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Published: August 8th 2010
Yunnan Folk Cuisine @Lost Heaven
This southwestern part of China offered chinese cuisine so unlike the Cantonese and Schezchuan cuisine we were more familiar with. My favorite is their eggplant and tofu dish and the pork in lettuce wrap!
Shanghai is a fascinating place. Having spent a total of 6 days at the Expo, you can say I have been appropriately "expo-ed out". Also, this is my 5th trip to Shanghai in less than 2 years --- so, what to do? I have done side trips to Nanjing and the water towns, I have done the Bund stroll, checked out the shopping places, enjoyed the more modern Xin Tian Di area, and the more Chinese Yu Garden. I opted to stay behind in Shanghai while my friends made a trip to Beijing , and the Shanghai nightlife is not really for me. Legs up, I'd be quite alright with a flute of champagne , listening to good music or watching a video from the comforts of an air-conditioned room. We have tried Manchurian, and Yunnan cuisine in a fine dining area called "Lost Heaven" near the Bund, along with the typical Shanghainese cuisine from Din Tae Fung . You can say food or eating out is not exactly at the top of my list now. Enough of the Expo, with 4 days to spare before my friends come back to Shanghai, there are varying options to consider on how best
to spend time around here.
Xin Tian Di
Xin Tian Di area is a lovely place by day or by night. We once had dinner there in a fancy place, after missing out on the visit to the venue of the 1st Communist Party meeting. This time around, we were early and beat the 4pm closing time. Having grown used to Mao photos in his late years, it was quite surprising to look at his photos in his youth. Here's one very young leader , along with many others , who all look like they just went past their teen years! Yet this group managed to shape the history of a nation of a billion people with a civilization as ancient as can be. Many student groups visited the museum and we can tell how proud these young Chinese are of their history. Naturally, the place wouldn't have done a good job without showcasing where China is right now. Plans and actual photos of the World Expo in Shanghai were also on exhibit, where one traces how China progressed through the years.
What's a Shikumen?
We also didn't pass up
Inside Lost Heaven
The resto's soft lighting, heavy wood feel and music prepared us for Yunnan cuisine which I found to have subtle influences from Burma and Thai cuisine.
the chance to visit a Shikumen, a typical tenement housing for Shanghainese. Here, the model residences introduced us to life in Shanghai in earlier years. I just love those captions "Mother goes to market; Grandfather drinks tea at nearby parlor; Son goes to school; Grandmother plays mahjongg." What more history would you want after that? We also tried the Shanghai Museum
but was discouraged by the long lines. Instead, we dropped in at the Urban Planning Museum.
As we entered, Hai Bao
welcomed us . China's advances without forsaking its historical roots is simply remarkable. It helps that it has such a huge continguous landmass to start with, and a labor force counting over a billion. I was amused checking out some photos and miniature models of some buildings, only to read somewhere the words "UNREALIZED". Either the planners changed their minds, or the plans remained plans. ;-)
The Underpass Beneath the Urban Planning Museum
Feel transported in time as you exit under the Urban Planning Museum. Find a typical street scene in earlier Shanghai as the line of stalls, ceiling a la Las Vegas' blue skies, oriental fences, standees of typical Shanghainese characters from
Xin Tian Di Area
You wouldn't think you are in China when you are in this part of town. Very cosmopolitan.
not too long ago, all under the Museum. And yes, there is some shopping too!
Speaking of shopping, there is clearly a choice in this department. You may want to mix sightseeing with a bit of shopping in the Yu Garden or Yuyuan, haggle till you drop at the underground shopping at the Science and Technology Museum in Pudong, or stroll through the classy Nanjing Road where many signature shops rule. Amidst all these shopping choices, one also finds the lovely Jing'an Temple.
So, why am I here?
Let's just say I love springing surprises. My friends who flew in from USA stopped over in Manila on their way to Shanghai to meet up with a sister. I told them I'd be down south a day before their departure for shanghai. Truth is I flew to Shanghai ahead of them. Of course the sister knew and connived with me!
So there I was in the restroom of Din Tae Fung where the sister brought the entire family for dinner. I could hear my friend's voice from inside the cubicle. A few minutes after they left the restroom , I followed them
Inside a Shikumen
Typical residential area in earlier years.
to the private dining room. Ni hao ma! It took some seconds before my "appearance" registered! I guess they must have felt disoriented to see me and may have thought they were still back in Manila.
Don't we just love surprises? I wasn't prepared for one myself too. You see, my friend's daughter is very adventurous with exotic food. Exotic, you say? If I were to join Fear Factor with a partner, this is the girl I want in my team! Make me jump from a speeding truck, and let this girl eat all the bugs! Well, welcome to China, my dear girl. She picked, and savored goose feet, ate the head and neck of the duck, even took pleasure in showing me the goose feet (not chicken feet, GOOSE feet!). Oh my.
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