Rhonda’s Cooking

www.rhondascooking.com

Shanghai Surprise

Posted by rhondascooking on November 10, 2007

Wow, Shanghai was a huge surprise for me!  I was so shocked to see the huge tall buildings and all of the advertisements on the buildings in bright lights.  It reminded many people of New York and to me it was a baby Vegas.  I was amazed to see how relatively new and vibrant that this city is.  Our new tour guide, Yo-Yo, was great and she loves her city.  She was very nice just like Renee, a.k.a. Nae-Nae, in Beijing.  According to Yo-Yo, Shanghai has approximately 22 million people living there and after watching the people cross the streets, I believe it.  There are so many people in a small area.

When we arrived at the hotel, LeRoyal Meridien, we were tired but also in  awe when we drove up to the place.  This hotel was gorgeous on the inside from the front door, to the rooms.  It is only 1 1/2 years old with a French, contemporary look.  It was amazing.   As soon as we dropped off our luggage, we immediately headed to a conference room for a business meeting with Winston Lee, VP of Logic Solutions.  Winston spoke with us about how to do business in China, as well as about what Logic Solutions can do for us.   After about his 40 minute presentation, when we had Q&A for about 20 minutes.  Despite the fact that this company doesn’t focus on food related products and other non-IT businesses, Lee indicated that there is a possibility that they could still help connect us with the right people. The meeting was very informative and gave me some things to definitely think about!

After the meeting, we all took a drive to the Bund to see the lights, take pictures and learn about the area.  Despite the fact that we were hungry and cold, it was a beautiful site.  Click here to learn more about The Bund and to view pictures http://www.travelchinaguide.com/attraction/shanghai/huangpu.htm.

After returning to the hotel, everyone was heading to eat American foods such as Pizza Hut and KFC, whereas me and another fellow traveler wanted to eat Chinese food.  So we were referred to eat at Xian Qiang Fang because it is good and affordable.  So, after surviving walking down the street without getting run over by a bus or moped, we made it to the restaurant.  When we arrived, we noticed that there appeared to be a wedding.  So, they waiter want to give us a private place to eat, but that room was too smokey.  By the way, I had no idea how much they smoked in China.  Because I live in Arizona, I am not used to smoke anymore; many of our restaurants are smoke free.  Anyway, we were later seated in the main dining room.  We were able to see the wedding and the guest.  It was great to see a traditional Chinese wedding, which is much different from American weddings.  First of all, most of our weddings are not held in restaurants, but rather hotels or churchs.  Second of all, we traditionally wear white or cream, but Chinese women wear red, which represents good and lucky.  Yo-yo later informed us that all of their weddings are held in restaurants and not in the temple due to buddhists religous beliefs (80% of China’s population are buddhists.)

I browsed the huge menu and noticed that it wasn’t much for me to eat, so I decided on fried rice.  However when the waiter came, he asked me if I wanted more and if I wanted to add fish.  So, I said okay, without asking about portion size or cost! 

After getting a recommendation from the bilingual waiter, I decided to go with the grouper fish.  I asked for it to be grilled or pan fried, but at this restaurant, there was no grill, so it had to be deep fried, which I thought was going to be pan-fried; I guess that was what he meant.  Once I got my dinner, it was beautifully fried and of course, it had the head on the plate!  I don’t know why the chefs think that we want to have a fried fish head on our plates—was I supposed to eat that thing?!  Of course you know that I didn’t.  When I took my first bite, I was pleasantly surprised that this fish was flavorful and perfectly cooked!  I ate all of it, except the head. The waiter thought that I didn’t like it initially because I was eating slowly, so I told him I did like it, but I was waiting on my vegetables.  He said that the Chinese style is to bring out separately.  I forgot that my Chinese native colleague told me that.  So, after I was done with the fish, then the waiter brought me my vegetables, which were green bean leaves.  I didn’t know what to expect because in my hometown, we never at the leaves from the green beans plant on the beans.  When I first tasted the leaves, I noticed that it had lots of flavor, but the leaves were strong, slightly bitter taste, but still edible.  I really enjoyed it.  We asked for the bill and noticed that it was 1040 RMB.  After getting the breakdown and doing the dollar conversion, my fish was $121 USD! I almost fell out of my chair; I was definitely not expecting that!  So the fish was charged by the pound ($660/pound) and it weighed ~1.3 pounds.  Shoot, I bet the darn head weighed a pound!  Well, I really couldn’t be mad because I didn’t ask him what the price was prior to ordering.  Despite the price, I must say that it has been my best meal since arriving in China on 11/6, so it was worth it! 

I am so glad that I ate ALL of that fish! 

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