Easy dining in Shanghai, Guangzhou
Perhaps you can help-- you always have before! I've got my first ever trip to Asia next week and I'm in the process (as with any great trip!) of identifying where and how to plan my eating. I'll be traveling with a work contingent, so I won't have too much opportunity to sneak away when I'm in China. I've got a couple of days each in Guangzhou and Shanghai and am looking for your CAN'T MISS dining destinations. A couple of principles:
1. I may be dining and traveling solo for these
2. I'm an English speaker but don't speak Cantonese and Mandarin. I know this will make things tougher.
3. I'm "reasonably adventurous" but am not interested in drinking snake blood. :)
4. Would be good to eat at someplace that is easy to get a cab to, and take a cab from.
As for kind of food-- I'm looking for the basics and the classics of each region's food. And any tips you have in general on getting around there, foodwise. I know there have been lots of posts on this board, but I did a look before posting and didn't find quite this question-- so I'll turn it over to you Hounds, who have been SO helpful to me in the past!
PS-- I'll also be traveling to Singapore for several days and will have an opportunity for a meal or two in Narita Airport in Tokyo. I'll make separate posts on the appropriate boards, but VERY happy to have your opinions here, too!
you'll probably find shanghai much easier for non-chinese speakers. there's a lot of good food in shanghai, but for dining alone, i'd do street food, like "yang's fry-dumplings" at wujiang lu (near shimen yi lu) for fried pork dumplings, and baozi (steamed buns) at gao'an lu - very well known amongst locals, expect a queue. it's really hard to eat at a ;proper' chinese restaurant alone, i find, because you often need to order several dishes. that said, i'm sure other shanghai hounds can help.
guangzhou will be more difficult if you don't speak chinese. actually, in both cities, have your hotel write down the address of the places in chinese for the taxi. for breakfast/lunch, you could try ngan gei (or yinji in mandarin) for steamed rice paper rolls - try the one with beef, they should have photos there - (v. typical cantonese yum cha/breakfast food). they have several around town, the original on xiajiu lu (literally "down nine road" - one of the city's main thoroughfares) is prob the best. again it's a streetfood-ish place - very simple shop where you can eat alone.
The disadvantages of having Chinese food alone are self-evident, and the fried dumplings (shengjian bao) are a great suggestion for Shanghai if you are the type that can make a meal out of grazing. I don't know what's left since they renovated parts of Wujiang Lu, but there was also a vendor of great "stinky tofu" near Yang's in the past. Otherwise, hear a re a couple of "easy" suggestions:
1) I usually hate to recommend it because it is horribly overpriced by local standards (though certainly not for business travellers), but Din Tai Fung at Xintiandi might fill the bill. They make an excellent version of xiaolong bao (their signature dish) and you can't really leave Shanghai without trying a good version of xiaolong bao. Menus are in English, and the servers speak it as well. An order each of regular pork XLB and of crab XLB plus a soup and/or another appetizer will make a hearty meal. Xintiandi is also easy to get a cab to.
2/F, Unit 11A South Block, Xintiandi, 123 Xingye Lu, Xin Tian Di
near Huangpi Nan Lu, Metro Line 1 Huangpi Nan Lu Station
2) If you are extra hungry, or find someone to dine with, you also might look for the closest branch of Shanghai Uncle (there are two plus one in Pudong), which also has English menus and serves contemporary versions of Shanghai classics.
211 Tianyaoqiao Lu, Xujiahui
near Nandan Lu, Metro Line 1 Xujiahui Station
222 Yan'an Dong Lu, People's Square
near Jiangxi Zhong Lu, Metro Line 1, 2 & 8 People's Square Station
近江西中路, 地铁1, 2, 8号线人民广场站