As something slightly different to the Balkan food we had been eating for the past week, our group decided to go and try Chinese food at Shanghai because it was recommended by our hostel. It takes the place of an establishment somewhere between being a fast food takeaway and a real Asian restaurant, with orders being placed at a bar rather than at the table.
The menu was fairly decent; though it did not offer much on the capsaicin front. Nonetheless, I went for my old favourite of Kung Po Chicken (called Gung Po here, as it sometimes is). One of our party opted for a curry, and the other a meat fried rice. They arrived without much wait, though all at different times.
My Kung Po looked slightly odd, but I began eating it anyway. That was when I realised that it was not a Kung Po at all; in fact, it was not even a Chinese dish: it was a Thai Pad Kaprow. A dish not even on the menu, and yet called a Kung Po by the staff here.
Pad Kaprow just so happens to be my favourite Thai dish even if it was a little oily and lacking completely in the chilli peppers it requires here, and this one was actually very good. If I had ordered a Pad Kaprow I would have been very happy with it. I did not order a Pad Kaprow though, I ordered a Kung Po. It was also silly of them to give me chopsticks, as Thai cuisine does not use these. The meal even had a generous amount of holi basil, an ingredient found in Thai cuisine as opposed to Chinese.
My companions enjoyed their meals a lot more than I did for this reason, though the curry was asked for extra hot and they seemed to just put black pepper in it rather than any form of chilli. I tried a bit of the fried rice, and that was very good. It is unfortunate that my dish was so far from the mark; serving a Thai dish and calling it a different Chinese dish is akin to if they had called it a bean burrito or a prawn risotto. It simply wasn’t what it was supposed to be.
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