The narrow streets surrounding our hostel in Shanghai burst with fascinating and questionable eating opportunities. Vats of live marine creatures, frogs, and trays of unidentifiable meats were on offer from dingy storefront stalls lining the streets. At night, the hot pot restaurants set all of their metal urns on the sidewalk and hosed down the hot charcoal cooking chambers. Dumplings are everywhere, neat white pockets of dough filled with delicious seasoned pork and running with hot juice.
This is a hot pot. The urn holding fiery charcoal is affixed to the metal pot holding water, which is set into a well in the table. Add seasoning to the boiling water, then gradually add whatever ingredients you chose to order, and ladle out the soup. Ingenious.
This is my traveling partner in crime Andy, celebrating the low-rent version of hot pot -- a make-your-own-ramen setup in somewhat suspect, tiny restaurant. (The large health inspection poster on the wall showed a yellow emoji face with a straight line for a mouth, instead of a smile.) After some pantomiming, we understood that we should each take a metal colander, choose a block of dried noodles, then add the raw ingredients we want from the bins on the vaguely refrigerated shelves, then they boil it up for us in the back. My bowl has vermicelli, spinach, mushrooms and something purple.
A mere 5 yuan (76 cents) gets you this eggy crepe filled with fresh greens, plum sauce, some kind of crunchy something and possibly some couscous (?). The woman pictured here spread the thin batter on the hot round stone and folded up the whole burrito on the same surface. Whatever those ingredients were, this Chinese breakfast burrito was fantastic.