Eating in Beijing, Shanghai and Xian
I am traveling to Beijing, Shanghai and Xian leaving this Sunday (March 9) and wondered about recommendations in each of those cities.
Chinese cuisine or Western cuisines? Upscale or proletarian? Restaurant food or street food? A week's worth or a day's worth for each city?
There are a lot of threads for Shanghai and Beijing, at least, and a couple for Xi'an too. You might do a little searching and come back with further questions or at least be a bit more specific in what you are interested in.
Well I haven't been there since just after the Cultural Revolution and the guidebook I authored is way outdated foodwise. And in every other respect.... city centers which had nothing but old houses and drab Communist apartment blocks and restaurants called Peoples Restaurant Number Six now have glassy skyscrapers and pizza huts.
It's still true, I think, that in Peking you will find excellent restaurants showcasing the food from all regions of China while in Shanghai the star of the show is the oil-rich luxuriant cuisine of nearby Zhejiang and Jiangsu. Xian I dont know... once the center of China but now a backwater... I think you might find cuisine from much farther west (e.g. Xinjiang) since there's a large Moslem community.
Here are some helpful posts:
re: Brian S
I think things must have changed a little since those post-cultural revolution days - Shanghai has many excellent (and not so excellent) restaurants showcasing all the cuisines of China, as well as far better western food than Beijing (though this is slowly changing).
We regularly eat food from all over China - in the last month I have eaten in Yunnan, Hunan, Sichuan, Guangdong, Guizhou, Shanghainese and Xinjiang restaurants as well as some good and bad western places.
Something that doesn't seem to have been mentioned on here is the appearance of a more refined Shanghainese cuisine, cooked by young chefs who are well aware of culinary trends outside China. One particularly good place I have been recently (three times) is Fu 1088 on Zhenning Lu near Yuyuan Lu. http://www.shmag.cn/review/privilege_0 - some of the more innovative dishes fell flat, but the classic Shanghainese were cooked with great style and none of the excessive oil and sweetness people regularly bemoan. At the same time, I did recently go to Suzhou, eating their food and was shocked by the sweetness of it, so I can see why people complain about the bad versions.
Xi'an's Muslim Quarter has a vast array of different foods to sample. As well as many restaurants (don't let the decor put you off, the food especially dumplings are great) there are street vendors selling all sorts. I recommend trying Shizi bing - a thick fried pancake stuffed with various sweet things - and the barbequed meat sticks. Remember if you are speaking chinese, use Da Rou not Joo Rou to request pork.