A short trip far away

Restaurants in Shanghai abound, new places opening constantly. This should lead to a lot of diversity, imagination and surprises… but it does not. Western restaurants are all of the same for the most part. There lot’s of American joints serving burgers from McDonald’s to (soon to open) upper-class burger restaurant (please explain me what that is exactly). We also have about 20 French restaurants, from the cheap bistro to the creme de la creme Relais-et-Chateau. Real Italian restaurants are in number in Shanghai, but the one I (sarcastically) prefer are the Japanese copies of Italian restaurants. I think I have to explain this more in depth as I also needed some time to understand the concept of it. They are chains of Italian restaurants, that were started in and expended all over Japan. They often already have outlets in Taiwan, Hong Kong or Korea… and now they come to China. Having very little link with real Italy… the food can be sometimes surprising. The pictures on the menu are always great, it’s when your pizza, fettuccini or espresso arrives that the surprise pops out. The result generally ranges from “more or less right” to “I think an Italian would have a nervous breakdown when eating it”.
Among all this repetition of variable quality western food, one also find some peculiar places, trying to serve a cuisine away from the norm. I recently had lunch in a Suriname restaurant. I am not sure all internationally minded readers know where Suriname is… let alone most Chinese people. I admire the lady who opened this restaurant, as she probably spends many hours explaining to people where her country is, and what you can expect to eat there. Anyway, I had my roti like in Holland (where Surinamese restaurants are available in mass) and the feeling that I had taken a trip away… 10 minutes from my office. I’m looking forward to far and unknown places… with more of those coming here, Shanghai is really becoming a world city.

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