After School, a few of my students took me out to a restaurant called "Dolar Shop." It's a place where everyone gets their own hot pot of broth with a flame underneath and you have communal veggies and meats that you put in it to customize your dinner. We waited for a while outside the restaurant because it's quite a bustling place. After we got in, I tried some new foods such as cow esophagus cut into diamond shapes (this was white and rubbery kind of like squid) and some cow stomach which looked like something you might find living in a coral reef. It was white and had a lot of tentacle-like things which I think were the stomach folds. Brrrk...I don't want to think about this too deeply. I think it's good to see how far your comfort bubble can go.
While we ate and talked, and ate and talked, my thoughts focused on the simple things such as the taste and textures of the food because I wasn't always able to follow the conversation. My favorite pot add-ins were the lotus plant, which is a lot like a water chestnut in it's crunchy-ness, but has a firmer more substantial texture, the tall stringy mushrooms that come in a bundle and have the best feeling when you bite into a clump of them, and the fish balls. They had small chunks of chewy fish in a melt in your mouth sausage-y texture. Mmmm!
We also had some small rolls of mutton, shaved beef, frozen and thawed tofu (very spongy), mini-dumplings, noodles, clear seaweed noodles, bamboo shoots, and a bowl full of different greens. I'm sure I'm leaving some tasty things out, but this was the most of it. When we finished, we were served some sweet warm red rice pudding followed by some slices of watermelon and cherry tomatoes in a bowl with plastic double pronged toothpicks. It was such a good feeling to be out in the world on a balmy Shanghai night spending time in good company. What a deeply satisfying evening of simply eating out.