What a great city this is! We've been walking around all day in awe of the beauty of the place and the happy mood on the streets -- "cheerful chaos" is the term which came to mind to describe it -- and in ecstasy at the yummy food all around us!
Our first meal was dinner last night, at TianRun Pulses Flower Restaurant. It is a Sichuan restaurant at 100 Dengshikou street, across from the Holiday Inn. We started with shredded chicken in fish sauce which just blew my mind -- it was a similar experience to first eating the shredded chicken at that place in Forest Hills, I'm blanking on the name of it now but someone else will be able to fill that in for me -- the two dishes do not taste at all alike but are similar in the intensity, complexity and depth of their flavors. My other favorite dishes were Ma Po tofu, sauteed snow peas which really set the hotter dishes off nicely with their simplicity, and outstanding dumplings, meltingly tender. A note: all of the spicy dishes have to be eaten immediately as they are served, if they are allowed to cool they lose flavor very quickly. Other dishes were very good egg drop soup with tomatoes, garlicky eggplant and peppers, Kung Pau chicken. Also this place has a very good beer selection.
Today I had dumplings for lunch in a restaurant on Wang Fu Jing street north of the hotel, I could not tell you the name but there are a _lot_ of dumpling restaurants along this stretch. They were very tasty but a little dried out from standing in the steamer trays, I think you have to go to a fancier restaurant to get really fresh dumplings, but the bill for a tray (about 15) of dumplings and a beer worked out to US $0.62. Also a great snack of fried disks on a skewer with black sesame seeds, I think they were slices of some kind of root vegetable?, from a sidewalk vendor.
On to the next adventure, tonight we're going to a barbecue restaurant with acrobats as entertainment!