Friday, January 28, 2011

Shanghai: big family dinner at Jade Garden restaurant

The biggest dinner we had in Shanghai occurred on January 8 at a grandiose restaurant on Zhaojiabang Road called Jade Garden, and involved two round tables of 10-11 people each.  Although service was strangely slow, the dishes were certainly impressive.

First, Drunken Chicken:

Next, some sort of meat (probably beef) in aspic:

Kao fu (baked spongy wheat gluten), a Shanghai specialty:

Then there was a "salad" of lettuce leaves with peanut sauce - a rather strange inclusion, so we'll skip the picture and move on to tofu skin:

River shrimp (we had this preparation at several meals in China; the shrimp are steamed and then - I think - briefly tossed in a barely perceptible, slightly starchy sauce.  You eat the shrimp with a little vinegar, and it's incredibly simple and good):

Here are most of the appetizers on my plate:

Now, moving on to hot dishes, beginning with wheat gluten with vegetables in a tomato-based sauce:

"Drumstick mushroom" with baby bok choy:

Eel, in a traditional Shanghai-style preparation (also a dish I love):

Some sort of beef:

Tea-smoked duck with gorgeous little seashell-shaped steamed buns.  This duck was amazingly tender:

Sea-bass, slow-cooked with "red-braised pork" (hong shao rou) in a clay pot:

Pressed tofu skin (bai ye):

Whole sea cucumber, served to each diner.  Sea cucumber has no taste of its own, so everything depends on the sauce in which it is prepared/served, and this sauce was the perfect balance of sweet and savory.  Apparently these sea cucumbers that are served whole (as opposed to bite-size pieces in a shared dish) are even more of a delicacy.

Fish-head soup.  I should point out that this fish head and the tureen that contained it were simply enormous.  Also, the soup was delicious.

"Snacks" to end, beginning with a fried rice cake:

Sheng jian bao (pan-fried pork dumplings):