Fragrant Pan / Savory Pot

One great thing about living in a huge megalopolis is the amount of food needed to sustain the population. In a one block radius around my apartment the number of restaurants is on an order of magnitude higher than my college town and my parents suburban town put together. Not only the numbers of restaurants but also the range of different foods is fantastic. This is fine with me.

I’ve been thoroughly converted from a Western diet to an Oriental one. Back in my college town I was starved for good quality food. That “food” on campus was not cutting it. When the chance to visit a restaurant came up, my circle of friends and I would always head out to an Asian restaurant. Drive 50 minutes to get to the good Indian place? Sure! Half an hour to the authentic Korean restaurant , we’re down! Skip the burger and fries at Denny’s , give us Kimchi and Aloo Gobi!

Let me show you what I had for breakfast this fine Saturday.

Jealous?

Let me introduce you to a new-found favorite.

香锅 aka Fragrant Pan , Savory Pot , something like that. Translation can be a pain. Xiang guo sounds right in Chinese just awkward putting it into English.

Nestled in the basement of the SML (Sun Moon Light) shopping center where a previous post talked about the Taiwanese vegan restaurant are a ton of different Fragrant Pan restaurants. The competition is fierce right now with nearly every restaurant offering a 15% or 20% discount. The one Savory Pot that didn’t engage in the cut-throat price slashing was dead.

These restaurants have fresh ingredients sitting out buffet-style and it’s up to the customer to choose what things get cooked up. There are 4 different “zones” . A Zone has cheap, green , leafy vegetables going for 1rmb/ 50 grams . B Zone features slightly more expensive non-meat things such as mushrooms , tofu products , sliced lotus root , and others. C Zone moves onto different meats at 4rmb / 50 grams , and the final D Zone has shrimp , octopus , pigeon eggs, and other treats for around 6 rmb/ 50g.

Point at your favorite things , choose a spice level , and grab a seat. You are minutes away from a feast. A very affordable feast at that. How much could this giant bowl of lotus root , tofu , spinach , cabbage , shrimp, 2 types of mushrooms , dried yellow bean strips , cucumber , rice cakes, potatoes ,and winter melon cost? Try 66 rmb (Just a tad of $10) oh yea plus 3 bowls of rice and 3 free soft drinks. Could 3 people finish it? Nope.

This is one of the reasons I love China.

Photo of the Day – Awesome Restaurant Menu

Here is a super creative menu found on HuaiHai Zhong Rd. near Changshu Rd. It was posted on the outside of the restaurant and I walked right by it thinking “Odd , I’ve never seen a transportation sign posted on a wall before”. See , it’s cleverly designed to resemble the bus stop signs. It even has real bus numbers and the metro line 1 (which is nearby) represented. The next stop (HuaiHai Zhong Rd and Shaanxi Nan Rd) is viable. It’s only open closer inspection of the route name and the stop names that (if you can read Chinese haha!) one realizes these are style of dish and the name of the dishes respectively. Good Stuff!

Shanghainese Point of Pride

Whenever I’m traveling in other places in Asia ( I wish I were doing that now but alas this is just a memory from before) it’s always Shanghai that is mentioned. Chinese restaurants are named after Shanghai , clubs looking to be cool and hip name themselves after Shanghai , even guesthouses adopt the Shanghai moniker. It  always seems to be that way. I’ve never seen a Beijing guesthouse , or Xi’An Terracotta Warrior restaurant , or even a Hong Kong club. Why Shanghai? I guess it’s Shanghai’s meteoric rise from a fishing village to the finance capital of mainland China. Beijing has thousands of years of history and was the seat of the Emperor for long periods in Chinese history but I guess a club is cool only if named after Shanghai. In the sense of a financial modern capital it makes more sense for people to use the Hong Kong name but Shanghai it is. Anyways, its another point of pride for Shanghai! Has anyone seen any places named after a Chinese non-Shanghai place ?

These pics are from the Philippines and Cambodia. Sagada and Phnom Penh respectively.