fortune cookie, the restaurant

Simply to-die-for amazing. One bite in and I was back in New York in my pajamas, foot propping open the door while awkward signing the credit card slip on my wall, itching to grab the plastic bag filled with takeout cartons. Ah, good times. Oh, and they give those fried crispy noodly things with the super sweet dipping sauce as an appetizer! Yay!

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American Chinese food. In China. GENIUS. The restaurant is located in a heavily foreign food-laden area, but its location on the fourth floor made it a bit difficult to find. The interior was nicely done and you can definitely tell a lot of thought went into designing the place, even down to the menu. I went with a local friend, and whereas she usually does the ordering at Chinese restaurants, I totally took the reigns here … and gleefully over-ordered.

The egg roll, moo shu pork, General Tsao’s beef, and tofu chop suey were all fantastic. Just the way they should be in proper American Chinese style: the egg roll had a thick chewy/crispy skin, the moo shu pork was served with the thin pancakes and hoisin sauce (to wrap ’em like burritos), the General Tsao’s was the perfect sweetness with just the right amount of batter, and the chop suey had a good thick sauce as well.

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In short: Fortune Cookie is fantastic. It’s been getting quite a lot of press recently, and for very good reason. With how many expats there are in Shanghai, an American Chinese restaurant makes complete sense. Back in the States I’d joke that American Chinese food is ‘fake Chinese’, but they’re truly two entirely separate cuisines and should be evaluated on their own merits rather than be compared to what’s ‘traditional’ or ‘authentic’. Authenticity is overrated anyhow. In today’s age of merging cultures, dismissing innovation in an attempt to protect the sanctity of past culture is simply naïve.

Perhaps it would be better accepted if we called American Chinese food ‘fusion’ instead … perhaps then the Chinese people will stop yakking on about how we’re butchering their dishes and using way too much sugar. But in a way, saying American implies fusion, because that is the American way.

Fortune Cookie
fortunecookieshanghai.com
4/F, 83 Changshu Road, Xuhui District, Shanghai
Sunday to Thursday, 11:30 AM – 10 PM
Friday to Saturday, 11:30 AM – 11 PM

so-called tex-mex

I am by no means an authority on Tex-Mex. I can’t really cook, but I can make pretty good enchiladas, quesadillas, and tacos ’cause they’re easy. (Although according to my friends, mashed potatoes do not belong anywhere near a tortilla. I disagree.) Being from Texas, I take my Mexican, er … Tex-Mex, seriously. Yeah yeah, I know there’s a GIGANTIC difference between real Mexican and Tex-Mex, but in Texas we just call it Mexican food and usually assume everyone knows that we’re actually referring to Tex-Mex. It’s like how the French don’t say French fries.

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Anyhow, for dinner I went to Cantina Agave on Fumin Road here in Shanghai. It’s a pretty famous Mexican restaurant in Shanghai … famous because it’s one of the few Mexican restaurants here and it’s been around for a few years. My opinion: It’s decent. Eh. Didn’t really hit the spot. I found the flavors quite bland. Maybe it’s because the burrito I had was kind of dry, the tortilla was definitely not fresh, the nachos didn’t have the right crunch, and the guac/salsa/beans/rice were simply lacking in lemon/spice/whatever. Sigh. Overall, it was okay, just not that yummy. Maybe I have too high of standards? I feel like I could have done better myself. My friend liked the food, but she’s Chinese and it was her first time trying Mexican food. So really, her opinion doesn’t count. Not to say I don’t value her opinion, but it’s like asking a person from Maine the best way to prepare barbecue … he/she really doesn’t get a say.

mmmm … wagas

Ugh. I’m exhausted. Sooooo much going on. And I’m behind on so many things! Uh oh. I have a whole host of partially-prepared posts, but I just don’t have the time to finish them up. So here’s a picture of food. Yum. Yay.

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This is a picture of a chicken panini … or rather a “chicken, bacon bits and sun-dried tomato salad with avocado leaves” on “Turkish panini” from Wagas. Mmmm … Wagas. For those not in the know, Wagas is a chain of restaurants in China that’s pretty popular with the Western crowd. Why? Because it’s Western food (sandwiches, salads, wraps), the food is good/clean/consistent, and their restaurant spaces are more appealing to a foreign crowd – casual/comfy decor, clean, higher-end locations, and free wi-fi. Prices are at a manageable expat level (about 50 RMB for a sandwich), so I only eat it every now and then ’cause I ain’t on an expat salary. But they do delivery! When I was waiting for the internet at my apartment to get set up, I spent a fair amount of time at Wagas for the wi-fi. Good food and good atmosphere but not so good on the wallet. I recommend their spinach wraps – the chicken curry is absolutely delish.

Now off to finish some of my overdue work (for Company A)! Or maybe some of that deadline-approaching freelance work (for Company B)! Or … maybe I should sleep? I have to go into the office early tomorrow morning (for Company C). Argh. Decisions, decisions. Ah, it’s cold. And now I’m hungry.