An Inland Beach Vacation (7/8) – (Other) Foods

An Inland Beach Vacation (7/8) – (Other) Foods


The purpose of our “beach vacation”, in case I forgot to mention, was food.

Shanghai – Proper Restaurants

Hong’s dad is classy guy who grew up in a wealthy Shanghainese family, so he was well versed in all the big, well-established restaurants in the city.  We went to a few.  The small group and jet lag made it difficult to properly order food made for the big round table, but we still enjoyed several awesome dishes.

The current incarnation of the major restaurant nearest Hong’s dad’s old home

Steamed pork (粉蒸肉)

Eight Treasure Duck (八寶鴨), an entire duck stuffed with rice and other things was delicious but 10x too much food for our group

Soup dumplings (小籠包) from Ding Tai Fung (鼎泰豐)


Shanghai – Breakfasts

Pork noodles and soy milk at Lao Ban Zhai (老半齋), one of the old timers’ favorites

Fried dough, egg pancake, and rice ball at A Wen (阿文), a 24-hour breakfast joint well loved on TV and on the Internet

The one thing that we really wanted to try in Shanghai was the local version of scallion pancakes.  We had been stalking information on a super famous stall called Ada, but it was out of the way and its excessive popularity (long lines) seemed incompatible with our traveling kids.  Then we came across this place within a 15-minute walk from our hotel.  It appeared to make its pancakes identically to Ada, and it was quite popular as well.  We decided to give it a try – took me well over an hour of travel and wait time to finally get a taste of this Shanghainese scallion pancake, and delayed our scheduled airport trip.  Well worth it, though!

I started waiting here like a beggar 20 minutes before the business opened, so I avoided this queue.

Elastic dough, lard, and what seemed to be two pounds of chopped scallions.

Fire oven to finish baking the pancakes, after frying on the griddle above.


Shanghai – Other

A random noodle shop on a dark alley.  Not the most sanitary looking sort of place.

Food was dirt cheap ($2 for a bowl of beef noodles) but tasty.  This shop had a surprising amount of foreign customers, too.

A table of vegetarian “village” cooking in Xitang.  Looked plain but was one of my favorite meals.

Peppercorn frog, fusion Hunan style, had an incredible flavor.  Had this in Wuxi.

Walnut cakes


Xian – Xinjiang Restaurant

Xinjiang is the northwestern autonomous region in China, with mostly ethnic Uyghur people.  We ate at a random Xinjiang restaurant thirteen years ago, and it was among my top 5 favorite meals on the month-long journey.  As such, we looked forward to trying more of this cuisine.  When hotel-bound one evening in Xian, I took a stroll to search for take-out, and found this.

I read this menu carefully while inhaling way too much cigarette smoke.

The take-out packaging couldn’t have been more ghetto… kebabs and naan tossed right into plastic bags, poking holes through the layers, etc.

We had the meal in the bathroom while the kids slept due to jet lag and illness.
Not the most romantic dining environment, but holy moly the food was outrageously delicious!!!
Not pictured: lamb pilaf, lamb kebab, spicy naan, water spinach, and stir fried potato strings.


Xian – De Fa Chang (德發長)

We came to Xian for the street foods.  However, for the last meal of the trip we thought it’d be nice to get everyone together for a proper sit-down dinner.  In the heart of the city, directly between the Bell Tower and the Drum Tower, were two ginormous old timer brands:

  • Tong Sheng Xiang (同盛祥) – a halal restaurant started with lamb/beef pao mo
  • De Fa Chang (德發長) – a Han restaurant most famous for its dumpling feasts

We went with the latter.

De Fa Chang was the four-story restaurant on the right.

Golden dumpling!

Unfortunately, nobody was that hungry, so we didn’t order much.  The food was so-so, but I loved the colorful dumpling wrapping.



Xian – Lao Wan (老碗)

Literally “Old Bowl” was a restaurant near the south city gate.  We all had lunch here one day.

Interior decor was beautiful.

Lao Wan’s main attractions were a varieties of noodles, true to the Xian dining scene.

“Red & white tofu”, with the red being congealed lamb blood.  I had to order it.

Forgot the name but this ultra refreshing vegetable was fantastic.

Deep fried pork ribs.  If I weren’t told I’d have assumed it was lamb ribs.
I’m still scratching my head how they made pork taste this good.


Okay that’s it for now!  In the next and final post we’ll talk about the real deal of the Xian eats.


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