Southern Barbarian is one of those places that might surprise you a little.
Yes it is in Shanghai.
Yes it is a Chinese restaurant.
But don't expect anything particularly typical of most Chinese restaurants. The food served here is from the Yunnan province, which is at the south of China. It is in this province with the largest number of ethnic minorities and as such, when you have many minorities, you cannot have any generalisations of the food. But it's definitely what you would expect!
I'm so bummed I forgot to take a video of how to get here, if you're interested in visiting, do your research beforehand! I am so glad I googled as much as I did and printed out maps as you do get quite easily lost.
Your taxi will take you to an intersection, you enter a cheap, tacky, very quiet shopping complex thing, go out the back, follow the signs they have (which are quite small), go down 2 long corridors that wind and turn, before crossing a small courtyard, going up a flight of stairs and walking down another corridor!
But it is absolutely worth the trek for this little hidden gem, it reminds me a little of Melbourne laneway treasures, and despite it's name, is actually quite a funky little place.
I didn't take any pictures of the interior, as it was pretty much all black, it was quite simple but there was a bustling atmosphere, I was glad I had made a booking ahead of time!
G had brought along a lovely bottle of French wine. It was delicious.
We were quick to order two plates of the speciality which I had been constantly reading about online. Fried goats cheese. Yup. It was cold outside and this was just what the body was craving for. It wasn't goopy, it was actually even the tiniest bit rubbery, which sounds odd, but is actually really nice. The flavour was just wonderful, especially with the red wine!
We demolished two plates. No problemo.
We then got cubes of beef with a bit of chilli. Don't be too scared, the chilli's are more for show than taste. Not too spicy, but full of flavour, and just delightfully tender. I loved that these were all served on toothpicks, it was almost tapas like and reminded me a bit of a Philipino dish called Salpicao which is often had as a snack.
Andrew was craving kebabs. We let him indulge. Nothing overly spectacular, but hey its meat. Wouldn't mind more char on them.
This was a surprisingly good dish. It's a mint leaf salad. Yup, that stuff that's normally used as garnish for your cocktails. It was dressed in a light vinegary but spicy (but not overly) dressing which, when juxtaposed against the mint, made for a very very refreshing taste. It was absolutely addictive and I was so tempted to order a second plate. Mmmmm.
The vegetables were fairly mediocre, could have been seasoned quite a bit more and far too mushy for my taste.
Now try this on for size. Pomegranate flowers. I mean, I always knew there were pomegranates, but who had the bright idea of eating the flowers of all things?!
I really liked this as something different though, the flowers themselves were actually quite crunchy, and oddly sweet. At the centre of the flowers was something even harder, but when bitten into just burst forth with more sweetness, I'm assuming this is a seed or something in the flower.
Other than the fact that I thought there was a little too much spring onion, this was probably one of the dishes I enjoyed the most (although you can't beat fried goat cheese).
We thought we would try to get some fish into our spread (I'm just sort of realising how much we actually ordered as I blog...). I can't remember what sauce this was, but it was all brown, thick, covered the whole fish and had a really strange taste. Almost tangy, but not citrus. Not one of the favoured dishes of the night.
Two of our group ordered chicken soup. Whilst I don't know what it tasted like...they served it with a teaspoon! We could not figure out heads or tails how we were supposed to drink it, as even though the bowl was quite small, it was still taking absolutely ages to drink with the spoon!
So in the end, the traditional Chinese methods took over and down the hatch it all went!
The last thing we ordered was the fried potato pancake. This would seriously make fantastic drunk food. It was carby, oily and crispy. Everything a girl could want surely.
After our meal, our group jumped into a couple of taxi's and went down to the Grand Hyatt to go to the Cloud 9 Bar as I had heard it had an amazing view. When we got up there, we couldn't see the view initially so we shrugged our shoulders, slid into a booth and had desserts, hot chocolates and a few girly cocktails.
On our way out though, we did actually look out the window and realised that we were so high up, we were actually ABOVE the clouds.
It was quite spectacular.
So a fitting end to a very brief visit to Shanghai.
- 2/F, Area E, Ju'Roshine Life Art Space, 169 Jinxian Lu (near Maoming Lu),Shanghai, China