Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A Chinese Zagat's, Decent California-Mexican

Feeling guilty about not updating my blog more regularly is pretty low, maybe a little pathetic even. But that's exactly how it is. So now that I've got my SLR set up, a mental list of what I want to talk about, and a stockpile of photos, I hope to come back with a vengeance!

But not quite yet. In this update I'm just passing on two recommendations - first is a Zagat's type site, dianping.com. It's a review of many of the restaurants of Shanghai, and while it mostly concentrates on restaurants on the expensive side (whereas I mostly eat just normal street-side restaurants), it's introduced me to a number of great places and I recommend giving it a try. Like Zagat's, it rates restaurants from one to thirty in three categories, first on taste, then environment, then on service. The listings divide into sub-sections, by type of food or district of the city.

The site is Chinese only, but is usable (if a little weird) run through machine translation into English, from Babelfish or Google Translate.

Here's what they had to say about Thai House, Lao Kele, City Diner, and, uhh, Burger King.

Also, I've resolved to not write anything more about Western Food, at least not for a while. But I very much enjoyed Cal Kitchen, the Cal is for California. So, I'll mention it in passing, and maybe I'll talk about it in the far future if it's still around. Here's a menu:

There's only four things on the menu: Burritos, Quesadillas, Chili, and (oddly enough) Corn Dogs. But the Burrito is in the San Francisco style and actually they do a pretty good job of it - you choose the type of meat, the type of beans, and it all gets wrapped up in tin-foil.

The menu mentions that it's based off instructions and recipes from Los Hermanos, a restaurant in San Francisco. I looked it up, and it's in the yuppie-ish Marina. Cal Kitchen's burrito tastes almost exactly like what you'd expect a burrito purchased in the Marina to taste like, for both better and worse. The chili is decent, and I'll say this is my favorite casual Western restaurant in Shanghai - with the caveat that Western food here is terrible.

It's on 376 Dagu Lu, a street of high-end bars, restaurants, and wine shops, a little South-East of the Nanjing Xi Lu station.

Update 4/28/09 - It moved to Jing'an District, right upstairs from exit #7 of line #2 of the Zhongshan Park Subway station - kind of off to the side as you go up the escalator. It's a small mall-court location that seems to specialize in doing deliveries, and they now also serve Japanese-style dessert crepes. But despite a recent influx of Mexican restaurants to Shanghai, it pains me to say that Cal Kitchen is still the only place in town to get a burrito anywhere near authentic.

Oh, and by a wild coincidince, some friends and I found ourselves by the Marina in San Francisco, and we stopped by Los Hermanos for a burrito. Not very yuppie, but not very good and not very similar. It didn't look like the sort of place to branch out to Shanghai. I didn't ask about it, but I should have.