Sunday, August 31, 2014

Shanghai Food Review: Aimé Pâtisserie

I noticed the pastry shop: Aimé Pâtisserie for weeks this past spring, but I never mustered the courage to step inside. I finally saw a review for the place in one of the expat magazines that raved about how good it was so I decided to step inside and give it a go…

First Thoughts:
How Creative!
Upon arriving, we were greeted by a very friendly (and attractive) French gentlemen and I quickly conversed with him in (rusty) French about the macaroon flavors. There were 10 different flavors and I decided to try three of them.  I choose a salted caramel, a salted caramel and chocolate combo, and lastly, a passion fruit flavor. My friend ordered similar flavors plus a raspberry chocolate and a pistachio flavor.  Because of the review about the amazing éclairs, I ordered a chocolate pastry filled with chocolate cream, hazelnuts and a chocolate praline bottom. Since we decided to stay and eat, the owner offered us a free sample of his litchi rose cheesecake.  While I waited for my desert to be served, I noticed the bumping tunes in the background. I can definitely tell it was a French place since there was so much Mika (They love him in France) and of course my favorite French jam “Alors On Danse!”

So many little time!!

These are to die for!
As much as I liked the décor, I didn’t like the seating arrangement. It was one long, high top table and that was it. I got the feeling that this is the place to order and go; not a place to leisurely sit for hours. To be honest, I don’t blame the owner since this is a big problem with many establishments in Shanghai; especially during the hot and muggy summer months when the locals want to save a few kuai on the electric bill and partake in the free air con at public establishments.

First Bite:
The cheesecake was amazing! It was made with real cream, a nice hint of rose, and a generous fruit taste thanks to the litchi. However, the crust and I mean THE CRUST, was the best cheesecake crust I ever had!   It was very crunchy, sweet and a bit salty and the combination made we want to jump and shout “BIEN!”
My cheesecake sample and chocolate pastry!

After I polished off my cheesecake sample, I moved on to the chocolate pastry and that was equally as good. It was very sweet and chocolaty with hazelnuts layered on top of the chocolate praline layer. I shared some with my friend who also gave it a solid thumbs up. Since I was pretty much in a sugar coma, I only had one macaroon-the salted caramel one and it was really good. It was a good quality macaroon that wasn’t too hard and it didn’t crumble too much all over me. It had a nice caramel flavor and a wonderful balance of sweet with a touch of salt.

From Clockwise: Passion Fruit, Salted Caramel, Chocolate/Salted Caramel Macaroons

Final Word:
I would give Aimé Pâtisserie 5 out of 5 without hesitation. Even with the undesirable seating arrangement, I received good service, ate well, and the music made me want to get up and dance! I will say that you get what you pay for and this place is a bit pricey. Macaroons cost 18 RMB ($3.00 USD) each and unlike some establishments, there’s no discount for buying multiples. Also, I was surprised that there were no macaroon flavors suited for the local crowd (such as green tea or durian). Perhaps the owner wants to keep it strictly to a western palette; or, those flavors are/will be in the works.

The pastries range in price from 35 RMB ($5.75 USD) to 52 RMB ($8.70 USD). But as I mentioned above, you are paying for quality and you can honestly taste real ingredients and not some out of the box imitation.

But fear not my friends… I have some good news!  The pastry shop offers a few ways to lower your bill. Firstly, you can sign up for a black card and save 5% on each purchase.  Secondly, if you sign up for the black card and on a return visit bring a friend who signs up for the black card, you can receive one free macaroon.  Lastly, you can do the social media thing and follow them on WeChat.  If you scan a QR code, you can come back with a code and have one free macaroon.
Official black card holder!

Well Aimé, I will definitely be back for some macaroons and a whole slice of that delicious cheese cake! A bientôt!!! :)

Address: 1008 Huaihai Zhong Lu,
                near Shanxi Nan Lu

Friday, August 29, 2014

Shanghai Food Review: KABB @ IAPM Mall

Dinning options for a rainy day...

Hello All and welcome back! Ever since I arrived back to Shanghai, it’s been grey skies and rain every, single day! The combination of dreary weather and the end of summer vacation lead me to an (indoor) food adventure during my last days of freedom. I enlisted the help of a foodie friend to tackle lunch and a follow up dessert at two newer places in Shanghai: KABB and Aime Patisserie.

My friend and I decided to meet at the new shopping mall IAPM. It’s a huge mall filled with floors of luxury shopping, restaurants and entertainment venues. After scanning the restaurant options, I noticed KABB and suggested it to my friend who agreed. I heard good things about their location in Xintiandi so I decided to see what the IAPM location had in store…

Inside IAPM Mall: A tribute to the lovable Snoopy

Snoopy life sized!!!!

Seating and Drinks:
We were quickly seated by a friendly host who spoke great English and accommodated our seating request (booth seats in a more quite area of the restaurant). Our waiter arrived quickly and told us about the menu full of summer specials as well as, the drink deal they had with lunch service: With any meal purchased during lunch time; receive a free soft drink, coffee or tea. I’m not much of a soda consumer and I don’t like to have hot drinks with a meal (unless it’s breakfast); so, I ended up getting a grapefruit spritzer since it sounded fun and fizzy. It turned to be meh tasting...lots of fizz but little grapefruit taste. My friend went with good ol’ dependable Coca-Cola. 

Inside look

KABB's Special Summer Menu

Fizzy but where is the grapefruit?

Menu and Placing an Order:
The menu was pretty straightforward-western food-sandwiches, salads, steaks, burgers and pastas. The prices were a bit expensive. 70-140RMB ($11.25 USD - $23.50 USD) for sandwiches and burgers and steaks started at 240RMB ($39 USD) but this was a given due to the location and of course it being western food.  I ordered the Mexican chicken sandwich which consisted of a grilled, spicy chicken breast, lettuce, cheese, bacon and guacamole (there was a spicy mayo but I removed it since I hate mayo) with tortilla chips and salsa. My friend ordered a lamb burger with French fries.

Taste Results:
The food came out in reasonable time-not too fast and also not to slow. Once we got our meals we dug right in. I was disappointed to see that my meal came with fries (they must have been out of chips and salsa) but, instead of telling our server I remained silent and ate them. The sandwich was very nice with a good hint of spice. I really liked the guacamole, it tasted fresh, seasoned and it was a nice color green (which means it must have been prepared that day). My friend raved about her burger and loved the spicy jelly that came on top. Since we were having desserts at a different location, we skipped the dessert promotion (an additional 20RMB-$3.40 USD) for the desert of the day.
Mexican Chicken Sandwich: Not bad...Just Right!

Lamb Burger: It got an enthusiastic nod from my friend!

Final Word:
Overall, I would rate my experience at KABB as 3 out of 5. The reason I scored it so low was due to the lunch not having the chips and salsa and also the bathroom situation.  There is no bathroom in the restaurant so if you wish to relive yourself, you must leave the restaurant and go back inside the mall. While it’s not a trek to get to the bathroom, it’s not right next door either. I would like to return and order something off the special summer menu including one of the alcohol drinks (the description sounded really good).  I also hate to judge a restaurant off of only one dish/one visit.

 Oh… And I will make sure to go to the bathroom before sitting down for my meal. :)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

I Stopped Blogging...Please Forgive Me!

Photo Credit:

Hello and welcome back! Just as the title states above, I stopped blogging (for close to two years!) and I’m truly sorry. It was never my intention to stop writing (especially with craziness I experience in China). Since I'm back in the U.S.A on vacation, a number of people asked me "why did I stop blogging?" as well as, "when would I blog again?"I decided that I needed to continue blogging and as I will explain below, some things happened to me which stopped me from blogging. 

1.      Time: I stopped devoting time to the blog and I started really living life abroad. I started to go out a bit more and socialize (through people, groups and random activities). Then, I became really involved with work (during my first year). I also started going to the gym (I will blog about this in more detail) and I even dipped my toes into the dating world here in Shanghai (I will also explain more about this in an upcoming blog post).

2.    I changed employment: I’m not going to explain everything here (since I have a blog post or two in the works about this topic), but I changed employment after my first year in China. To be honest, I wasn’t really thrilled about my job and I didn’t want to stay there and endure another year. I experienced some good, bad and terrible during my year at said company, but as the saying goes, the first year really and truly is a learning year and I learned a lot about work, office culture and expectations in China. I’m happy to report that I found better, more satisfying employment elsewhere in Shanghai and at this time, I will be staying there for another year.

3.     I got lazy: I can’t lie…I did get lazy and I let this blog go to the wayside. Even though I was busy with activities, job changes and adjustments, I could have found a spare hour or two a week to blog and recount my life in Shanghai.  I had a couple of blogs I wanted to write and they stayed in my draft folder. Then a week would pass and then a week turned into a month, a few months and then a year.

Along with the laziness came a fear of writing. For whatever reason, I was scared to write about my experiences and so I stayed away from the blog. I can’t explain the reason why but I hope to never experience that fear of writing again.

 I realized the importance of writing a blog and keeping in touch with friends and family while abroad. I write this blog not just for myself, but for other people. I write this blog for people who want to know how I’m doing and what I’m experiencing. I write this blog for those who love to travel, especially if they’re planning a trip to China or anyplace else I intend to blog about in the future. Finally, I write this blog to encourage those who have a dream, who want to get out and explore the world but may have doubts about where to go and how to get started. Just realize that travel is in your future and don’t give up your dreams!

This Lamborghini will be mine one day! Shanghai Luxury Expo 2013

Lastly, I will be doing 20 different blog posts to finish the year 2014. I will find an hour or two a week to blog mostly about travel, but also about other things that affect my life. I've already written the topics, now it’s time to end the excuses and just write! 

Thanks again for reading and stay tuned for the next blog post!