I read Jim's report on his banquet of Hangzhou food in Flushing, Queens, tonight. Hangzhou is a 4 1/2-hour train ride from Shanghai. Hangzhou was my favorite place in China (not counting Hong Kong) during my 4 1/2-week trip in the summer of 1987, for many reasons, one of which was the food. Hangzhou food used really high-quality, fresh produce, and fresh fish and seafood (freshwater shrimp!) from Xi Hu (West Lake), the beautiful body of water to the south of the center of the city. I had no fancy banquets when I was there, but good food was to be had everywhere, including at the hotel I stayed at. One of the people I was travelling with was on a strict macrobiotic diet, and ordered Buddha's Delight for 3 straight evenings. The cook was creative, using different vegetables each day, so that the dish was wonderfully different in taste and texture each time.
Another great spot for good food was the city of Wuxi, to the northwest of Hangzhou (west of Suzhou, a city known for its sweets). I didn't stay long in Wuxi, but I did have a chance to sample a wonderful specialty, spare ribs with star anise. The central coastal region of China is an area of great food. Wuxi was also a place where I had great pork dumplings right across from the bus station - so good that I made it a point to return to that restaurant for more.