T+L Reports: Shanghai Surprise
When you're chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, the world revolves around your next meal. His new Richard Meier-designed Chinese restaurant, 66 (241 Church St.; 212/925-0202; dinner for two $85), just opened in New York. T+L asked the globe-trotting chef to share his travel secrets and his favorite meals in Shanghai (where he's building a restaurant).
ON FOOD My vacations always involve food. It gives you insight into the people and their traditions.
ON LONG FLIGHTS I travel with the Asian version of Cup of Noodles soup, and Ambien—my best friend. A single pill lasts me 12 hours. I wake up, have some soup, and I'm there.
ON EXPLORING A CITY Skip the tour and go to the old part of town. Guides always show you the pretty things, the monuments. I'd rather go to stores, eat, and try the unexpected.
ON STREET FOOD The best food in Asia is made in the streets. I recently found a guy in Shanghai who balanced a ball of dough on his shoulder and cut it into paper-thin slices that would drop and cook in a broth. I attempted to persuade him to come back to New York with me.
ON SOUVENIRS I love flower-infused teas like jasmine, which you can buy on every corner in Asia.
ON SHANGHAI RESTAURANTS I prefer local places that have no tablecloths. At Bao Luo (271 Fu Min Rd.; 86-21/5403-7239), try the Sichuan sweet-and-sour fish with pine nuts. The ham sandwich at Jade Garden (388 Zhao Jia Bang Rd.; 86-21/6415-9918) reminded me of Alsace. After a cold morning at the central market, I crave the dim sum and tea from Lu Bo Lang (115 Yu Yuan Rd.; 86-21/6328-0602).
Lu Bo Lang
A three-floored building of the Ming Dynasty style is home to this restaurant, famously said to have hosted Bill Clinton and Fidel Castro. Rumor says that Chelsea Clinton had three helpings of a green bean and vegetable dish, while her presidential dad loved the sansi meimao pu stuffed pastry. Shanghainese cuisine is the specialty here, especially dim sum and dishes with crab or shark fin. Other seafood dishes may include prawns, eel, and the Yangcheng Hu crab, although the latter comes and goes with the season.
Jade Garden, Zhao Jia Bang Road
One of multiple Jade Garden locations in Shanghai, this restaurant near the Luwan district serves Shanghainese dishes and specialties, such as drunken chicken and kao fu. Tender meats like eel and tea-smoked duck collaborate with rich sauces to deliver a diverse, multi-course meal. Other menu options include the fried Sheng jian bao dumplings; bai ye, pressed tofu skin; whole sea cucumber; fish head soup; and the restaurant's signature dish, mi zhi huo fang, candied taro, lotus seeds and ham. An English menu is available.