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Friday, 01 July 2016

Sensory Delights in Shanghai - Page 2

Written by Jill Weinlein
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To reach Yuyuan Garden, we first took the subway to People's Square boasting the largest garden in the city and museums displaying the past and future of Shanghai. The subways are clean and efficient to get around Shanghai, plus it’s safer than walking some of the busy streets. During rush hour, the trains are packed door to door with people. I was packed in so tight next to commuters, that I couldn’t raise my hand to scratch my nose. It’s very quiet on the subway car, yet I couldn’t help but giggle at the amount of body parts from other people that were crushed next to me. When the door opens you have to push forward forcefully or you will miss your stop.
Walking along the historic Bund built In 1840 during the Opium Wars, we appreciated the beauty of the grandiose buildings and foreign embassies. Known as the ‘Wall Street of Asia’ along the Huangpu River, with its grand architecture from the 1920s Golden Age before the war.

Across the river is the newer Pudong area with skyscraper buildings along greenbelts and park-like pathways. This used to be farmland less than 20 years ago. Now it hosts one of the tallest buildings in the world. The star of the area is the magenta colored, needle-looking, Oriental Pearl Television Tower.

Our next foodie challenge was to find the best Baozi or Bao. It’s a white bun filled with meat or vegetables. Some have green onions, tofu, and red bean paste in the center. These are easy to find throughout Shanghai in street stalls, food courts and sit down restaurants.
Looking for a cool treat, we found one of the most unique casual dining venues, while walking down one of the many alleys running through the Tian-zi-fang area in Shanghai, Dine at More Than Toilet - Delicious & Happy restaurant. It’s a restaurant where diners sit on commodes. Inside we gawked at all the tables with toilets instead of chairs. Their porcelain lids were sealed shut, and the tops were covered in colored velvet fabric. Golden urinals line the walls.
The owner Wang Zi-Wei has opened other Delicious & Happy restaurants in Asia. The food is pretty average and mostly Western cuisine with soup, pasta dishes, salads, pizza, however the chocolate swirled ice cream served in a small plastic squat toilet or urinal serving dish is very whimsical. It was a fun multi-level spot for a snack or meal.
Day 2: For breakfast we ladled congee or rice porridge into bowls and topped the popular breakfast dish with pickled vegetables, pork floss, peanuts, bamboo shoots, pickled tofu and cut up hard boiled egg.
We hired a driver and guide to take a ninety minute ride to the historic city of Suzhou for the day. Walking in a light rain, we visited the picturesque Garden of Humble Administrator - a UNESCO World Heritage site to learn about the history of the various Dynasty’s that owned this Chinese Garden. Strolling through the gardens we learned about 2,500 years of history, while admiring various stone bridges, beautiful rocks, water features and pagodas.
After a two hour tour, we stopped for lunch at a banquet restaurant and enjoyed dishes from the region that included whole river fish filled with tiny bones, tiny slippery unpeeled shrimp and egg rolls.
After lunch we visited a silk factory and learned how silk worm thread is turned into elegant robes, beautiful clothing and silk sheets and bedding. Later we finished exploring the city by canal boat in Suzhou, known as "The Venice of Asia” situated on the lower reaches of the Yangtze River.
Before driving back to Shanghai, we made a stop in Tongli Water Town, an ancient water town along the Yangtze River Delta. Almost every home in this area is built by a canal. Tongli is the ‘mini oriental Venice,’ with 15 different canals connecting the town with 40 different bridges. It’s a picturesque place to discover shops filled with flakey and warm pastry balls. Biting inside we discovered a cooked egg yolk surrounded by red bean paste. It provided a sweetness to the creamy yolk. Another shop made Taiwanese pineapple cake - called Fung lL Su. It’s a pineapple tart, with a thick, jammy filling and a buttery crust.

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Last modified on Friday, 08 July 2016

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