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Archive for the ‘China’ Category

Filling up on Guangzhou street food

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During an 11-hour layover in Guangzhou, China, was provided a 72-hour visa to roam the city while waiting for the connection to New York City. After making an obligatory stop at the Canton Tower, it was getting close to sundown and meandered to the Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street (with assistance from the accommodating staff at the tourist center at the base of the tower).

Exiting the subway station, found a street lined with small shops and restaurants, everything looked great but was skeptical if it was even the correct place. After a bit of wandering and turning down random alleyways that led to small residential enclaves, found the street. It was wide with tons of people walking around (while dodging cars that are permitted on parts of the “pedestrian street”), with stores both local and international, along with restaurants – also, both local and international.

As time went by and the ticks continued to pile up on the phone pedometer, it proved difficult finding a place to eat; not that there wasn’t anywhere to eat, but there was too much to choose from. Started snacking by stopping at roadside stands and enjoyed things like bubble tea and scallion pancakes. Happened upon a food court that was packed with people and noticed one stand putting out, what looked to be, cups of sesame chicken. It looked good and tasted even better; big, meaty hunks of chicken in a delicious sauce, all for about 25 RMB (just a bit over $3.50).

After a while, noticed the hunger was gone and realized snacking down the Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street provided enough to make a meal – and there was still so much more to enjoy.

Coffee Breaks at A Twosome Place

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A vacation in Shanghai meant wandering around a new city, taking in new sights and exploring roads in an unfamiliar environment. Sometimes it was before starting the day, sometimes it was a midday break, right across the street – over the elevated walkway – from the hotel, was Korean coffee shop chain A Twosome Place.

Always a good spot to stop for a Flat White, but also an array of bread and pastries awaited customers when you enter. One of the highlights was a flaky and sugary pastry filled with delicious cream. Beyond the attractive appearance of the pastry, it was prepared so well, biting into it, the crispy and flaky crust lent itself well with the sweet and creamy filling that made for a lovely break in the day.

With new opportunities to travel around Asia, always good to know if A Twosome Place is around, it’s a reliable spot to take a break.

Twosome Place

Written by Paulo Loreto

August 29, 2015 at 7:35 AM

Filetto di Manzo con Foie Gras

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Taking a break from the various Shanghai fare, the suggestion to go Italian one night brought forth a visit to Va Bene, in Shanghai’s Xintiandi district. According to their website, “Travel+Leisure” ranked them in the Top 5 restaurants in Shanghai in 2009. After dining there, it is well-earned distinction.

Ordered the filetto di manzo con foie gras (fillet of beef with foie gras) for a main course and it was incredible. A well-prepared fillet is always an amazing experience, but include a beautiful piece of foie gras, it takes the dish to a whole new level.

Clearly, the Chinese food scene throughout Shanghai offers a great variety of cuisine, but those times when one wishes to take a break from local dishes, Va Bene is a great destination for those international cravings.

Gorgeous foie gras at Va Bene Shanghai

Gorgeous foie gras at Va Bene Shanghai

Written by Paulo Loreto

June 10, 2015 at 6:36 AM

Dongpo Pork of Hangzhou

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As part of a tour of the city of Hangzhou, by the time lunch rolled around, the tour stopped by a small restaurant. The restaurant defined quaint, it was like walking into your grandmother’s house. Dining was either outside or in individual rooms and service was provided by an older lady, fitting with the grandmother theme of the restaurant.

A variety of dishes were provided, from a simple egg dish to a potato entrée, all of it delicious. One of the highlights was the dongpo pork, which the tour guide noted is a Hangzhou delicacy. A piece of delectable pork belly, braised, then stewed; it leaves you with a tender piece of pork, swimming in a thick gravy. The slow-cooking brings a rich flavor with every bite of the meat.

The pork is definitely something to try if ever in the area.

It is likely one would never think of stopping by a restaurant like this, or even noticing it, without the help of a local or an experience tour guide. Not one to usually take guided tours, but finding these hidden gems is, clearly, a huge benefit.

Dongpo Pork, a dish that lives up to its reputation.

Dongpo Pork, a dish that lives up to its reputation.

Written by Paulo Loreto

May 30, 2015 at 8:00 AM

Crème Brûlée Tea Ice Cream

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Shanghai’s Grand Gateway 66 is home to a branch of Singapore-based tea company TWG. Besides tea, the shop also offers an array of desserts, various flavors of ice cream, and a full dining menu. Enjoying an afternoon tea service is definitely a must if you find yourself at a TWG location, but taking some ice cream to go is also an opportunity to take advantage of. Their ice cream flavors are all based on their tea, which is extremely diverse, which makes them all unique.

On this particular occasion, opted for the crème brûlée tea ice cream and, as the name suggests, it is just like taking in a rich spoonful of crème brûlée. And because the ice cream is tea-based, the expected sweetness of the crème brûlée is evened out with distinct notes of tea.

Given the assortment of desserts TWG has to offer, on the next visit, will have to take home a sampling of marvelous-looking treats.

Besides tea, TWG offers so much from desserts to a full dining menu.

Besides tea, TWG offers so much from desserts to a full dining menu.

Written by Paulo Loreto

May 26, 2015 at 7:08 AM

Cream Puffs at Grand Gateway 66

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Walking through Shanghai’s Grand Gateway 66 for the umpteenth time, the upper-level cream puff stand has repeatedly drawn attention with its diverse offerings of delicious sweets. Finally, the day came to approach the counter and order a cream puff. Thinking it was going to be the first of many visits, had to open with the basic cream puff. After some light-hearted back-and-forth, trying to overcome a language barrier, the friendly staff began work on preparing a basic cream puff.

The cream puff pastry is already set, soft and flaky. One of the ladies pulls up a metallic mechanism and sticks the spout of the apparatus into the empty pastry. After a couple pumps, she wraps it in wax paper and hands it over the window. In less than a minute, you have a freshly-stuffed cream puff, available to snack on for a decent price.

The pastry offered both sturdiness and a great consistency, and the cream was delicious. It was everything one would expect from a cream puff, especially one so large and freshly prepared.

Cream Puff

Written by Paulo Loreto

May 3, 2015 at 9:16 PM

Longjing Green Tea

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Known for its exceptional health benefits, longjing green tea has become massively famous and has given a boom to the city of Hangzhou – the green tea capital of China.

Visiting a green tea plantation, guides took you through the harvesting processing and how tea leaves are prepared for sale. Going through a tea service, a small amount of hot water is added to the leaves in each glass and the guide asks to take a whiff, which gives off an odor very similar to spinach. As more water is added, you’re asked to place your eye near the glass and to cup your hand around, to keep in the steam, which offers a refreshing sensation to your eyes.

The guide goes through an experiment to illustrate the differences between water and green tea when it comes to cleansing. Placing iodine on rice, soaking it in water showed, virtually, no difference with the iodine-coated granules; whereas the green tea left the rice bright white.

Longjing green tea is offered in both a traditional tea form or in tablets.

Longjing Green Tea

Written by Paulo Loreto

April 25, 2015 at 5:45 AM