Guest Blog: Lunch in Shanghai

Good friends Fiona and Tom are travelling the world. After a visit in Japan, they are now in China for some time and Fiona has agreed to send me the occasional food blog. You can follow their excellent adventure on their travel blog. First, check out Fiona’s guest blog for The Lemon Kitchen:

It was our first day in Shanghai and we were meeting up with an old friend from Ottawa, Mark, who had moved back here in 2008. We wanted to avoid the tourist trail and eat with locals so we asked if he could take us to lunch somewhere a foreigner wouldn’t go.

We jumped in a taxi that took us to the tree-lined French Concession neighbourhood and we walked to a corner restaurant with no name and a short line out front. Mark’s parents used to bring him here when he was as a child and told us this is a local favourite for a quick cheap lunch. The tables were full and the kitchen was in full view, servers and customers shouting orders across the room. The ‘menu’ was a list on a board above the cashier – not a word in English and so we trusted Mark to order for us, happy to eat anything he’d pick. Slightly overwhelmed by the noise and commotion, we found 3 seats at a table we shared with other diners and waited for our order to arrive while we sipped on green tea.

Menu

For myself a large steaming bowl of noodles with Asian greens and pork, sprinkled with fresh coriander. I ate the noodles with chopsticks and sipped the broth from my bowl just like everyone around me. For the boys, a set meal served on a tray : sweet and sour shredded beef, steamed white rice and a sprout/corn salad. The beef was more spicey than sweet and received a thumbs up from all.

To share, we had steamed buns (mantou) stuffed with pork which we stabbed with a chopstick, dipped in soy or vinegar and slipped into our mouths.

Mantou

All this for the equivalent of $4 Canadian dollars. It was not anything unusual or that we had not tasted before (with the exception of the mantou), however sitting at a table with Shanghainese and being welcomed among them was something special. Had we come alone, we would have not been able to order anything since there was no English menu and we would have missed out on this wonderful lunch.

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