Today was interesting. First, a little bit about our hotel. We first started staying at this hotel back in the early to mid- 1990′s.
We didn’t know it at the time but the hotel services mostly military officers. We always wondered why there were always men, dressed in black waiting in the lobby. There black Buick sedans parked outside. The men were retired military that were hired as drivers for the officers. Whenever we passed through the lobby, we felt there were eyes on us but we didn’t know why at the time. I think they were wondering what kind of connections we had or rank we were (we looked more like tourists). Sometimes ignorance is bliss.
As the years went by, the hotel became less “military” and more like a regular hotel. One drawback of becoming more “tourist friendly” was that the room rates also became more tourist oriented.
We also kept coming back to this hotel because of a “family style” restaurant that was next door. The food was inexpensive, the portions were large, and the taste was great. On the visit previous to our last trip (pre-blog), the restaurant changed owners and the quality and quantity of the food suffered. There was less of an incentive to return to the hotel.
This time, we think because of the Shanghai Expo, there was very little choice of affordable hotel rooms. The Yanan Hotel had rooms available. While it was not our hotel of choice, the rates were not excessively expensive.
So anyway, back to today. Breakfast was at the hotel.
Breakfast Dining Room and Buffet Tables
A Sampling of Breakfast Selections
The hotel always had a decent selection for breakfast. The problem was we normally stayed no less than ten days in Shanghai. After a while, we would get tired of the selections offered.
Fried Rice with Preserved Doufu
I’ve noticed that fried rice in China tends to have a few ingredients in it, unlike fried rice back at home where everything but the kitchen sink (an sometimes even the kitchen sink is thrown in). Must be a modification that happened after the recipe left the country.
Baked/Fried Bread with Sesame Seeds
This bread was great! The balance of crispy outside, soft/chewy inside, sesame seeds and salt was perfect.
In the early afternoon, we were supposed to meet one of Y’s contacts at a coffee shop. From our hotel, we needed to transfer a couple of subway lines to get to the coffee shop. On one of the transfers, the doors of the train were closing just as we were boarding. The Cat jumped forward, The Mouse jumped backward to avoid the doors. The doors closed with The Cat and The Mouse on opposite sides of the doors. The train left the station with The Cat. The Mouse was still on the platform.
I told The Cat to get off at the next station and I would catch the next train and catch up. The Cat thought to get off at the next station and go back one station. After not seeing The Cat for several stations, I retraced the route back to the hotel. The Cat thought she had to sing “Somewhere Out There.”
The bad thing was that I didn’t have enough money in my pocket to eat lunch. Our friend back in Beijing gave us some of the fresh dates which we hauled all over. Good thing. I ate those for lunch.
The crunch and taste more like apples than dates. The Chinese call them dates so dates they are.
The good thing is that on my way back to the hotel, I looked in the window of the family style restaurant we used to frequent, I thought I saw the former owner inside. But that story is in the next post.
The Cat didn’t fair that well either. At the coffee shop, she only had coffee, no lunch.
On their way back (The Cat and her brother), they bought custard tarts from a vendor in the subway station.
The Last One
Whenever we took the subway, we would smell fresh baked custard tarts at one section of the station. In a tiny little corner of the subway, there was a vendor baking fresh custard tarts. We always wanted to try it. The Cat bought four on her way back to the hotel. These were the best custard tarts ever! It’s The Cat’s favorite.
Dinner was with The Cat’s brother, Y , The Cat’s nephew, J, The Cat’s sister-in-law L, and her family. Two dishes that stood out was a shredded celery salad.
The dressing came separately. A combination of orange juice concentrate, vinegar, honey, and something else (I didn’t catch it).
Mixing the Dressing
It came in a goblet which the server mixed. Before mixing, the colors were layered like a rainbow (either the server was to fast, or I was too slow).
The Finished Salad
The salad was good. The dressing was very refreshing. The dressing is something I would try at home (I need to figure out the last ingredient).
The other dish was the fried noodles. It’s the simple dishes that sometimes are the ones that stand out.
In my opinion, the other dishes were either too fancy or too rich. I prefer more vegetables.
Family gatherings are always interesting.
The journey continues, we’re almost through.
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