Lunch (Thoughts of Shanghai)


Late lunch was xiaolongbao from the original spot on Wudong Lu.

Still didn’t take a picture — ate them all with dark rice vinegar (the Zhenjiang variety of legendary origin) before I could even pull out my smartphone.

Later that day I would take a taxi to Pudong with several large bags and check in for a red-eye flight direct to LAX. First, I’d eat these eight dumplings — minced pork mixed with spring onion and aspic set inside circular unleavened dough wrappers then folded and pinched shut — directly from the bamboo steamer. These were the same ones I tried after arriving in Shanghai last year: the ones with vinegar poured in the same saucers, red chili sauce served with the same tiny spoons.

Exactly eight dumplings; no more, no less.

Continue reading “Lunch (Thoughts of Shanghai)”

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Xi’an, Shaanxi Province


Xi’an: ancient capital, bustling city of industry and education, and voted Central China’s most liveable city by the Erik Fruth Opinion Council.

I fully admit that I was swayed in Xi’an’s favor by the incredible food. The most incredible bing on the planet, saozi mian//臊子面 [cool video link!], endless street food stalls selling cakes and warm plum juice, ubiquitous and unfailingly delicious roujiamo//肉夹馍, enormous mantou//馒头, heavy use of cumin, chive, and garlic… the list goes on.

It goes without saying that I was well-fed in this city. I would like to point out, however, that I was well-fed out of the necessity to try every street vendor’s culinary offerings (describing their edible creations as anything less than cuisine is plainly insulting to their craft).

All this is not to say that Xi’an is dull in other aspects.

The largely Hui Muslim community in Xi’an is distinct in their dress and diet, and the beautifully eclectic mosques in which they worship. The three tiles below were all taken inside two mosques in Xi’an’s Muslim Quarter. The latter two were taken inside the spectacular Great Mosque, the largest and best preserved of China’s early mosques,¹ built in Chinese architectural style and thus lacking traditional domes or minarets. The mosque hearkens all the way back to 742 CE, though the building that stands now was constructed in the early Ming Dynasty.² More information about the mosque’s history and some incredible photos of its grounds can be found at the links above.

The Bell and Drum Towers [below, respectively] were constructed during the Ming Dynasty and are now symbols of the city of Xi’an.

In June, 2014, the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda became a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of the Silk Road Routes Network of Chang’an-Tianshan Corridor.

Lastly, the city is home to the world-famous Terracotta Warriors. Three pits dug as part of Qin Shi Huang’s mausoleum contain thousands of clay soldiers — complete in rank and file — as well as hundreds of chariots, horses, and court officials. For the man who united the warring states of China in 221 BCE to become ruler of the dynasty that would later bear his name,³ this mind-bogglingly grand burial was a matter of course.

6 RMB for the Greatest Dumplings of Your Life


The first of what will inevitably be many posts praising the Shanghainese food scene…

With a smiling face, dough-caked fingers, and a quick invitation for you to sit down, the waitress at my local steamed dumpling joint is better than yours — not that it’s a competition (and if it were, there wouldn’t even be one).

That said, it’s probably impossible to get a bad meal in the entire city of Shanghai.

Continue reading “6 RMB for the Greatest Dumplings of Your Life”