In this post I’m going to cover a trip to Shanghai, Xi’an and a visit to one of Beijing’s most prestigious restaurants: TRB.
We’ll start with Shanghai because food-wise I didn’t really see anything interesting, though in Shanghai’s defence I wasn’t really looking. I went for New Year so you can probably guess what was at the forefront of my mind while I was there…
Shanghai as a city was amazing though. The architecture was a pleasant break from the ‘sameness’ of Beijing and The Bund skyline was of course impressive. Here’s a few shots of it:
In terms of food I had there, I had the pleasure of paying £23 for this beauty…
Shanghai is far more expensive than Beijing but again, in Shanghai’s defence, I was eating in probably the most expensive area of the whole city and therefore probably the most expensive area in China. It was worth the treat, but at the end of the day it was a club sarnie. The ridiculous looking ribbon thing was my desert (strawberry and white chocolate cheesecake) which was amazingly disappointing but a few bites of the rich triple pressed chocolate cake behind it satisfied my sweet tooth.
In terms of the other meals we had, one night we went for the best curry we’ve had since coming to China (we were drunk though so this could impact this viewpoint) and the other that I remember we ate at Starbucks so I’m not going to comment on that at all.
So yeah, Shanghai was a bit of a blur but an amazing experience overall. When I go back in April and it is not New Year I’ll probably be able to be a bit more helpful.
You’ll probably be happy to hear that I have far more productive things to say about Xi’an, despite there being not much there.
We read a review of an organised trip to Xi’an which said something along the lines of ‘something good to kill time on Xi’an when you are bored of it on your second day’ and I’m afraid the statement is justified. The Terracotta Warriors were extremely impressive, though. Here’s a photo of me and the men themselves:
It was a whole day activity and if you find yourself in the region of Xi’an you should definitely go, and not just because there’s nothing else to do.
The highlight of the trip for me, though, was visiting Xi’an’s thriving Muslim Quarter. In Beijing they have fantastic Chuan串 restaurants everywhere and we visit one at least twice a week, so after learning they had a whole area of the city dedicated to the fantastic cuisine we couldn’t wait to try it.
Check out of the photos below for the rundown of what Xi’an Muslim Quarter had to offer:
You can download two videos of the street by clicking on the below links:
So, as you can probably tell, I thoroughly enjoyed £1 for five sticks of meat etc from the street food of Xi’an. What I enjoyed more though, and what I argue is more value for money, was a trip to Temple Restaurant Beijing before Christmas.
Temple Restaurant Beijing
When you talk about value for money it can come under two main headings:
A ridiculously large quantity of a passable quality product for a really cheap price
Amazingly unbelievable quality product for a fair price
As you can guess, Temple Restaurant Beijing falls under the latter; it was absolutely unreal.
We went for the weekend brunch option, which costs £30 for a choice of five courses and an additional £20 can be paid for wine pairings that match your chosen course. So that’s five courses, with wine, for £50 which is value for money in itself in a capital city. What made it truly special though was how actually unreal it was.
My favourite course had to be the Foie-Gras Terrine with White Chocolate and Green Apple. When I saw it on the menu I thought that, although I don’t really agree with how they produce Foie-Gras (though I have read good argument and counter arguments), I hadn’t tried it yet and I thought if I am going to then I may as well try it with something that sounds really weird. I’ve often found that if something sounds too weird to be good, it usually is good (apart from a strawberry and chicken dish I’ve had before, which was too weird to be good).
This is it in all it’s beauty:
It’s very like Heston’s meat apple in the sense that it (kind of) looks like fruit from the outside but when you could into it it is all meat. The white chocolate and actual apple went unreal with it as well. A brilliant way to begin a brilliant meal.
The other courses went from strength to strength as well. Offering things like pumpkin soup with mascarpone and a parmesan-flaked soft bread slice, pigeon cooked three ways with mulberry sauce, Crispy Sea Bream Filet with Capers, Pine Nuts and a Creamy Sauce and (the only pretty average thing on the menu), Eggs Blackstone.
To finish, an extremely attractive de-constructed strawberry cheesecake, which was perfectly radioed and portioned to enjoy after a rather classy display of gluttony.
I’m no wine buff but all of the wines tasted fantastic with the food, but watch out for the question of ‘would you like still or sparkling water’ since we found out the bottles cost £8 when we got the bill.
All in all we paid £65 each (after the additional supplements for some choices, the expensive water imported from New Zealand and a 15% service charge) and I’d do it again tomorrow. An unreal experience that I’ll definitely be repeating soon.
Maybe I’ll leave it for my dad and brother to treat me when they come in March.