Spicy fare from around the world

By Aubrey Buckingham (Shanghai Daily)
Updated: 2007-05-21 09:26

Spicy fare from around the worldWhen it comes to food, variety is the spice of life. Although local gourmands may not enjoy an abundance of choice among local restaurants, there is no denying that the situation has improved by leaps and bounds in recent times.

Hotels have played a large part in bringing in cuisine not readily available in Shanghai to the city. Local properties have been bringing in foreign chefs from both home and abroad on a regular basis. To the homesick migrant, comfort food from their place of origin can be manna from heaven; at the same time, foodies looking for something different can try the often-exotic flavors from afar.

The Pudong Shangri-La is currently going domestic with "The Essence of Wuhan" promotion being held at Chinese dinerGui Hua Lou. The Hubei Province capital is one of the five largest cities in China's mainland with about nine million residents. The wealth of food available reflects the city's geographical location between Shanghai and Chongqing, thereby the cuisine features a tasty mix of eastern Sichuan spice and the oilier, braised dishes that are standard fare here.

The central Chinese metropolis is known for its Olympic champion diver Fu Mingxia as well as its abundance of fresh water. As a result freshwater fish makes up about 80 percent of local menus, served often lightly-spiced but packed with flavor.

Diners at Gui Hua Lou would be silly to miss the signature-braised Wuchang fish in special spicy Jinsha sauce (128 yuan/US$16.70). Its visiting team of four experienced chefs highly recommend the cold marinated duck with five spices (98 yuan), pan fried red tail Yangtze River herring (72 yuan) and double boiled chicken soup (98 yuan) with fish balls to wash down the meat.

The promotion is available during lunch and dinner and runs through May 27.

Looking beyond these shores to the region, the upstairsYi Cafeis shifting the spotlight to Malaysian fare with guest chef Edmund Hor. Not exactly a specific cuisine but rather a reflection of the Southeast Asian nation's multi-ethnic population, the spicy food will likely have diners reaching for a glass of water.

Chef Hor plies his trade at Traders Hotel, Kuala Lumpur and has brought ingredients from the Malaysian capital. "Flavors of Truly Malaysia" runs through next Saturday and can be enjoyed with the rest of the buffet for 208 yuan for lunch and 288 yuan for dinner.

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