January 8, 2008

Shanghai Redux

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I was in Shanghai last weekend, and of course I was going back to my favorite restaurants in the city.

Had dinner with my friend David at La Platane in Xintiandi, a tough choice over his recommendation for a tempura restaurant. He brought a bottle of 1995 L'Evangile along for the evening, which was a classic Right Bank and drank very nicely after about an hour.

I started with the foie gras xiao long bao, which caught my attention as no doubt it would with many others. Five buns in a steam basket appear before me, laying very flat. I pick up the first one with my chopsticks, and it breaks. I am annoyed. I'm always very careful with my xiao long bao, so it's not a good sign when one is broken in the process of pickup. I scoop up the spilled contents into my spoon, and add a drop of vinegar. The next few buns turned out fine. The shrunken pieces of foie gras, swimming in its own oil inside the bun, mixes well with the bits of black truffle. The truffle was surprisingly fragrant, since I believe it was Chinese in origin. I found that the vinegar overpowers the taste so the buns are better on their own.

The main course was the crackling suckling pig, which turned out to be one whole leg, trotters and all. It was really, really delicious. The skin was perfectly roasted, with a thick layer of delicious fat underneath. I finish the upper hind quarter, and move on to the legs and eventually pick up the trotters and chew. David is amazed that I finished the whole thing.

For dessert, we had the paper-thin tarte tatin and the peach souffle a la mode. Both were delicious. I'm very happy to have come back to Justin Quek's flagship French restaurant.

Next day at lunch I met up with Leslie, my best friend from high school. He was doing his periodic tour back to Asia, and I just had to take him to Jesse Restaurant (吉士酒家) for authentic Shanghainese.

We started with some jellyfish with vinegar and parsley (海蜇頭) - nice and crunchy. Also had some baby spare ribs (糖醋排骨) which were quiet sweet and yummy, chopped up into bite size pieces. Then came some typical stir-fried Shanghainese veggies (塔菜炒冬筍), and the piece de resistance - the braised fatty pork with cuttlefish (目魚紅燒肉). I love the juicy, fatty pork braised with sweet soy sauce, and Jesse's version is my absolute favorite - other than my mom's of course.

I left Shanghai later that day, satiated, and looking forward to my next visit.

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