As I read about Shanghai in my preparation to move here I read over and over about the Shanghai brunch experience.
As a person who loves good food, loves a good brunch (who doesn’t), and especially enjoys the treat of occasionally eating food I don’t have to cook, I was stoked to hit-up a Shanghai brunch or two.
When I started working in the Humanities department at SSIS, I met a kindred spirit, Laura, and guess what? She has a brunch club…That is right, folks, a brunch CLUB!! Genius!
So, I recently attended my first Shanghai brunch. Let me tell you all about it…
It was a very wet, rainy day in Shanghai so it was the perfect day to spend hours on end in the Pudong Shangri-la Hotel eating a ridiculous amount of food. I had ordered a cab with a friend who was in the neighborhood and we were on our way. Moving across the city in a cab takes a long time, and even longer when it is rainy, so my friend, Erica, and I had a long time to anticipate the meal ahead. This hotel is right in the middle of the iconic buildings you see in the Shanghai skyline photos that are so beautiful. The taxi wound us through the massive sky scrapers, whose tops were shrouded in the fog. We pulled up to the front of the hotel where the valet opened our doors and we headed in.
I had eaten a small breakfast in preparation for the mid-day meal I was about to experience. I wanted to be ready. We were almost 40 minutes late for our brunch date, and we were hungry. We had our game faces on, and we were ready to go.
The brunch area was massive, with live music, lots of seating and gorgeous food displays that began right at the entrance to the restaurant and continued along to our seat and even farther, on toward the back of the restaurant.
I grabbed a seat with 7 other ladies, put my things down, and started a little tour to see where I would begin. The food was set out by regions of the world my friends…again, right up my alley! The geography teacher in me, was so satisfied by this display. India, China, Malaysia, Thailand, America, Lebanon…the list goes on, and to top it all off, the Japanese restuarant on the same floor of this hotel was open for the brunch for the soul purpose of making sushi…that’s right…sushi.
In another area of the restaurant the presentation was different. There was a cheese area, a charcuterie, a gorgeous salad bar, a huge display dedicated to fruit, and another entire island of space dedicated to seafood. It was eye opening and jaw dropping.
I needed a strategy.
I filled my plate (starting in Lebanon and India btw) and sat down next to a gorgeous woman named Naomi, originally from the Dominican Republic. She had a strategy. She has lived in China for 10 years, is about half my size, and this was clearly not her first rodeo.
I learned that her dad was a nutritionist in the DR. He suggested you always drink tea or warm water while eating a big meal, take a very, very small taste of everything and then, when you find something you like, head back for seconds on that. Don’t touch a potato, or you’re done. Now Naomi only had one glass of wine, which probably contributed to a nearly perfect strategy, but in a brunch serving free flowing Veuve Clicquot Champagne, Mai Tais and Bloody Marys, I had to ignore that part of the plan.
Most everything I tried was delicious. I didn’t get to all the regions of the world, and perhaps I will go back to try what I missed, but some wonderful things I tried included: most all of the food from India, the sushi, and the desserts.
Oh, did I not mention the desserts? There was a chocolate fondue bar, and ice cream bar, and tables spread with different baked deliciousness.
On the way out, you could fill these beautiful, little boxes with assorted gummi candies to go (gift for the kids for the win!)
It was wonderful to meet some new women from other schools around Shanghai and get out on my own for a bit.
On the way home I learned how massive the district in which I live is, by getting seriously lost on foot. Lost in Minhang…I decided it sounded like a movie, only this movie is really, really boring. Some American girl, walking the suburban streets of Minhang, thinking she is a lot closer to home than she is, and finally figuring out on her Chinese phone that she can’t walk the 19 km on a Sunday evening and hailing a cab. I was home over an hour later than I should have been.
But, the brunch was good.