed a little more of a punch. I was happy to see that the beef pieces actually had meat and weren’t just full of fat and tendons. Overall, it was a solid meal, the portion sizes were decent and the prices were good.