Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday Feb 26: wrapping up the work week in Shanghai

At lunch time, my manager and I popped out to the Tao Bao center, it's a famous Shanghai "knock-off" market. They have bose headphones for $15, UGG boots for $20, etc. It's fun but exhausting haggling for everything. If you're somewhat interested in something, and ask the price just to find out how interested you are, now you're involved in the negotiation and you have to see it through. Every time, whenever I said my final-final-final offer, and walked away, they always came yelling that they'll accept my final offer. It's a crazy process. We had a fast-food lunch before heading back to the office. I had a fountain soda of what appeared to be Cherry Pepsi based on the cartoonish sign. I have to say it takes EXACTLY like Robitussin. I have had 1 or 2 beverages that are reminiscent of Robitussin - this is not one of them. I think this literally WAS Robitussin!
For dinner, a coworker gave me a few recommendations of restaurants in the area. I narrowed it down to two and asked the hotel concierge for advice. He suggested the Peace Villa Mansion (Shanghainese cuisine) over the Coconut Paradise (Thai food) as the mansion is historic, majestic, unique. I enjoyed the walk as it brought me in another new direction: behind the hotel. What's next - above or below?

At the Peace Villa, quickly discovered I was the only English speaking person there. No matter, I hadn't come for the conversation, and the photo menu technically was in English, although that was no help as the dishes were named "Buddha jumps over the wall" and "Braised 8-Treasure with Soy Sauce" - the photos weren't much help either. I selected the 8-Treasure, having no idea what they might be, and gestured to what looked like shrimp and beef entrees in the menu in an attempt to get them to point to what might be included in the treasure. No luck, and I almost accidentally ordered a bunch of dishes ;)

While studying the menu, they brought over a bunch of random stuff: fruit salad (3 cherries, apple slice, 2 strawberries, passionfruit slice, half of a kiwi), a little glass cup of tea with refills, warm creamy milk in a bowl with tapioca pearl balls and cubes, a little cup with perhaps tiny brine shrimps, another little dish with - I really have no idea what these are - maybe octopus eggs in ink??

The drink menu was equally unique. There were a few juices, sodas, beers. Wine only by the bottle. Then I noticed the 9300 RMB ($1350 USD) teas and 2988 RMB ($410 USD) bottles of liquor (they don't seem to serve by the shot).

My best guess having now had the 8 treasures - using the photos in the menu as a key - is: cashews, peas, duck neck, tofu, water chestnut, shark liver, braised pigeon, and soy sauce. If anyone has any thoughts, please fill in this na├»ve traveler!

After dinner, popped by the office to check on my most important project that I came out here for. So far, so good! I have to pop by again twice more this weekend, but I should be able to get out and enjoy the nightlife too. Stay tuned for another exciting adventure!

4 comments:

The other Olga said...

if your picture shows "octopus eggs in ink" in the right hand corner, they look surprisingly like olives...

Dave said...

I don't know, it was scary looking.

TangueraBird said...

Khm...I also thought these are olives...

Dave said...

you should've seen them up close, they were cloudy and veiny!!! i was afraid to even put a knife in them! and i swear to you they had no little little dip where the stem had been - how can you trust a person with a belly button?!