One of the perks of living in Shanghai is having access to China’s diverse food culture. For many expats, Chinese cuisine has expanded from “General Tso’s Chicken” and “Chop Suey” from a take-out menu to an elaborate feast of shared dishes in which flavors and textures vary between the regions.
Wherever you travel, North or South, locally-sourced ingredients can give you a rough idea about the province’s climate, terrain and ethnic groups. Some bites will be familiar to the palate, others might make things uneasy for the tongue. It’s all part of the experience – getting to know the gastronomic wealth of China.
One of the goals here at Sherpa’s for 2018 is to introduce more Chinese restaurants to our delivery menu. Don’t get us wrong – we love chowing down burgers and milkshakes, but we’re curious about the complexity that China’s fan and cai presents. What else is out there that we haven’t tried yet?
First one on the list: Qian Restaurant 黔香阁. Operating 6 locations in Hongqiao and Pudong (see, we’re not all about the FFC), Qian serves up authentic Guizhou fare that is known to pack a sour-and-spicy punch. While Guizhou cuisine is said to be even more fiery than its neighboring Sichuan staples, the Shanghai-born chefs at Qian have toned down the heat a little. If you can handle eating hot pot at HaiDiLao, you’ll be just fine.
Facts about Guizhou:
· Demographically one of China’s most diverse provinces
· Relatively poor and economically undeveloped
· Subtropical humid climate – pleasant all year round
· Spectacular natural features
· Home of the iconic Maotai baijiu
· Underrated as a travel destination
Curious as ever, we did a test run to see what to expect from Qian and its Guizhou delicacies. Frankly speaking – your editor went in with zero expectations and is now planning a trip to Guiyang, the capital city, sometime this year
PS: You might want to have a can of Coke at hand to tackle the spice.
Try swapping rice for Steamed Whole Grains (¥9) that taste a little sweet and pillowy. This small dish pairs well with the saltiness of Silver Anchovies (¥32) that sit on top of wild vegetables and sesame oil. Are you a fan of tofu? Even if the anwser is no, give Tofu Sticks (¥29) a go. Deep-fried and stewed with fennel, herbs, cinnamon and chili, these flavoursome rolls will change your opinion on soy forever. If you’re really adventurous with food and like to walk on the wild side – Mixed Preserved Meat Platter (¥38) is your match! We’re not entirely sure what kind of roots/shoots foraged from the deep forests of Guizhou we bit into, but oh was it ever bitter. For the brave and bold foodies only!
Tofu & Peanuts (¥36)
Fried Rice (¥48)
Fried with pork, egg, celery, sour long beans, heartleaf root, kidney beans, peanuts and chili, this rice dish is almost like a luxury version of your go-to chao fan. It makes for a great leftover option too.
All the highlighted plates are available on Sherpa’s. We’re keen to hear about your dining experience at Qian – please let us know your thoughts in the comments!