23 January 2012

China Tour ~ Shanghai - Part 2

In this episode we wander the back streets of the French Concession, get lost in the Old Town and end up covered in crawfish juice. Another fine winter's day in Shanghai.

Breakfast time in Shanghai. Steamed bun stands were everywhere, and it was tempting to warm up on a few but the stomach space was too valuable.

After seeing a few more stands we could no longer resist and we grab a dumpling off this lovely lady.

Shawn deeply regrets not trying a cup of black rice gruel and soy milk for breakfast. 'Black rice gruel' may not sound pretty but we bet it's sweet and delicious.

Mobile poultry saleslady. On our trip we noticed that whatever disastrous situation ducks are in, they always look peaceful. Even if they are hanging upside down with their feet tied together, while their buddy has just had his head chopped off, they look like they've just finished a Zen master class with a valium and chardonnay chaser.

A busy little corner of food joints in the French Concession.

Soy milk and bread lady. Fresh soy milk is hugely popular and so much nicer than the "So Good" crap at home.

The big flat slices of bread are delicious, sliced into quarters and sold by the weight. Shawn digs the ones covered in spicy cumin paste while Alison goes girly for the egg and chive numbers. We see these all throughout China, but more-so in Shanghai.

Too cute to eat?

Tough day in the cold at a street market.

This restaurant looks like us all over, but we're not quite ready for lunch.

Huge queue at a Chinese BBQ shop.

One of the reasons we came to China is to catch the traditional old areas before being mowed down and replaced with high-rises. There was a historic building amongst this lot which might have saved it, but usually they all get pulled down.

Across the road from the building site we find this golden hole-in-the-wall joint for lunch.

Noodle soup under construction.

Patiently waiting for lunch.

Al dente noodles with thin slices of cooked pork and coriander, in a tumeric flavoured broth. Perfect to beat off the just raining chill.

Mr Puss E. Cat of Shanghai.

Cooking outside in a street kitchen. We wonder if these ladies would rather be in a high rise with a new kitchen, or down here with a sense of community.

Pommelo saleslady.

We stumble upon Shanghai ye olde world. Dig those outside kitchens.

Ye olde world with highrises looming.

Outside cooking.

Another random restaurant.

And another.

Noodles ready to go.

Outside laundry.

Milk trike.

Chickens flecked with chili drying in the street.

Streetside oden joint.

The old and the new.

Street vendors.

More street vendors.

Hot sweet potato salesman.

BBQ meat stall. Bring it on.

We park ourselves on the side of the road to feast on hot sweet potato.

Sensational roast duck.

Lotus root filled with rice and cooked in a sweet syrup until the rice swells and fills the holes.

Spring onion pancake vendor.

Spring onion pancakes on the hot plate.

The finished article, Joy. Salty, oily and carb-o-licious.

There's lots of modern parts of Shanghai but it's the ye olde areas we love.

For dinner we return to this joint we found the night before. It's sort of two businesses in one. There's a guy grilling stuff on sticks.

And another guy cooking seafood in super spicy broth.

Grilled veggies. This cost us like a dollar or two, we should have ordered piles more like the locals. The veggie dishes in China are sublime.

Our plate of prawny and yabbie things, a type of chinese crawfish.

We're given plastic gloves to eat with. The little buggers are coated in hot, sticky spicy sauce. Just enough permeates the flesh to add flavour without too much chili heat. We get covered in sauce up to the elbows while the dainty little office worker lady next to us nibbles them glove-less and stays spotlessly clean.

The locals hooking in to prawns and yabbies.

The next morning this little lass gives us a good-bye wag as we leave Shanghai. We quickly learn the easiest way to make a brief connection with the locals is to make a fuss of their dogs and babies, it works a treat.

Good-bye dodgey alleyway leading to our hostel.

Good-bye cute milk delivery box.

We leave the incredibly modern Shanghai station on an incredibly modern fast train. The trip from Shanghai to Hangzhou is mindblowing. Endless new suburbs popping up in the middle of nowhere, highrises  like thickets of trees, alongside abandoned village style buildings, farming on every spare inch of land, amongst freeways and factories, all covered in a thick industrial smog. Confronting.

We love China.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Yeah. I'm a fan of old-style China too. It's sad how quickly it seems to be disappearing.

  3. Hmmm, I'm not so sure about the Zen Master ducks - did you make that up so I wouldn't be sad? The chive pancake thingy looks good (oh, and the roast duck too...just don't tell the Zen Masters I said that).

  4. The ducks are just so beautifully calm and graceful even under the most grim circumstances. It's like they know some secret answer to the meaning of life or something. Having said that there are some photos we didn't take thinking of you Miss Piggy :-)

  5. Oh so yummy!!!! Great post! The Spring Onion pancakes look so good. And the duck!!
    I sure miss having you 2 around as I eat in Singapore. =) Getting my fill before I head back to Sydney.

  6. Love the crawfish! They are invasive species but the Chinese solve this problem by eating them. The noodles on 515 ultimo Rd in Sydney is great, too.

  7. You are right that the "Black rice gruel" is sweet and delicisou. Missing the food in Shanghai so much.

  8. I remember many of the same old style buildings in my hometown when I was young, and I had the best ever wonton in one of those street side restaurants, but one day I suddenly found the old narrow street was gone, so did the lovely little restaurant..T-T

  9. You guys just made my belly flip-flopy


Thanks for your comment joy - please keep your musings happy - if you want to complain about a restaurant please do it on a restaurant review site (or your own blog) - we're all about celebrating cultural diversity and the great eats that come along with it :-)

Our ethics: We pay for all our own meals and travel (though sometimes Mum shouts us).