Part of the ignorance that came with not realizing it was Chinese New Year was not preparing for how closed everything would be in Shanghai. The town, which is normally packed full of hustling people and peddlers, was completely barren (that is except for the pyrotechnicians with their fireworks).
Sure, the stores and service people that cater to expats were still open and around, but after a few days I got tired of the same few boring store options and craved something more authentic, or at the very least something tastier.
Being the organized ex-law student I am, I mapped out all the delicious sounding restaurants and fun sounding sites from my Lonely Planet guidebook and headed off.
View Shanghai French Concession Map in a larger map
The French Concession, however, was just as closed as Pudong (our neighborhood) and we struck out at every restaurant we tried. At first, we enjoyed wondering the dormant tree-lined beautiful streets, but soon we got what D.E. calls hangry – the type of cranky anger that can only come from hunger.
After yelling at each other for the fifth time, we finally found an open restaurant that looked like Denny’s and a slimy fish market had a baby. It was called Grandma’s Kitchen on the outside and Mummy’s Kitchen on the inside and while I have no idea what it’s address is, it’s location is on the map below. Exhausted and frozen, we sat down and ordered what we were hoping wasn’t our last meal.
Boy did our spirits soar when our first dish was both quick to come and delicious! The crispy cut pork belly served with sugar and a spicy mustard for dipping melted in our mouth and warmed our chilled bones. The ham and crab roe fried rice that followed it was also wonderful, with just the right amount of flavoring. Although it had a little more oil than I prefer, it was still one of the best fried rices I’ve ever had. The broth of our last dish – a wonton noodle soup – was not the best, but the wontons and ramen noodles inside the broth were quite tasty.
Overall, with tasty food and very friendly staff, the place proved the age old saying of not judging a book by its cover. (Total cost of the meal = 95RMB).
Happily full of warm, delicious food, we walked out into a large throng of people, all apparently done with their Lunar New Year’s celebrations and ready to bargain shop. We happened upon this lovely little corridor at the corner of Ma Dong Lu and Zizong Rd and popped into a warm and inviting Haagen Dazs store.
While I really wanted to order this gluttonous cubic ice cream cake …
… D.E. convinced me to instead order the smaller, yet still monstrous, strawberry Macaroon Melody (cost = 78 RMB), which turned out to be a light and delightful end to a slightly stressful but still satisfying afternoon.