One of the things that just blew my mind was to go into a busy HMV store in Hong Kong, and see DVDs and CDs selling for ten to fifteen dollars. Unbelievable! CDs, DVDs, video games, and software, will all go for somewhere south of $1 in Shanghai. It's entirely widespread. I wonder why there isn't a crackdown, I suspect because it would be a serious impact on the quality of life.
But perhaps the biggest quality of life issue is bootleg hot dogs. China does have hot dogs, they're usually cooked on those cheesy rollers like a 7-11, or sometimes they're barbequed. They don't look like anything special, and I'd never gotten around to eating one. Until, right across from Fuzhou Lu in People's Square, I noticed a new shop going up last week.
Yes that's right, Top Dog - or Mac Dog, perhaps the "Mac" comes from McDonald's??? This won't mean much to most people, as it's a Berkeley-based chain with just six locations, one inside a drug store. I'm not much of one for hot dogs, and I rarely went to the Top Dog in downtown Oakland, as the same price got you much better food just a block or two away. Still, it's a good place to go for a late night snack. For those not in the know, here's a Top Dog Menu in Oakland. It uses a more modern-looking version of the Mr. Hot Dog logo, but other Top Dog mascots look exactly the same.
They do the same gourmet hot dog thing, although the Chinese version has a much better selection of milk teas, shown elsewhere on the menu.
I asked a lady who works there about the place. She was very friendly, and said her husband worked at a Top Dog for half a year, and wanted to bring back the hot dogs because they don't have them in China. I pointed out that hot dogs are common, which they are, and she replied that they're too expensive. A strange comment, as $.90 cents for a hot dog is definitely expensive by Shanghai standards. On the other hand, I'm sure those other hot dogs aren't nearly as good. The hot dog I got (Garlic Sausage - Pork) was right tasty, although the bun was a little too substantial and could still use some work.
Update 2/3/2007 - I regret to report that this place now focuses on the sweet drinks and deserts. It still sells hot dogs, but without all the flavors and variations, and they use the 7-11 style rollers.
Update 2/23/2009 - There isn't Mac Dog anymore.