Monday, July 15, 2013

Shanghai Min 小南國 ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥


Published in Manila Bulletin Sunday Lifestyle Section, July 14, 2013

Hong Kong Eats: Shanghai Min 

I know Hong Kong as a food mecca (oh believe me, this 160-lb body knows!), but even though I lived in the city for quite a few years, I had eaten at exactly zero Chinese restaurant that I REALLY, REALLY liked. I began to worry that my expectations were too high... That is, until my Ahia Emil brought me to Shanghai Min.



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I wasn’t expecting much, knowing the restaurant to be quite a giant chain with just too many branches around Beijing, Shanghai and Ningbo among other provinces of China, not to mention the one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight outlets in Hong Kong alone. (Whoa!) I walked into the modern and classy 12th floor Times Square restaurant with absolutely no idea that in a few minutes I was going to have one of my best meals of the year.


The lovely thing about Shanghainese food is the simple and fresh ingredients, clean flavors and no-fuss presentation which was evident most especially in our appetizer named “Shredded chicken, clear noodles and sesame dressing.” The three elements rested atop a bed of crisp cut up lettuce. I didn’t know if this was a salad or a noodle dish but when something looks and smells this good, you do not try to analyze. You just dig in. I tossed everything together and slurped up the sesame sauce-covered slippery fat noodles while parting my lips just quick enough to take in the tender, silky chicken strips. I am sure in the process I splattered a bit of the nutty sauce here and there, but my chubby cheeks did not seem to mind.


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Shredded Chicken, Clear Noodles, Sesame Dressing



Everyone I know knows I love fat, especially in the form of crab fat. Oh, the sight of pudgy orangey mess excited every molecule in me. I hurried up the photo-taking process so I could tuck into the yum. And tucked I did. I tucked the wok-fried hairy crab cream and egg into the crispy, flaky sesame pockets until it looked as pregnant as me, and then I tucked the whole fatty baby into my mouth. Mmmm… the heavenly taste of cholesterol.


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Crab Roe Cream and Egg with Crispy Sesame Puffs



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My Cholesterol Puff



And then the Chinese Surf and Turf. “Prime angus beef wok-fried with shrimps,” the menu said. Well, those were some of the most succulent shrimps (I’d say prawns) paired with tender cubes of beefy goodness. There is something very special about the flavor and aroma of food fried over high heat in a Chinese wok. 


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Wok-Fried Prime Angus Beef with Shrimps



The River Shrimps Stir-Fried in Tea Leaves, a very typical Shanghainese dish, was arranged in a very untypical fashion – a heart! I couldn’t help but smile at the shape… and then at the sweet, subtle taste of these babies. I drizzled some red vinegar on them and spooned a hundred pieces each time into my mouth. Next time I want to try the little crustaceans stir-fried in egg yolk. Just the thought of if makes me want to twirl about and do the happy dance.


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River Shrimps Stir Fired with Tea Leaves



There was no Peking Duck at Shanghai Min, but there was this crispy deboned duck served with all the works – steamed wrapper, cucumber, scallions and hoisin sauce. It was a different take, and one that worked mighty fine.


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Crispy Deboned Duck



There is no other way to say this. The food at Shanghai Min was really good. I actually liked everything we ordered, which is unheard of for me. But a few dishes really stood out, like the Steamed Shad Fish. The meat was as tender as a baby’s cheek, and one small chunk packed so much flavor and omega-3 fatty acids that you need not eat a lot. Aside from the friggin’ bones issue, the fish was amazing.


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Shad Fish



The ultimate dish for me was the Braised Whole Abalone in Oyster Sauce. WOW. Cooked to perfection, this marine snail tasted like scallops on steroids with the texture of beautifully cooked, soft but chewy calamari. It was truly a revelation for me. The best abalone I’ve ever eaten and I had a whole piece all to myself! At that very moment I felt like The Last Empress. (You may now rise, my eunuchs.)


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Braised Whole Abalone with Oyster Sauce



To fill up the last few empty centimeters of our bellies, we had a piping hot casserole of assorted mushrooms and wheat gluten, and of course, every Chinese feast must have rice of some sort. Ours came fried with dried scallops and egg white. So fluffy and tasty I inhaled my bowl in no time.


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Mushroom and Wheat Gluten Casserole



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Dried Scallop and Egg White Fried Rice



To those looking for a memorable dining experience in Hong Kong, I recommend Shanghai Min with no hesitation.



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Thank you, Ahia Emil! :)


Shanghai Min has 8 branches throughout Hong Kong, the one I visited is located at Shop 1201, 12th Floor, Times Square, 1 Matheson Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong. Tel: +852-28748-899. It can get quite full so advance reservations are recommended. You can find more information about other branches at Shanghai Min’s official website

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