Written by (作者): Vincent R. Vinci 魏文深
Photos by (图片来源): Bon App
One wouldn’t normally pick a rainy day to go to an outdoor festival, much less a food festival. The thought of soggy meals and plates falling apart with each drop of water seems nightmarish. But when the food festival takes place in Shanghai, the rain doesn’t stop anyone. After all, this city isn’t the foodie capital of China for nothing. Add 30 booths featuring food from the city’s best restaurants, a Chicago BBQ area put up by Goose Island and models walking around in bikinis armed with alcohol-filled water guns… you’d be mad not to go.
And so we went to Bon App’s Foodies Unite 2016 at the Jing An Kerry Centre, the second annual installment of their summer food fest. This year’s theme, “Around the World in 80 Bites”, didn’t disappoint as there were booths filled with all sorts of gastronomic wonders, all on offer from Shanghai’s top international and Chinese restaurants.
We entered into a wonderland of all sorts of food, drinks, snacks and treats from all around the world. Passing the booths, we found flags representing England, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Mexico and more.
It was hard to decide where to start, wandering about in wide-eyed wonderment, but we eventually decided on Happy Buddha, a Vietnamese joint specializing in vegan cuisine. Their Tofu Banh Mi sandwich was awesome, with the chewy yet not-too-soft texture of the bean curd mixing well with the gentle spiciness of the pickled carrots, onions, and jalapenos. We needed something to wash it down with so we made a stop at the one of the bigger sections of the fair, the Goose Island booth. Here we picked up a bottle of their ever-awesome Goose IPA and champagne-like beer, Sofie.
After a small taste of vegan Vietnamese cuisine and craft beer, our next destination was Bumbu, a spot for awesome Indonesian munchies. The colorful spices and sauces were intriguing and drew us to the booth. First up was a bright orange chili sauce that started off mellow but became hotter with time; its intensity was marked by numbing hints of peppercorn. To cool things off, we tried their sweet stuff, a nice mix of spices and flavor. We enjoyed it so much that we got an entire jar of it to bring home.
We were just getting started! We stopped by Pie Society to try their tasty meat pies, then set off again, trying more food and drink. By now, the rain was dying down and the crowd was slowly growing, filled with revelry and good nature. Of all the food we tried, the best came from the Bull & Claw, a Shanghai institution known for its delectable brunches, and El Luchador, one of the city’s best Mexican joints.
From Bull & Claw we got some fresh oysters and the amazing Cheese & Veal Toastie, a grilled cheese sandwich covered in peppers, onions, and veal straight off the grill and a side of fries. Each bite was full of flavor, the juiciness of the meat working well with the cheese and the bread (which wasn’t sweet!). Washed down with Jing A’s Flying Fist IPA, this was by far our favorite meal. Not to be outdone was El Luchador, who cooked up some wonderfully complex Tacos Al Pastor. The jalapeno sauce mixed well with the tang of the cilantro and mangos, all balanced out by the tender pork and bringing an “Mmmm” with every bite.
Throughout the event were shows, drawings – even some Feiyue giveaways – and contests, the craziest of which was the hot dog eating contest. Contestants battled it out to see who could chow down on the most dogs (big monster dogs from Dog House) for the grand prize: free gourmet hot dogs from Dog House for a year. Even though the train makes it a little difficult to get to Shanghai all that regularly, Ningbo was represented well during the event, and even though we didn’t take home the prize, it was still an entertaining competition.
Bellies full, we left Foodies Unite 2016 to catch the G-train back to Ningbo happy and content. When it comes to food events, Shanghai doesn’t disappoint, and even with all the rain soaking us to the bone, it was worth the visit to our northern neighbor to chow down and drink up some of the best food the city has to offer.
我们满眼好奇地四下张望着，不知从哪开始，但是最终决定先去Happy Buddha，这是一家由几位越南人合伙开的素食餐厅。他们家的越南豆腐三明治真的是美味绝伦，豆腐柔滑而不过嫩，配上酱萝卜、洋葱和墨西哥辣椒的辛香，味道恰到好处。美食当然少不了酒水，所以我们在鹅岛精酿啤酒的大摊位前停了下来，品尝了它们家醇厚爽口的Goose IPA和香槟味的Sofie。
我们在Pie Society买了一些很赞的肉饼，就着Bumbu的椰子汁吃完。之后，我们又再次启程，边走边尝了另一些美食和饮品。雨渐渐小了，人也随之变多，大家在友好的氛围中开启了一场狂欢盛宴。在我们随后品尝的所有食物中，味道最好的两个摊位是鳌足汇和E l Luchador。鳌足汇是上海美食界的新起之秀，因其美味的早午餐而出名，El Luchador则是上海最顶级的墨西哥餐厅之一。
除了美食，整场活动中还有表演、彩绘和竞赛，最疯狂的就是吃热狗大赛。选手们狼吞虎咽地吃着热狗（美国Dog House的超大号热狗），奋力争夺大奖：Dog House终年免单。尽管要经常坐火车去上海并不容易，但是“宁波队”在此次活动中仍表现出色，虽然我们最终没有赢得大奖，这场活动仍让人难忘。
Vincent R. Vinci is the Senior English Editor of Ningbo Focus. Having lived, studied, and worked in China on and off for the past 3 years or so, he has dedicated his time in the country to exploring its history, culture, food, and drink and sharing it with whoever wants to read about it.