Din Tai Fung, Shanghai 01-2010

Although DTF is a Taiwanese company, it made some sense to me to try the famous restaurant in Shanghai. After all, it is the xiao long bao (or Shanghai dumplings) that DTF is most well known for.

This branch also happened to have a special black truffle dumpling of which I didn't feel had distinct truffle flavour and was no better (but more expensive) than the standard high quality dumplings.

I've since eaten at the branches that subsequently opened in Sydney (http://eatlikeushi.posthaven.com/din-tai-fung-sydney-06-2014) and Melbourne. XLB aren't my favourites but the chilli oil wontons certainly are.

Hua's Restaurant, Beijing 01-2010

This spicy restaurant was located in an alleyway just behind my hostel. It made for an easy escape in the sub-0 freezing Beijing winds.

The boiled crayfish with chilli (Y5 each) was one of the specialties and the searing hot chilli in the dish was emphasised by giving gloves to peel and eat them fish. It was very hot and the dizzy sweats prevailed, but so did I. The chilli oil burnt through the gloves and getting the heat and odour off my fingers took more than a day. It was an experience.

The braised shark's fin & abalone in soup (Y218) finished off this expensive meal.

The next night I didn't really know where to eat and so ended up back at the familiar place. I think the English in the menu helped my decision in that I know I'd get to eat what I want and the food was good. I ordered cheaper more standard dishes like cumin lamb and boiled chicken.

I left happily fed.

Guilin Mifen 01-2010

I'm resigned to the fact that I'll never rediscover where some of these places I ate in China are, simply because they have no English names and I would only know if I retraced my steps (not impossible given my Lonely Planet China that I relied upon).

After crossing a very rickety bridge in Guilin to look for a breakfast, and being confused by an elderly man not happy about my presence (and no such eatery to be found), I went back to the town and wandered through an indoor passageway that happened to include a noodle place. This was my first encounter with Guilin mifen and sadly it has been my last too.

The noodles were assembled by a lady adding bits and pieces including soy beans, pork and some kind of broth and the result was a very savoury tasty noodle dish with a tiny bit of soup served in a simple metal bowl.

I haven't found any recipes for mifen online (in English at least) since searching periodically in 2010, including Chinese cookbooks that I've come across. Although it seems there may be a few starting to surface online now...

Mifen, Guilin 01-2010

Using the Lonely Planet, there was one place in Guilin I really wanted to try. The book even warned me about the rickety bridge required to get there but my sense of adventure gave me the strength to cross (and take photos).

Once there it seemed apparent the restaurant was closed or finished or just not to be found. I struggled to find out where it was or what happened and in the end an elderly man shooed. Oh well, you can't win them all.

Back in town I walked past many young people eating breakfast noodles out of small takeaway containers. I mustered up the courage to ask a young male what it was, and he said "mifen" and directed me inside the corridor of a building. I came across a small noodle cafe. After watching them compile noodles in a silver bowel for other customers, I ordered one of the same. They compiled it for me and topped it with some kind of (likely MSG-happy) liquid for flavour.

The dish was delicious. Umami and textural with different ingredients.

I've since tried to find a recipe for it online with no luck. I've come across a restaurant in the USA that supposedly sells it and some kind of strange video of a guy stealing a menu from a mifen shop in China. I hope to one day eat this again.