Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Shanghainese Feasts - part III

The final part of all my eating in China.

I hate to say this but by the end of my 10 days I was a little tired of Chinese food *shock horror* and I was really looking forward to my big finale ... yes, a buffet lunch at the Shangri-La! Oh no, no .... this was no ordinary Mr Wu's buffet with it's greasy fried chicken wing tips, sweet and sour onions (oops..pork) and stir fried bean sprouts. This buffet lunch was an abundance of fresh seafood, sushi, Indian dishes, dim sum.....emmm........£25 a person. Alright, that is actually bloody expensive for China but hey, it's Shanghai... it's an expensive city and it was a birthday treat for my mum so it was money well spent :) Now, let's dig in!

First up, poached fresh scollops and mussels with shallots in red wine vinegar. Fresh plump and juicy.. need I say more? ;) In the little glass was a little ceviche (citrus marinated fish) with some mango salsa. Not terribly exciting taste wise but it looked very pretty in the glass.

Next (clockwise) - boiled asparagus and garlic flower (minus the flower) topped with fish roe and chopped boiled egg. In my attempt at being 'arty' I put a slice of salmon sushi at the head of the plate. To the left a slice of deep fried Indonesian beancurd - terribly unexciting and bland. At the botton I have salmon (an another fish which I do not know the name of) sushi topped with mayo and seared with a blowtorch (Crème brûlée style at the sushi counter). Next to this - salmon and tuna belly sashimi - emmm good! A pretty little dish of wasabi with soy sauce on the side rounds it off.

Anything but Chinese food at this point = goood :) So I had Indian-ish... I sneaked in some dishes from other regions too :D In the top left hand corner is a vadai, an Indian savoury snack that looks a lot like a doughnut made with, in this case, lentils. Next to it chickpea curry (sorry can't remember what it tasted like but I think it was relatively good). Moving on - the green patch next to the chick peas - tabbouleh from the Middle Eastern counter. Ergh no, no, BAD. It was made with curly parsley instead of flat leaf so the texture was wrong and taste was just not right. The fish next to it was from the Southeast Asian section. Grilled with a tamarind sauce. The fish was dry and quite boring really. The fish dish below it I did like though. It doesn't look like much in the photo (to be honest this photo is really quite bad with no practice on my almost new camera) but it was tasty, tasty, tasty. If I remember correctly, the fish was cooked on the grill on top of a banana leaf with a sauce of tomatoes, onions and other yummy things. It was moist and the sauce had a good tang from the tomatoes. Next, deep fried green beans with minced pork. I'm in China, I just can't escape it! :) Actually, despite being in China and all that, the dish was terrible. The beans were too old and thick (does that sound odd? thick beans?) and there wasn't the taste of a good, big fire needed to cook this dish. Above the beans - lamb curry. Ohh yes, *drool*. This they did well - actually the Indian chef did well (he said hello to me). A well spiced dish with tender chunks of meat. Flavoured rice above that, with what I can't remember.

I moved west for this round. Baked oysters with cream, breadcrumbs and cheese. Can't really go wrong with a dish like that. It was good but not spactacular. Next to it, fish with a tomato and basil sauce. Again good but if I can't remember it, it couldn't have been briliant. Behind this a big, big mound of mushrooms. I love mushrooms. Garlic, wine, a bit of rosemary.. can't go wrong. Well, they did when they added lemon juice to it! It was all wrong. Where you're expecting richness of flavour enhanced with some butter, you hit with sour lemon mushrooms. Thumbs down! Hiding behind the musrooms is a little dish of breaded fish and tartare sauce. An attempt at fish and chips. I thought was a cute idea but the fish was dry and the coating not nearly crunchy enough for my liking.

Andddd there's always room for dessert. The dessert counter is the first thing you see when you enter the restaurant and unless you really dislike sweets, you won't say no :) Along one glass window were 4 fountains - milk chocolate, dark chocolate, vanilla and pistachio. As soon as I entered I knew I had to try this out! I've never had this before but I had heard alot about it. Fruit and sweeties galore as dippers, of which I chose a fruit stick and a choux pastry stick. The pastry was dry even after a good douse of chocolate. No points there. The fruit stick on the other hand was very good despite previous sneers of fruit and chocolate. The one that did stand out was rock melon and dark chocolate. Very unexpected.

On the whole I was dissapointed with the dessert. Definately not the selection but with desserts itself. The 3 memorable desserts: the melon fruit stick with dark chocolate, the dark chocolate ice cream seen here with the chopped nuts and the little chocolate mousse torte (as enlarged and distorted for the main picture of this blog). Don't ask about the mother thought it was added colour to the photograph. She thought it was hilarious too.
The end of 10 days fooding in Shanghai. I didn't take pictures of all the meals I ate. Sometimes I was too hungry to wait, other times my mother and I were too engrossed in those mother-daughter discussions. I also sometimes forgot. It was a good, albeit, freezing holiday in China. It did really open my eyes to what the country is becoming and gave a little insight of what it still is. Food-wise .... it was all good. All good.

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