Last night we had picked out a restaurant from the Rough Guide China. It called Wang Bao He the king of crabs and that it had been around for 200 years. Since it was close by to our hotel, we decided to give it a shot. We were walking and passed by this restaurant that was completely empty except for two American girls who looked like backpackers. Ha, fools! we thought. As a tourist, why would you go into a restaurant that was completely empty? That’s food rule #1 when traveling: eat where the locals eat. It will taste better and you’re less likely to get sick.
We’re looking for our restaurant and we notice we’ve gone past the address. But we’re confused since we didn’t see it in the last block……OH. And then we realized: it was that place, the one with no one in it except for the two American backpackers. We almost died laughing. Rough Guide China: strike one! Bam! I guess those two girls were led astray by Rough Guide as well. The difference is when that happens to us, we just keep walking until we find something better.
We had walked into a hot pot restaurant the night before but it had an hour wait, so we decided to try our luck again. It seemed like the happening spot, definitely where all the cool hipsters go to eat in Shanghai. Not sure what the Chinese name is, but it says Top Spicy on the sign.
The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show was blasting on the screen and we had about a 15 minute wait, not too bad. Since I can only read extremely basic Chinese and have a huge American accent, I’ve been needing the waitresses’ help in ordering food. There’s a lot of food in China that we just don’t have in the States, so sometimes it’s a challenge.
Me: Can you recommend what to order? What’s good here?
Waitress: How about alskdjfdslk?
Me: Huh? What’s that?
Waitress: (looks around at other tables) It’s that over there. It’s our house specialty.
Me: (still have no idea what it is) So…uh…what kind of meat is it?
Waitress: It’s s;ldkfjslkdjf.
Me: (still have no idea) Oh…okay. Sure, let’s get one of those.
Mike is laughing because this happens for probably 80% of what we order. He doesn’t understand the exchange but he just sees the waitress looking around to point at another dish every time I don’t understand. Pretty soon, I just start laughing because I don’t know anything she’s recommending me! I just tell her, I don’t really know, so just order me anything!
Waitress: So, what do you want to drink?
Me: We’ll get 1 beer and can I have tea?
Waitress: Sorry, we don’t have tea.
Me: Okay, can I get water?
Waitress: Water? You want water?? No…you shouldn’t drink water, what a shame. How about some preserved plum juice?
No water or tea! She looked offended that I wanted just water with dinner lol. Okay okay, another beer then. So here’s the finished result, half Sichuan broth, half herbal. Sichuan broth was way too spicy for me! Totally numbed your tongue.
Top Spicy Hot Pot
We ordered some unidentified fish with red pepper flakes (on the right) and what I think was duck intestine (left)? I have no idea. If you think you know, let me know!
Unidentified Food Order
We had a tower of vegetables next to our table and two of them I had no idea what they were either. One was a light green stalk and another was some sort of starchy root vegetable…yucca maybe?
Anyhow, it was all delicious and we had a ton of fun trying to taste and decipher what everything was. The only thing that was not pleasant were all the smokers around us (you can smoke pretty much anywhere in China—even in our “non-smoking” hotel). The guy next to us had at least 5 during the course of dinner! My allergies were definitely acting up and the spicy Sichuan broth didn’t help either.
We had way too much food, definitely were stuffed by the end. Dinner for two: 296 RMB, or around $42.
Oh, and this was funny. They give you a ziploc bag to put your phone in, so it doesn’t get dirty while you eat. Everyone has their phone out!
Keep Your Phone Safe
Our clothes still smell like spicy hot pot today, even though they give you chair covers to protect your jackets.