Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Shanghai - Day 2

Day 2 - a Monday - that's the day we went to Hangzhou. It is the capital of Zhejiang province and located 180km southwest of Shanghai - 2 hours' drive away.

Before we started the journey, we went looking for some local breakfast. Yon Ho was our choice as it's one of the largest chains of chinese fast food in Shanghai. Yon Ho is also the brandname of a popular soyamilk drink there.


The interior was bright and cheerful with some chinese writings on a mirrored wall...
My friend CH made the orders at the counter, while I busied myself arranging the cutlery...
First item to arrive was Fried Meehoon. Plainly and simply done, with strips of carrots, taugeh and dried shrimps, it was a delicious start to our breakfast. It would have been a bit better if they had chilli padi too...
Ahh... this is their famous soyamilk... served in humongous bowls... it was hot off the pan, mildly sweet and full of soya goodness!
Of course the most perfect accompaniment to soyamilk (according to the chinese) is their Yu Tiao - or "yau cha kui" - fried dough fritters. The Yu Tiao over there is about at least a foot long... and here they served them to us cut up in half...

... but this guy here had the full-sized yu tiao in all its long glory!

Glutinuous rice is very popular and it's served in all shapes and sizes with all kinds of ingredients. First, we had a sausage-shaped glutinuous rice item... with some beans & dried shrimps inside...
Then we had another one, with a spicy dried shrimp filling...
We also tried their Fried Dumplings... a bit oily, but really delicious! Fillings of minced pork & shredded turnips were wrapped in thin pieces of dough and then pan-fried...

Onion Pancakes - a kind of flat biscuit-like pastry, sprinkled with chopped spring onions and pan-fried. Very fragrant and tasty!

With a full stomach after all the above items for breakfast, we then happily rode in the van heading to Hangzhou. On the way to Hangzhou, I must say the countryside was very pretty - quaint farmhouses dotted the scene, most of them nestling in fields of yellow flowers. Too bad the van couldn't stop for me to snap pics.

Hangzhou is a pretty huge city - bustling and very busy! Lots of highrise buildings in this city. Not surprising as the entire Hangzhou region houses close to 7 million people! Hangzhou is famous for its beautiful natural scenery, the most famous of which is of course their West Lake.

By the time we reached Hangzhou, it was already noon. We were advised by the van driver to have our lunch first before "touring" the West Lake - the lake covers an area of 6 sq km! We thought that was an excellent idea - walk the lake with a full stomach!

We chose one of the restaurants located just inside the West Lake - sorry I can't remember the name and neither did I take a photo of it!

The 1st dish that we had was Chicken in Lotus Leaves. This turned out to be the most disappointing dish we had during our Shanghai trip! It was dry and quite tasteless and lacked the necessary herbal flavours that such a dish demands.

I loved the cold dishes... this was the Jellyfish - it was just simply tossed in some soya sauce, vinegar, sugar and sesame oil but it was so tasty! The texture of the jellyfish was a bit harder to what we are accustomed to but it was something deliciously different! There was added crunch and ooomph to the chewing!
Cold fungus - again another simple dish - it was just soaked/tossed in some kinda sweet sourish sauce. I really admire how they can use simple ingredients and simple methods, yet the dishes taste really delightful & appetizing!
Fried Tofu Skin - how much simpler can you get? Just rolls of beancurd skins fried to a crisp and they literally disintegrated in your mouth the moment you pop these crunchy morsels inside!
Ahhh... this was one of the delicacies which my friend CH said we had to try - guess what this is?
Maybe this angle will give you a better view?? Hehe... yes! It's Duck Tongues! They have been braised in some soya sauce and spices... the texture is smooth and chewy... quite delicious, I must say... when you try not to think that you're doing tongue-to-tongue with these!
We had a hot soup... this was Fish Soup, with slivers of mushroom, fungus, bamboo shoots. The fish strips were done really fine & thin... at first they were quite undiscernible until I took a closer look. There were even some small fine bones in the fish strips!
This is another famous Hangzhou dish - Longjing Shrimps. It's just shelled shrimps saute'ed lightly and topped with their famous Lonjing tea leaves. (Longjing is the famous green tea in Hangzhou). Actually, this dish was nothing to shout about - the shrimps were quite bland and I certainly didn't taste any Longjing flavour in them!
I had to have my vegetables and asked CH to order their local veg. What came to our table was this plate of delightful green veg lightly fried with taufu strips. I have no idea what the name of the veg is - it's like a cross between "thoong-hoe" and kangkong, with a wonderful fragrance - I like!!
Ahaa... here comes the star of the meal - Hangzhou's famous West Lake Sour Fish! The fish was extremely fresh, very smooth & tender and topped with the signature sour sauce and a sprinkling of fried garlic - absolutely yummy!! Everyone who visits Hangzhou must try this dish, I tell ya!
After the immensely satisfying lunch, it was time to exercise our legs - a walk round the pretty West Lake! It's indeed a very scenic lake, with lush willow trees and beautiful greens growing abundantly in the area...
I really love that beautiful red tree - so prettily unique amongst the greenery...
and this chinese boat resting on the banks... almost postcard-like, eh!
These corn cobs looked very nice - so many different colors! The dark-brown ones are what they called "glutinuous corn" and the lighter brown ones are those crossed with the yellow corn. We tried the lighter brown one and found it to be completely tasteless - it was good for exercising our jaws only!
More pretty scenes of West Lake...
We went on a cruise round the lake in one of these quaint chinese boats...
It rained when we disembarked from the boat and we had to buy umbrellas from the many enterprising vendors there - they were like shoving "yue san" (umbrellas) into our face at RMB10 each!

I like this pic below which showed the stark tree branches framed against the grey sky - kinda artsy nostalgia in the air, hoh?!
From the West Lake, we took a drive further in... into the Longjing tea plantations. Most of these tea businesses are family owned and home-based... these baskets of Longjing tea were just freshly picked that very day...
From the tea plantations, we headed to the Pedestrian Mall near the West Lake - here, shops selling all sorts of chinese crafts, souvenirs, food and everything else line both sides of the street...
This bronze statue of the Laughing Buddha marked the entrance to the Pedestrian Mall...

We went looking for snacks... McD was certainly not on our list...(although they do serve yummy pork burgers there!)
Ahh... finally, we entered the Food Street and were greeted by these... humongous piles of glutinuous rice heaped onto pineapple-halves...
Braised Pig Tails...piping hot in the pot...
Chinese satay - we tried a few sticks of their Lamb satay - very good!
These were steamed egg custards...
and huge Mantis Shrimps...
Pig trotters anyone??
Hmmm... guess what this huge pot of stuff is??

Duck Blood Soup! CH told us we must really try this and she promptly bought a bowl of it...I'm not a fan of blood products, hehe... but I did try a piece of it. It tasted like pig's blood (an acquired taste) and the soup had pieces of tofu, fungus and some pickled veg in it...

Duck was everywhere! And all parts of the duck, too! Braised Duck Wings is a national snack there, I think - it's sold all over the place, from restaurants to roadside stalls to supermarts!

...and Duck Heads too! I totally have no idea on how to eat a complete duck head like this - but I did try the Duck Jaw later on in a restaurant (will post about that later)...
I couldn't resist trying their Fish Balls... but they turned out to be nothing special. It was quite tasty but I think we have better fish balls here, hehe!

These were Pumpkin Fritters which CH bought... pumpkins, onions mixed in flour and fried... quite oily and tasted like our local cucuk udang...
The journey back from Hangzhou to Shanghai took slightly longer than 2 hours due to the evening traffic jams. By the time we reached Shanghai, it was way past dinner time - almost 9pm. CH called ahead to book a table at a Hotpot (Steamboat) restaurant and I was told the restaurant closes at 4am - still plenty of time to eat! Wow... it seems Shanghainese go for hotpot till 4am!

First item we ordered for the Hotpot were these almost-paper-thin slices of Lamb...
...and of course I must have my greens...
...and Balls - fish, shrimp, meat... all came on a bed of more greens!
We had these Fish Slices too - they don't look like fish, right?? Thick juicy slices of marbled-flesh fish - dunno what fish, but they were delicious after being lightly cooked in the hot soup!
A platter of various mushrooms added flavour to the soups...
Oh... they have a wide array of dipping sauces available - it's MIY - "mix it yourself"! We had a fun time mixing all the different types of sauces...

And a wide selection of soups available (unlike here you mostly get clear soup or tomyum)... to be safe on our tummies, we chose the Fresh Tomatoes Soup and Chicken+Mushroom Soup (sorry for the blur pic - the steam was getting in the way, haha!)

The Hotpot dinner was great in warming us up in the chilly night... we were practically burping our way home after that! Happily went to bed with warm tummies, haha!

Watch out for my next post on what I had on my birthday the following day... *wink wink*!

11 comments:

CUMI & CIKI said...

wa.. just ur day2 alone so long ar? lol.. you have some excellent BIRD shots there i tell ya.. all cooked and glorious! hehe.. erm, that is a HUGE you teow i tell ya

gill gill said...

walau, duck tongue! i like it very much. you had so many food in one day?!

550ml jar of faith said...

Yes, gimme gimme more! I am amazed at the stuff that's jumping out at me from this post - the fungus, the jellyfish, onion pancake, even glutinous rice which I'm usually averse to! I visited about 10 years ago, and it didn't look ANYTHING like this!

thenomadGourmand said...

wow wow woo..my trip to china wasnt anywhr near this! but yea la.. iwas at diff part of china.
hehe seeing this post reminds me of the chinese saying, we eat everythin and all parts of everything!

J2Kfm said...

wah! really a foodie paradise lah!

more more more!!! :)

PureGlutton said...

ciki: Hehe, ya, i'm very long-winded, i know, LOL! Watch out for ducks in every corner there!

PureGlutton said...

gill gill: Oh yesss... we had 3 meals in a day mahh...plus some snacks here and there, LOL!

PureGlutton said...

550ml: Faster book tickets and go shanghai soon, LOL! I'm sure it has changed LOTS since u were last there 10 years ago!

PureGlutton said...

nomad: ya lor...the chinese eat anything with its back facing the sky mahh!

PureGlutton said...

J2Kfm: I did warn you, it was a food fest in shanghai, LOL!

Big Boys Oven said...

I am drowning now . .. . with all your wonderful food photos! :)