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Xingli, Shenzhen, China

‘The Mother’ and I wanted a short getaway, there’s a story to why we ended up at Shenzhen for a day or so but I won’t bore you the details. ‘The Mother’ has never been to Shenzhen and he was curious to see what all the fuss (or lack there off) is about. However, unfortunately, for all of us, we did not leave the Ritz Carlton at all! We were upgraded to the executive suite and it was perfect! GIGANTIC bed – 6 human rolls and there were so many restaurants and amenities that we really didn’t leave at all. Mind you, we were only here for a night so we made full use of the hotels facilities.

One of the restaurants that we ate was Xingli which is located on the 4th floor of the hotel. The restaurant offers ‘the finest in sumptuous Chiu Chow cuisine’ and the menu was vast. We asked for recommendations and it did not disappoint.

Started with the crispy chicken and Dragon did not hesitate to eat majority of it. Crispy skin, the chicken was incredibly tender and tasty that you wanted more.

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These triangle shaped tofu was silky smooth and dipped in vinegar were fantastic.

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The pork and vegetables were good but nothing special I thought.

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Last but not least, fish and tofu hot pot – one of ‘The Mother’s’ favourite dish. The fish was slightly pan fried, and the tofu again silky smooth. He pretty much ate the whole thing himself!

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Unfortunately, I was too full to even think about dessert but it did sound good. I have read that the service is appalling but we didn’t have any issues at all – in fact we thought everyone was friendly and very helpful! We and definitely Dragon definitely enjoyed our meal here!

GA’s ratings: 7 / 10

Xingli

116, Fuhua San Road,

Futian District, 518048

Shenzhen, China

Ph: ++86 755 2222 2222

Day 3: Xiamen – cruising around the old quarter and dinner at Seafood Restaurant

Day 3 of Xiamen, it seems like so long ago now that we came and went to Xiamen. After we spent ¾ of the day at Gulangyu Island watching the boys play cricket, we had a pretty relaxing 3rd day. Dragon was up early so we had breakfast at the hotel first, no one else did but just us! She had her congee and I had a bit of eggs as I was craving some. After everyone was up, including ‘The Mother’, we walked around the old quarter again, as the last time we were there, it was quite dark and we didn’t get to see or buy much. I still didn’t buy anything but got to see a little bit more of the Old Quarter than before.

The rest of the crew had not eaten and was starving, so we stopped by Ze He Huang Peanut Soup Shop – we were told that this was a must visit. As the name of the restaurant suggests, this restaurant is famous for the peanut soup!

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Considering I have a nut allergy, I didn’t try any but all my traveling companions did and thought it was sweet and that the peanuts were soft and melted in your mouth. They thought it was ‘different’ but in a good away. I wanted to try the spring rolls, it was weird had sticky rice in it and I couldn’t go past the first bite.

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The place was BUSY! You have to buy ‘tokens’ in order to buy food. I was in heaven, they had all sorts of different snacks. We got some xiao long bao which were good but the skin was a little too thick for my liking.

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I bought some pork buns – not your typical bbq pork buns and they were delicious. Even ate it at night whilst Dragon was sleeping and it still tasted good!

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Not to mention these delicious red bean dessert – my favourite!

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Whilst walking around the old quarter, we noticed this lady making some sort of pancakes, and of course M and I couldn’t resist!

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We thought we would share half and it was good! Seriously good but I was getting full by this stage.

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I dinner location to ‘The Mother’, again this is not something I do very often but he has not disappointed. We went to Shuyou Seafood Restaurant, which was relatively close to our hotel. Again left all the ordering to both M and ‘The Mother’.

Shuyou Seafood Restaurant has 4 floors and one of the largest restaurants I have seen. There was a wedding that evening and we were taken to the top floor and had our own private dining room! We didn’t ask for one, so ‘The Mother’ was a little scared at how much things were going to cost! Thankfully, it wasn’t as expensive as he had anticipated.

We started with these clams – I didn’t have any of this, but ‘The Mother’ said it was tasty and demolished it on his own!

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The crispy skin duck, liver on rice cracker was amazingly tasty. The liver was smooth and rich, but the rice cracker balanced it out. I really loved the crispy skin duck, it wasn’t oily at all and the whole thing just melted in your mouth. Delicious!!!

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We wanted to try a bit of everything so ordered the mix plate – duck, bbq pork and chicken from memory. The bbq pork was fantastic, so was the duck!

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The mushroom and tofu hot pot was simple but tasty.

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We all enjoyed the stir fry beef with green peppercorn. The beef was incredibly tender and the green peppercorn left a tingly sensation on your tongue.

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We were too full for dessert, but I couldn’t stop eating these twist cookies that was on the table. It is one of my favourite Indonesian snacks and was surprised to have found it in China! No doubt I ate my fair share.

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Service was good, even though it was a private room, they didn’t forget about us and food came out relatively quickly. It was definitely a wonderful meal shared between family and friends! Definitely worth the visit if you are in Xiamen.

We had a fantastic time in Xiamen, met some wonderful new friends and we definitely ate well! I really do miss the street hawker food – something that Sydney should have!

Shuyou Restaurant

1-4 / F, Podium Building of Mansion of Bank of China, North Hubin Road

Ph: +86 592 533 8899

Xiamen Day 2: Gulangyu Island and Lotus Court at Marco Polo Hotel

Gulangyu Island is a car-free island off the coast of Xiamen and is a must visit! You can go there by ferry from Xiamen Island in about 5 – 10 minutes. It is renowned for its beaches and winding lanes and its varied architecture. It is also known as Piano Island, as there are over 200 pianos on the island !The island is very pretty, very scenic and had beautiful architecture. What I loved most about it is the street foods – there were so many shops that I didn’t know where to start or should I say where to stop? I wanted to eat everything and believe me, I tried but my stomach really couldn’t take it.

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‘The Mother’ and his cricket team played cricket here on Saturday, and my dear friend and I, M, roamed around the island eating whilst they were playing. We came back again the next day as ‘The Mother’ wanted to walk around and I wanted to do more shopping!

Unfortunately I didn’t take a photo of the boat we went on, as Dragon was asleep and I had my arms around her to protect her from all the pushing and shoving from the people trying to get on the boat! I don’t know why they insisted on going on that particular boat as the boat comes every 10 – 15 minutes! Needless to say, the first time was not a very enjoyable boat ride but the next day was a lot better.

M had these fish balls which had pork inside – I was so sad that I couldn’t have any! Am cutting out all seafood at the moment and these look fantastic! She had it again the next day! Even ‘The Mother’ who is not usually a fan of fish balls really enjoyed these!

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More fish balls drowned in chili sauce / soup.

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I was really curious about these egg custard things, but didn’t try any as I wanted to have something savoury and by the time I was ready for dessert I was too full!

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Cute little biscuits packaging shop.

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Oyster omelette!!! There were so many people making these on the island. The island is quite famous for their seafood but we didn’t have any that day. M and I just wanted to eat street food snacks which we did!

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These xiao long bau were my favourite, 5 for like 5RMB which is less than a dollar! Seriously tasty!

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Stinky tofu – YUM! Obviously the stinkier the better! ha!

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And dessert – mango with sago, tapioca and pearl balls – a little on the sweet side but quite refreshing.

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That evening, the boys went to an all you can eat curry place. However, I wasn’t up for curry and wanted Chinese food. So M and I ate the Chinese restaurant in the Marco Polo Hotel for dinner called lotus court. We could have eaten outside on the side street but with Dragon it was a little hard. She was already restless at the restaurant, I can’t imagine if we went to a street stall!

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We started with the cold meat platter, however the meat weren’t cold and were warm. The tripe and pork were deliciously tender. You can’t see it from the picture but underneath all the mountain of meat were soft, silken tofu.

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The vegetables were nice but nothing to rave about.

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The chicken and ginger soup was full of flavours.

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The dish of the night would have to be the braised pork belly! It was incredibly tender, incredibly fatty and incredibly sinful but scrumptiously good!

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Service was quick and efficient and definitely friendly. The food was good and everything else on the menu looked good. Definitely worth coming back.

Deliciously full, I went back to the room, put Dragon to sleep and had a date with candy crush! It was a good day of eating, and believe me, day 3 was no different!

GA’s ratings: 7 / 10

Lotus Court

Marco Polo Hotel

8 Jianye Road, Hubin Bei,

Xiamen 361012, Fujian, China

Ph: +86 (592) 509 1888

Xiamen – Day 1

‘The Mother’, Dragon and I and along with ‘The Mother’s’ cricket team all went to Xiamen for the Easter long weekend. It was a cricket tour – it didn’t occur to me when ‘The Mother’ mentioned it to me that he was actually going to play cricket against another team… in Xiamen. I had interpreted that statement as his cricket team mates going to Xiamen for the Easter break! Hence I was very much surprised when ‘The Mother’ started packing his cricket gear! And yes – they wore their whites and one of them even bought a helmet! It was all very serious and professional! HA!

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Our flight was delayed which annoyed me a little – nothing worse than sitting around waiting for your flight! Waste of my time, and I could definitely have slept in! However, we finally arrived in Xiamen and we were ALL starving! We stayed at the Marco Polo Hotel which was quite nice and had a lot of designer shops downstairs. ‘The Mother’ made a smart remark to the captain ‘I think you have made me poor this weekend’ meaning that he thought I was going to buy a bag or two in Xiamen – seriously? I would have but not in Xiamen!

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In case you are wondering where Xiamen is, it is located in the Fujian province, in the southeastern coast of China. It is seriously not what I expected, but then again, I wasn’t sure what to expect! The city had a bit of history as well as commercial buildings. After checking in, we all went to the Old Quarter which can be found opposite the pier. It’s a maze of old style Chinese markets and tiny streets with LOTS and I mean LOTS of food! The Old Quarter had some amazing architecture, some parts reminded me a little of Europe – yes I kid you not but with less people. I love walking through the markets and shops and the food stalls! I was in heaven!

It was relatively busy though, seems like everyone was there that afternoon / evening, including us! We found a street that had a lot of food and yes, we did try a couple of things.

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These chicken wings on sticks were deliciously tasty!

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These pancakes looked good and I am kicking myself for not trying any!

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We managed to find a restaurant that didn’t look too ghetto or dodgy. I can’t for the life of me remember the name of the restaurant or where it was, but the food was pretty decent and incredibly cheap! We started with some char siu – they were absolutely delicious!

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The abalone soup I didn’t have but was told that it was ‘excellent’.

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The fried rice wasn’t too bad.

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Some vegetables.

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The chicken was a little spicy but full of flavours.

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Last but not least, mapo tofu – my favourite! This was good, and the chili really gave it a nice kick!

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I was too full for dinner, but ‘The Mother’ and the team went to the pub to for drinks and some pub food. I was in bed with Dragon and candy crush!

It was a pretty good afternoon, and the 2nd and 3rd day was even better!

Guyi Hunan, Shanghai

Wow – this post is definitely overdue. It’s from my trip to Shanghai about a couple of months ago. I was researching for places to eat in Shanghai, and Guyi Hunan came up a couple of times. We stumbled across it whilst shopping and thought it was a sign and decided to dine here. Even though it was 5.30pm, the place was already busy with diners – I have heard that you have to go early, otherwise you might have to wait for a while.

I remembered the restaurant being cold, and the waitress offered me a blanket which was nice! Think she thought Dragon might have been cold also! It was noisy though, but the overall décor was simple and nice. The menu was a thick book with fancy pictures which I like – it’s always nice to see pictures when ordering food.

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We started with some salted peanuts and pickled radish.

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‘The Mother’ couldn’t go past the pipis with XO sauce – wow, these were fantastic. The pipis were fresh and chili gave it that nice kick. From memory, ‘The Mother’ ate almost the whole plate! He really enjoyed it.

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We couldn’t go past the duck which was swimming in big chunks of chili! It was spicy, seriously spicy but the duck was incredibly tender that it just fell off the bone.

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Last but not least – my favourite – pork belly. WOW! The pork belly was so tender that it just melted in my mouth. The sauce was sweet but not sickly rich, and I couldn’t help but eat most of it.

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Service was good, very tentative, and food came relatively quickly. I have to say, I was rather impressed and wouldn’t mind dining here again next time I am in Shanghai. Would definitely love to try their other dishes! The frog legs sounded interesting also.

It was a good albeit short trip to Shanghai, both ‘The Mother’ and Dragon enjoyed themselves – no doubt we will be back again either for work or leisure.

GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10

Guyi Hunan Restaurant

89 Fumin Lu

Shanghai

Ph: +86 21 6249 5628

Tea and Steamed Buns, Shanghai

One evening we were looking for a place to eat and we stumbled across Tea and Steamed Buns which is very close to our hotel on Tian Yao Qiao Road in Shanghai. It was quiet by the time we dined, it was about 8pm and there weren’t many people there. However, the next day when we walked past we did notice how busy the place was – a good sign perhaps?

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We started with silken tofu – it was served cold but the tofu was silky smooth and the sauce had a hint of chili which gave it a nice kick.

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‘The Mother’ couldn’t go past the xiao long bao – one of his favourites. I was surprised that we didn’t eat more dumplings in Shanghai – these were the only xiao long bao that we had. I remembered during our honeymoon, when we went to Shanghai, every single meal consisted of some sort of dumplings. These little babies were good but ‘The Mother’ still preferred the one at Din Tai Fung.

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We couldn’t go past the chicken – half a chicken – they were good, however, I found the sauce a little salty which was a shame.

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Last but not least, and probably most important – vegetables.

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Service minimal, food was scrumptious and came out relatively quickly. Definitely wouldn’t mind coming back here and try their other dishes.

GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10

Tea and Steamed Buns

First floor of Ascendas Plaza

No. 323 Tianyaoqiao Road

Xuhui District

Shanghai(near East Nandan Road) ZIP:200030

Mr and Mrs Bund, Shanghai, China

I was traveling to Shanghai for work, and thought I would spend the weekend prior to a busy week of meetings with ‘The Mother’ and Dragon. We had a great time, walking around, shopping, and eating. Even though it was a little bit of a hassle bringing Dragon, she definitely had a great time and I would definitely travel again with her. One of the restaurants I wanted to try was Mr and Mrs Bund. So as soon as we landed in Shanghai and checked into our hotel, we went to The Bund, to Mr and Mrs Bund.

Located on the Bund, Mr and Mrs Bund is a French restaurant from Paul Pairet, which was opened in 2009. It is a contemporary French cuisine with flair and tradition. I love the high ceiling, the plush furniture and the roof deck which has an amazing view of the bund.

The place was relatively quiet on a Friday afternoon; they offer diners lunch sets, 2 or 3 courses for 200hkd or 300 hkd. We were seated immediately and was promptly served with a bread basket which was warm, fresh with crispy exterior and tuna mousse and butter. The tuna mousse had lots of flavour and was delightful but I really do prefer my bread with just butter.

We thought we would get 2 courses each, ‘TheMother’ entrée and main and I, main and dessert. We started with the beef carpaccio, it was good but I thought the cuts of meat were too thick, making it a little chewy. Regardless, it was still quite tasty.

For main, I couldn’t go pas the pork cutlet which was served with apple, croutons, and capers. The pork was incredibly tender; and I have always loved the apple and pork combination.

‘The Mother’ opt for the steak with béarnaise sauce and fries. The steak was cooked to perfection, medium rare, and was melt-in-your mouth tender.

The shoe string fries we both enjoyed.

For dessert, we shared the pomelo which was served with Thai lime and pop rocks!

I never thought that pomelo would go with pop rocks but it did and it was fantastic! I can’t remember the last time I had pop rocks and I loved how it just crackled in my mouth!

Service was fantastic and food was great. Pity it was a little over cast, I am sure the scenery would have been better if it was sunnier. Mr and Mrs Bund won five awards – two Best French, one Best Newcomer, one Best Restaurant runner-up and Restaurant of the year in 2011. Definitely worth going if you haven’t been.

GA’s ratings: 8 / 10

Mr and Mrs Bund

Bund 18, 6/F, 18 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu (near Nanjing Dong Lu)

Shanghai 200002

Shanghai China