Location: Shanghai, China
I have come to embrace days when I do not do sightseeing while travelling. These days are for recharging and slowing down.
Today was one of those days of very slow travel.
Going to the wrong Grandma’s Place
In the morning, we headed to what I thought was a branch of Grandma’s Place (外婆家). This is a famous chain of restaurant in Hangzhou. We didn’t make it there because there was always a gigantic queue in front of the place.
However, when we got to that particular restaurant, it felt weird. The sign said “Grandma’s Place” in Chinese but it looked like a pokey little place instead of the grand chain that we saw.
I couldn’t remember where the other branches of Grandma’s Place were so we stood outside Costa Coffee for its free WI-Fi. While we were searching, Nicole suggested that we head to Xiao Yang’s Place for 生煎包 (shengjianbao) which our mutual friend had recommended. Then I remembered that there was a Grandma’s Place branch there so off we went in search of food.
The fake Granma’s Place is situated just outside of the Chenghuang Shopping area so we had to swim through crowds to get to the subway station.
Once we were at the right stop, it took a while to find Grandma’s Place since I didn’t record the address. Nicole used Costa Coffee’s Wi-Fi to figure out where to go.
Grandma, what big bowls you have!
The branch that we went to occupied the whole 7th level of a shopping mall. It was like a maze trying to get to our table. Since it was still a bit too early for lunch, we didn’t have to wait for our table.
We ordered what we thought would feed 2 people nicely. But what came out seemed to be a nice meal for four.
Of course, we ate them all (except a bit of dessert).
Our next to-do list was to eat shengjianbao at Xiao Yang. However, we were still very full from lunch so we had to pass time before eating again.
We spent much of our time in Costa Coffee, surfing the internet. I dearly miss apps such as Facebook and Twitter but I had to satisfy myself with repeatedly looking at Instagram and WeChat. It was a very difficult period.
After sitting in the café one hour too long, we went off to do a bit of shopping. Yes, it was only “a bit”. My favorite clothes store UNIQLO has awesome shops in Shanghai. While we were there, its largest worldwide flagship store was opened somewhere in Shanghai but I didn’t go because we didn’t have time.
Finally, it was time for tea. There was already a queue at Xiao Yang. Unlike the Nanxiang branch we went to yesterday, Xiao Yang’s employees do not help customers look for seats. Instead, Nicole found a table while I queued for the shengjianbao.
Unfortunately for me, my order of 8 mini buns lacked just one bun and I had to wait for the next batch.
At XIao Yang (or at least the two branches that I’ve been to), the buns are cooked constantly so you won’t get anything chilled. The main cook prepares the buns by arranging a pan full of raw buns in hot oil. The buns are arranged with the usual top (the swirly part) on the pan so the flat part remains white and fluffy.
The cook then shifts the pan from side to side so the oil scalds all the buns. This process takes forever since I was only waiting for ONE. After the buns are fully cooked, the cook shifts it to another pan from where the food is served. The assistant then scatters sesame seeds and some Chinese green onion-like thing before scooping the cooked buns onto plates.
The most fun part about these shengjianbao is the soupy inside. When you bite into a Xiao Yang bun, the soup flows out and you have to slurp it up fast. It takes me about 2 slurps to suck the thing dry. Then you eat the meat along with the crunchy part. It is divine.
After our meal, it was time to head back to the hotel. Nicole had to catch a flight at 1am so we couldn’t go shopping.
Follow my (2 weeks late) adventures in China:
Day 1 Misadventures at Hangzhou Airport [YQasia Day 1 Sep 26]
Day 2 Swindlers and bicycle misadventures at West Lake
Day 3 Bike returning at West Lake/ Staying with a cute baby [YQasia Day 3 Sep 28]
Day 4 To Thousand-Island Lake by bus [YQasia Day 4 Sep 28]
Day 5 Tour of Qiandao Hu (Thousand-Island Lake) [YQasia Day 5 Sep 30]
Day 6 Buying tix to Shanghai/ Eating on a floating platform in middle of nowhere [YQasia Day 6 Oct 1]
Day 7 A very Chinese wedding [YQasia Day 7 Oct 2]
Day 8 A very Chinese hotel/ 7-hour buses to Shanghai [YQasia Day 8 Oct 3]
Day 9 Exploring Shanghai: Buffet, the Bund and Nanjing East Rd [YQasia Day 9 Oct 4]