Tuesday, February 23, 2010

2/22: Making up for lost time

The first day of work was good - checked in with everybody, laid the groundwork for a few intense projects in a short period of time. Around lunchtime, I was sort of expecting everybody to go to lunch together (that's how it worked during my visit two years ago), so after people started disappearing 1 and 2 at a time, eventually I looked around and saw the office almost deserted - and suddenly realized I was waiting for a group outing that wasn't happening. Thankfully one of the partners was lingering and we struck up a lunch date. So far my first meal in China, and a local took me to a Spanish restaurant, where I ordered Mexican (burrito) and he ordered Italian (risotto). Strange!

I didn't have any specific plans for this evening, a co-worker from the US (who had lived in Shanghai for two years) recommended a lounge in People's Square park, so I decided to head in that general direction. Walking to the metro, I see most things haven't changed - passed Mister Donut and the shop that sells olive tea - or is it tea olives? Two metro stops later, I was in the labrynthian D-Mall underneath the Square. This place has shops with the cutest things: korean stationary with little manga children travelling the world, little japanese socks with cartoon dogs dreaming, and a wide selection of decorated "I am not a paper cup" brand coffee cups. Eventually, somehow, I managed to find the exit - it was directly through vertical strips of plastic, the kind a supermarket has to separate the butcher's area from the freezer area.

I enjoyed the walk through the People's Square park, although the only Peoples I saw were young couples in love. By the time I got to the end of the park, I wasn't really looking for the lounge anymore, I just wanted some good local food. A little bit more random wandering led me back to XinTianDi, the somewhat touristy Quincy Market-like area I had visited my first night in Shanghai two years ago. The most interesting restaurant there is Steam, a contemporary but not overly expensive menu dim sum place. I had the steamed shrimps wrapped in lettuce wraps (think dim sum stuffed cabbage), Cantonese broccoli stir-fried with mashed garlic (slippery yummy bok choy), and noodles with fresh wonton (a little bland for my taste).

My only complaint about the place is that they have an endless loop of Kenny Rogers singing what he probably thinks are the greatest love songs of all time. Remember kids, this is the guy who decided his face would look better replaced with a bowling ball bag. Yeah, he used the same judgment in covering Bryan Adams, Cher, even his younger self, and if I wait around long enough, probably Celine Dion and Bette Midler.

After dinner, I walked around XinTianDi a bit -- it's actually much nicer than I remember - it's several blocks long, with a lot of different restaurants, expensive pottery and tea shops, and souvenir kiosks. Before leaving the complex, I stumbled upon a lounge advertising what they called "Yogurt of Paradise." Well, I had to try that! It seems to be a semi-sweet greek-style yogurt - mostly frozen - with chopped tropical fruit on the side. It was.... interesting. Now you know!

Epilogue: still 10 minutes away from the hotel, I had to start running back and get there in 5 minutes -- or else. I want to say it was the Yogurt of Paradise that suddenly kicked in!


The other Olga said...

oy! do you have a healthy supply of Imodium with you?

Sara said...

Your blog posts always make me need to get up and get a snack :) Suddenly I'm starving.

Dave said...

Luckily it was just a one-time attack, probably due to the extreme yogurt. No problems in the 11 hours since!

Sara, I'll post more foodie photos/stories soon :)