I remember fawning over Japanese food my first month after arriving in the country. I’m eating real, fresh, authentic sushi, I would brag to my friends in America; my sashimi kicks Utah’s seafood-less ass, I would boast as I laughed with my fresh fish. I just couldn’t get enough of Japanese ramen, yakiniku, all the “don”s (rice bowls) and the okonomiyaki I oh-so-much-love. Japan’s culinary dishes seemed so full of flavor, life; it’s a plate of refreshing sauces and vegetables that seemed to invigorate one’s palette with a refreshing wipe of “wa” (harmony).
Then, after a few months or so, it all started to taste the same.
Don’t get me wrong. I love Japanese food. But let’s be honest here: Japanese food really just doesn’t have variety in terms of different flavors or ingredients. There’s fish, there’s miso, there’s seaweed–and that’s about it. The way they prepare and pick their ingredients really is refined to those with specific taste buds, but for me, I must say… Japanese food, while good, did seem to wear on me.
The wonderful thing about China is the plethora of flavors that lie at your fingertips. Each area of China has a different taste; and when I say different taste, I mean it’s like going to another country. From the spicy peppers of Sichuan to the hearty, sweet sauces of Shanghai dishes–China’s culinary flavor is immense.
We all know I like the spice, so bring it on, China, bring it on.
Sichuan peppercorns with roast pork （花椒）, with spicy fish soup （麻辣鱼）
I forget the name of this vegetable, but it’s wonderful. Cauliflower stir fried with pork and peppers 花菜
Of course, no meal is worth eating without my best friend in Shanghai, Zenan.
Every Friday my friends and I have a tradition to go out, eat, and try the supposedly “best” restaurants here in Shanghai. All of my friends are Chinese and really despise eating western food, so they lead me into restaurants with some of the best goddamn food I’ve ever put in my mouth.
The above meal is Sichuan food 川菜, which is a big oily bowl of peppers stuffed with meat and vegetables. While this food will probably cake your stomach lining in oil and give you diarrhea for days… my god, it’s worth it.
The pictures say it all.