Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Food off the Streets of Shanghai

From left: Scallion Oil Biscuit and Chicken Egg Biscuit

Damn, that was f*ckin' awesome. I was not expecting that. On a leisurely stroll back to my hotel, I passed by some street stands near the People's Park. Many of them sold the same thing, like Chinese sausages and corn on the cob. This lady was selling ji dan bing, which is basically like a Chinese egg prata, but with scallions and other Chinese condiments (like the optional swath of chili sauce). And this just blew me away...one bite into this total grease bomb wow-ed me and forced my eyes wide open. Yum...fresh off the grill and piping hot, it was greasy beyond hell (I had a hard time cleaning my fingers afterwards) yet tastier than you would believe (it didn't smell like anything great when you walked by). One competitor of this lady next door took it one step further by putting stir-fried bee hoon noodles inside (almost like a wrap - but a much greasier of course). I didn't try that one, but I liked the plain one so much that I went back to see what other goodies she had.

Holding up a little bowl of Liang Ban Mian in front of a street stallAnd that's when I discovered the next little treat: this little bowl of cold rice noodles called liang ban mian. They looked very boring in the window as they were just sitting there undressed, but after you order, they take the noodles, dump it in a big bowl and proceed to toss it with pickled veggies, tofu, spices, and sauces before pouring it all back into the original bowl for you to eat. This was outstanding too, with a mildly sour but definitely salty (and spicy, if you opt for the optional chili sauce) taste. All the pickles and cilantro just added extra bursts of flavor to this. And the best part about it is that it was only RMB 3, or US$0.40 (the pancake-like thing discussed above was even cheaper at RMB 2, or US$0.25). I love how some of the best food in the world is also some of the cheapest. With all this, who the heck wants to pay through the roof to get some chi-chi looking food that merely looks pretty? This stuff was awesome and definitely not something I was expecting to get in Shanghai.

No comments: