Thursday, September 07, 2006

September Team Dinner




Thought I would offer a snap of one of our vans. The great thing about Shanghai traffic is that it can be a great equalizer.

Two vehicles leave Point A at 7:30PM. Vehicle A is traveling at 29 KPH while Vehicle B is traveling at 32 KPH. The length of the trip is 14 kilometers. Which vehicle arrives at the destination first?

The answer of course is Vehicle A. Two cars in convoy in the US might not see each other during the entire trip. Here, it's a back and forth relationship which allows the travelers to have some conversations across the space between the two cars during the trip over. It's a nice chance to catch up, share a little exhaust and make plans for later.

The restaurant of choice on this occasion was located in a big, sprawling complex of buildings that appeared to be an older hotel. We drove perhaps 10 minutes around the place along little lanes with each turn punctuated by a crisply uniformed guard wearing white gloves and offering a salute. To my eye it appeared to be some sort of pre-war compound, perhaps an old embassy. I do think it was roughly in the French Quarter, which is the area of the colonal consulated. Even at night, it made it clear that it was a stately and elegant place. After many turns, we finally pulled up and entered the place.

As always we went off to a large room with multiple tables. This time we were greeted with a table full of bottles of Tiger beer and plenty of glasses. The tables were set with a host of cold appetizers. We sat and dug in.

Having a person at your table with knowledge of the local cuisine is always a benefit. The first courses consisted of some jellied meats, dried whole fish, chopped bamboo shoots with soy beans, a mushroom dish, slices of whole chicken (skin and bones included) floating in some sort of clear broth, sliced jellied lotus root, and my favorite - steamed jellyfish.





Above you can see a few sample shots - the panorama, the chopped bamboo shoots, the jellyfish and the dried little brown fish.

After appies and more beer the main courses started to appear, one by one. Gelatinous giant pork loin (quite tasty), peppered beef (at least I suspect it was beef), some crab dish and a lobster plate (mercifully pre-expired). A local delicacy, orange-flavored river fish (pretty sure that means Carp) was up next and it was surprisingly tasty, once you got past the presentation.

A course of Shark-fin soup left me wondering though. Wondering specifically if the translucent semi-rigid hairs floating in the creamy yellow broth constituted the inside of a shark's fin. It didn't taste bad, it just tasted weird.

We finished off the dinner with some nice spinach pancakes and some dumplings - both palatably unchallenging and yet tasty. The final course was more beer.

Overall, this dinner did not come close to the Live Catch Cafe from last February, but it did include enough oddities to make it clearly known that we were not dining at Macaroni Grill.

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