Shang Palace

This was a fabulous find for classic Cantonese cuisine. We spent several days in the countryside 5 to 6 hours west of Shanghai visiting the so-called river towns that Marco Polo once referred to as the “Venice of the Orient.” It was well worth it with lots of parks, canals, interesting museums, and plenty of friendly, welcoming Chinese. Our favorite towns included Suzhou, which is the silk center of China and has a marvelous Silk Museum, and the smaller villages of Zhouzhuang and Tongli, all of which are within driving distance of Shanghai. However, I recommend you hire a driver and do not try to navigate the roads by yourself unless you speak Mandarin.

As the menu attests, we had some exquisite dishes at Shang Palace, including the finest hairy crab from Lake Yangcheng, which comes with its own certificate of authenticity. Some of my favorite dishes included the pan-fried beef short ribs with leek, the chicken soup with shredded bean curd and the deep-fried mandarin fish topped with sweet and sour sauce. We decided to drink beer since it was mid-day, and thus had some of the local Chinese beers which were quite good. They were slightly lighter than a full-throttle American boutique beer, but well-made. I would highly recommend this restaurant to anyone making an excursion outside of Shanghai.

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