China – 10 Cities in 19 Days: Shanghai

So here’s the part of the trip that things started to get crazy. It’s from Shanghai that we joined an 8 day tour that had us visiting a new city/town almost everyday. We finally saw signs of  blue sky and clean air! My search for throat drops ended here.
Third stop: Shanghai (Sept. 25-26)
By the time we arrived at the hotel, it was close to dinner (we were delayed an hour leaving Xi’an). We had a lot of food we wanted to try, with limited stomach space we had to choose carefully. It happened to be the season for the Mitten Crab (大闸蟹) so we each had one that night. They weren’t very big and it was actually quite a bit of work to eat it….it got a bit messy…. but paired with the vinegar, it was worth the work. Then of course we had to have the Shanghai Steamed Dumplings (小笼包)!
After dinner we walked a couple of the streets around the hotel, there were a lot of outdoor “restaurants” with dishes and dishes of amazing looking seafood. You just choose what you want and they make it for you on the spot. It started to rain really hard suddenly so we ran back to the hotel and called it a night.

The next morning, we went to a section of The Bund. It was too bad we were short on time here, I would’ve like to see the older section of The Bund and the Oriental Pearl Tower up close.

New Heaven & Earth District
These cafes, shops and restaurants were originally traditional shikumen (“stone door”) houses. Now it’s a pedestrian only shopping/entertainment district.

Old Town God’s Temple Street

There were so many places to buy food here, I couldn’t help myself and had to try one of these dumpling/bun things with a straw. Turns out the straw was useless – not sure why they even have them there, but the overall bun was not bad.
Yes – that’s a Starbucks…they weren’t hard to find in China.

That’s it, our stop in Shanghai was very short but we did consider not stopping here in the beginning but I’m glad we had the chance to see it and of course…..enjoy the food 🙂


Vietnamese Crab Cake Noodle Soup (Bún Riêu)

After having that delicious bowl of Bún Riêu for in Oakland, it’s been on my mind. After talking to my husband about locating a good restaurant for it, I decided to make my own. He said I’d find most ingredients I’d need at this Vietnamese grocery store in an area of town recently designated as Little Saigon.

Prior to heading there, I Googled some recipes to get an idea on what ingredients would be required. I wandered the aisles a bit and got confused. I asked one of the guys stocking the shelves for some help and he started to put things into my basket. When he was done, I was armed with various jars and bags. He said all I needed now was the meats and eggs. So in the evening, I went to get the meats.

So using the instructions from the guy at the store and a couple of recipes online, I started to put everything together. Instead of making my soup base from scratch out of pork bones, I used a box of chicken broth, I’m not sure if it makes a huge difference but it saves a lot of work. A food processor with also save you some time but hand-chopping works too.


6 cups chicken broth
3 cups water
4 teaspoons spicy crab paste
1 tablespoon dried shrimp, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
4-6 Roma tomatoes, washed & cut into quarters
1 pack of fried tofu cubes

Crab cake:
1/2 pound ground pork (I used lean)
1/2 pound prawns (fresh)
3 tablespoon dried shrimp, minced
1 cup of crab meat, drained 
(crab can be frozen, canned or fresh. I used 2 cans of 120g)
1 can of mince crab in spices
1 shallot, minced
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon shrimp paste
1/2 teaspoon sugar
few splashes of fish sauce
1-2 eggs

1. Peel prawns and save tails and heads. Mince the meat or grind in food processor
2. In a large pot, bring water and chicken broth to a simmer and add in prawn tails and heads, simmer low
3. Combine crab meat mixture together, add in 1 egg to start if you find the mixture too dry and not sticking together, add an extra, cover and refrigerate mixture
4. Scoop out heads and tails from broth
5. Using a bit of the broth in a small bowl, combine spicy crab paste and tomato paste until dissolved. Pour into broth
6. Put chopped dried shrimp into broth and bring to a boil
7. Take meat mixture out and slowly slide burger patty sized “cakes” into soup. Try not to stir the soup too much after this point or your cake will crumble
8. Add in tomatoes, tofu and a few splashes of fish sauce
9.  Make noodles according to the packaging (boil appox. 5-10 mins) rinse with cold water to stop them from cooking
10. When the cake floats, it’s almost done, you can break the cake up a bit to check – you can break of the cake a bit in the soup is fine
11. Serve with herbs. (This is what I was told to serve the noodles with but I’m not sure what kind of greens these are…)







You have to look kind of close but you cans see one of my crab cakes starting to float at the top

I prefer the thicker, round rice vermicelli (first photo and the green packaging), but my husband prefers the thinner rice stick vermicelli noodles (red packaging)