This is our first post for On Plate, Still Hungry and it’s kind of hard to figure out where to start. I mean, we live in Shanghai… Shanghai! Home of the soup dumpling! The whore of the East! This town is filled with a cornucopia of deliciousness and disaster.
You might have to live in China to get that. Shanghai is a city of extreme contrast, the old and the new colliding at break neck speed, and rich and poor rubbing shoulders at the grubby dinning tables of the city.
One thing is for sure here, everyone wants their piece of the pie and they are prepared to go to some lengths to get it. This sometimes manifests itself in some truly shady biz, including the most terrifying food scares you can imagine (slop oil extracted from sewers, exploding watermelons, rats disguised as roast pigeon, little boy urine eggs, fake eggs… the list goes on and on).
Chatting to a Shanghainese friend last night he said, “I don’t care what it is, if it looks good I eat it. Too many food scares to worry.” I’m not sure everyone shares this view and the rise of vocal complaints on the web from Chinese netizens when it comes to food safety is definitely on the rise.
Now back to the flip side…. the deliciousness… If you look around just a tiny bit in Shanghai you can find some truly amazing shit! The aforementioned soup dumplings that explode with porky joy and make me know deep down in my heart that God (if such a deity exists) does not want me to keep kosher, Hong Shao Rou (red braised pork belly - one of Mao’s faves… and dude was fat so loved good shit blatantly!) and noodles galore… we could and might write a book on noodles alone in our wonderful town, we are truly spoiled.
One of the best things about Shanghai is that it’s a city bursting with migrants, from all over China and further a field which contribute to the literal and figurative hot pots of the town. Besides the huge variety of Chinese, there is also tons of great Japanese, Southeast Asian and European food.
I guess over the coming months/years we will be writing about our culinary adventures in China so for now I’m just gone dive in with a meal we had recently which really blew my little socks off.
We recently finished a hardcore run with our running crew Dark Runner (a bunch of like-minded kids running every Thursday night through the neon streets and old lanes) and were in desperate need of nutrition. Fellow Jellymon compatriot Josh suggested this place called Jiangbian Chengwai / aka spicy fish place (Address: Room 301, Huidu Mansion, 569 Jinling Dong Lu, near Xizang Nan Lu, Huangpu district 江边城外巫山烤全鱼 黄浦区金陵东路569号汇都大厦301室, 近西藏南路) that his friend Wen had taken him to.
The idea is you pick your fish, we picked some prehistoric looking motherfucker that had a hard shell and must have been caught by James Cameron on his latest deep sea sojourn. It had a delicious smokey taste. To the fish you choose your sauce / soup / smothering of choice. We picked pickled pepper sauce / soup / smothering cos one of our dinning mates was a pussy and didn’t want to eat the hardcore Sichuan ma la (numb spicy) one (he’s only been in China two months.. soon he’ll be lapping up the ma la heat like milk from a mothers teat). To this you add vegetable of your choice (pesticides be damned) and some amazingly morish side dishes such as spicy cold chicken, crunchy cucumbers and Dan Dan Mian, the spicy sesame noodles. We washed it all down with some ubiquitous but frosty Qingdao pijou (Tsingdao Beer).
It’s cheap, delicious and everything we love about living in China… really fun! Oh one last thing… between 6 - 8pm expect to queue up to three hours! I’d recommend going at around 10:30pm like we did (no wait at all) or finding a rube to queue for you.
- Sam Jacobs of Jellymon