The gastronomic trend in Shanghai has been towards more spicy cuisine. Powerful, assertive flavours, possibly due to a function of people eating out more. Subtle, delicate foods just don't create an impression on the palate anymore. A shame, but at least authentic spicy, regional cuisine is better than any over-seasoned, MSG-laden stodge. We found a restaurant the last time I was in Shanghai, in 2008. Called WangXiangYuan, Southern Memory, this was a restaurant specializing in authentic Hunan cuisine, staffed completely with Hunan natives. I fell in love with this place - the food was perfectly cooked, authentic, spicy with perfect flavour. Fresh produce, authentic cooking, great service - all the ingredients to a successful restaurant. One of my missions was to find this place again. I knew how competitive the restaurant business in Shanghai is, and I knew that if it was still open, it confirmed many things; that spicy cuisine was a growing trend, and that the restaurant had maintained its quality.
This was one of our starting cold dishes. An almost coral like sea vegetable, clear, very crunch, fantastic structure. Dressed in a chili oil sauce, this was one of my favourite dishes this entire trip. Right, and the left hand belongs to my lovely cousin, who I managed to trick into to spending the day with me.