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May 1, 2014 03:15 PM

Part II: First Time to Beijing, Shanghai, and Xi'an, Visiting From SF!

And now the 2nd part of my 17 night, 5 city trip (this is actually the first portion of the trip, however). First will be Beijing, then a quick hop to Xi'an, and then Shanghai, before continuing to Singapore & Hong Kong as discussed in a separate post.

Beijing: 4 nights/days, so basically 4 dinners and 4 lunches, though one day will be at the Great Wall...Staying in the CBD. We'll do the usual tourist attractions, visit some hutongs, and I really want to venture out and see the Bird's Nest.

Peking Duck-- sounds like it should be between Da Dong and Made In China. Any tie-breakers? Should I just say screw it and try both?

The rest, looking for a nice blend of upscale, casual, street food, local cuisine, other Chinese regions, exciting non-Chinese restaurants...In other words I'll consider anything. Would love to hear about bakery gems and spots with great espresso shots too.

The list shows right now: Temple, Transit, Dali Courtyard, Middle 8, Mosto & Modo, Sureno, Black Sesame Kitchen, Three Guizhou Men, amd Xian Lao Man for dumplings. Sounds like Green T House should be scratched.

Bars: Mai Bar, El Nido, Great Leap Brewing, Migas.

Xi'an: 1 dinner. I've heard about Lao Sun Jia. Can I do better? Shaanxi hand pulled noodles have to be one of my ten favorite food concepts. Big fan of paomo too.

Shanghai: 4 dinners, 3 lunches. Staying on the Bund.

Reserved one dinner at Mr. and Mrs. Bund. Another dinner meeting with people has to be on the Bund, so I'm considering Commune Social/ Table No.1, Mercadito, and M on the Bund for that.

Traditional Shanghai: thoughts between the much written-up original Jesse, Lao Kele, and Jian Guo 328?

XLB: Din Tai Fung for sure (been to Arcadia and flagship in Taipei...have to go here). Should I also try any like Fu De, Jia Jia Tong Bao (not exactly xlb it sounds like), and Yangs?

Other: Considering and would love thoughts on Die Yuan, Butterfly Garden, Cha's, and Fu 1088. Any other suggestions of course appreciated and looking for bakeries and good coffee/espresso too.

Bars: Long list, I won't come close to trying them all: Long Bar Waldorf, Jazz Bar Fairmont, Vue Hyatt, Flair Ritz, Glamour Bar, Alchemist, El coctel, Bar Untouchable, Mojito Heaven, Banyan's Ba, Salon de Ning Peninsula, House of Roosevelt, Boxing Cat Brewery

Cheers and thanks so much for your help!

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  1. I don't know how it is these days, but when I went in 2005, De Fa Chang in Xi'an had some rad walnut (and other) dumplings.

    2 Replies
    1. re: BuildingMyBento

      The dumpling tasting looks pretty epic there...definitely will consider it. But my hope with just one real meal in town is to try the Shaanxi knife cut chilled noodles and pao ma. Lao Sun Jia is known for the pao ma...but I'm guessing there's a great option I don't know about somewhere.

      1. re: BuildingMyBento

        Walnuts are definitely a Xian thing.

      2. Do not go for two Beijing duck meals! There are too many great meals to be had to have the same meal twice.

        Definitely Three Guizhou Men. I believe there are two locations in operation, I went to the one near the worker's stadium. Get the fried ribs and the eggplant.

        Go for as much variety as possible. There are so many cuisines to try. I am not familiar enough with specific recs, but here are some cuisines you may want to search for:


        Then there are the usual suspects of Yunnan, Hunan, and Sichuan for which you may already have options in SF. I assume in Xian you'll get a crack at Uighur or Xinjiang food, which is a must.

        In Shanghai, Yang's Fry Dumplings and Jia Jia Tang Bao are right acorss the street from each other (around the corner from the Park Hotel on Huanghe Lu). Can't get more convenient than that! JJTB are indeed xlb - or at least the only item I saw were xlb. At JJTB I recommend the pork/crab combo or if in season get the crab. Yang's will be making their shengjian bao out on the sidewalk in front, so it's easy to order.

        Have only been to Jesse. Excellent experience. If they have the wild herbs wrapped in tofu (seasonal), get that.

        11 Replies
        1. re: Steve

          Definitely will try Three Guizhou Men and just one duck (leaning to Da Dong). Now you've got me researching all those other cuisines!

          1. re: Steve

            I wouldn't have minded two Peking duck meals whilst in Beijing - they really do that well, compared to their rendition of other regional Chinese cuisines there.

            1. re: klyeoh

              I was taken to a bunch of regional restaurants in Beijing by a Chowhound who lived there and traveled extensively throughout China. They were exceptional meals.

              1. re: Steve

                I'm *not* saying other regional Chinese cuisines in Beijing are bad - it's just that Beijingers do Peking duck best.
                Which restaurants did you try that were exceptional?

                1. re: klyeoh

                  Went to Noodle Loft, Three Guizhou Men, Zi Shia Sichuan Restaurant, and Xinjiang Muslim Restaurant. The shweijuyu with whole carp cut up into chunks-was great at the Sichuan restaurant. Not sure how it's done in SF.....

                  The last two are hole-in-the-wall places on Xinzhong Jie near the Workers' Gymnasium. Not sure I could find them on my own or through the internet.

                  1. re: Steve

                    I normally use the Yellow Pages phonebook in my hotel room to find eateries which may interest me - sometimes to hilarious results!

                    1. re: klyeoh

                      Ha! I'm sure their beer list is impressive.

                      1. re: klyeoh

                        Oh my! That's worth a try for the novelty.

                        1. re: pats38sox

                          No! LOL!
                          But it's an incorrect English translation anyway - the Chinese characters did not mention pork at all, but merely the tripe.

                2. I am in the same boat you are. Da Dong had made top of my list for duck above Made In China, a close second.
                  I want to try all 4 compass points.
                  It's hard to to try to get it all working.

                  1. I had excellent meals at Fu 1088, Jesse, and DTF last year (I live in SF too). How many others are you travelling with? You should pre-order at Jesse if you choose to go there:

                    The style of sheng jian bao at Yang's isn't something you can get in the Bay Area, so you should seek that out. There are several locations and it's cheap.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: hyperbowler

                      There will just be 2 of can't make too much of a dent in the menu. Definitely have to do the fish head w/ scallions (pre-ordered), the dates stuffed w/ glutinous rice, and tofu wrapped wild herbs. Red braised pork might be overkill though unless it's obligatory...or a small serving available?

                      Definitely will try Yang's and Jia Jia, along with Din Tai Fung. Anybody been to Jian Guo 328?

                      1. re: pats38sox

                        Do you plan to have a red braised dish somewhere else in Shanghai? If not, I'd say the pork belly is obligatory and could serve that purpose.

                        It's a very rich dish, so even if you ordered it as your one entree, it wouldn't make for a balanced meal. Expect not to finish it... I think it cost $10 USD, cheaper and tastier than any version in the US, and you can offer some to the travellers at a nearby table :-) (lots of English speakers were in the room)

                        1. re: hyperbowler

                          Always overorder in China. Plane ticket, expensive; food, cheap.

                          Red braised pork is very time-consuming to make. If you find it in the States, most likely they cheat and use shortcuts.

                          1. re: Steve

                            Haha, good points. Will definitely pre-order the red pork and fish head. If they're finished, they're finished. If's not exactly the $ of French Laundry.

                            Now I'm hoping Jesse isn't losing quality despite all of us English speakers going there nowadays...

                            1. re: pats38sox

                              For what it's worth, I had to make the reservation through the hotel concierge because no one at Jesse spoke English :-)

                              It's listed in the 2010 shanghai lonely planet, so Jease is definitely not an under the radar kind of place. Heh, everyone at Din Tai Feng was a tourist but the lack of locals crowding the place made for easy seating and we had a great meal.

                    2. Should add to Beijing I just saw that Ippudo opened there in Kerry Centre...getting ramen doesn't really seem right (though it is from China originally, right?) but I've always wanted to try an Ippudo and have no idea when I'd get a chance in NY or Tokyo.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: pats38sox

                        Ramen, don't.

                        Since you only have one meal in Xian, you could always do Noodle Loft in Beijing - this is the perfect place to have zha jiang mian, a Beijinger staple. Also lotus root salad, stir fry with walnuts, and the honeycomb noodles with fatty meat sauce.....

                        1. re: Steve

                          Definitely now have Noodle Loft on the to do list. I had been meaning to ask about a good place to try Zha Jiang Mian. Is there a dumpling spot considered a must-hit like Bao Yuan or Xian Lao Man?The latter I'm guessing is a lot like De Fa Cheng in Xi'an.