Little Lantern Buns: The Xiao Long Bao

Following this week’s news on the Xiao Long Bao and seeing so many Chinese people so endearingly (and all the more because it’s so rare) express their passion and love for this dish, I want to tell you a bit more about its history and the way it’s made, for it is truly a demonstration of Chinese culinary excellence.


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Mulan: Revelations

I was delighted when Dark Horse got in touch with me about the upcoming title “Mulan: Revelations”. Unfortunately, as this was back in the middle of convention season, I couldn’t write about it immediatey, and it was only when I saw the title on the shelves at my local comic store, that I received the kick to actually get the review up.


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Queer China

The Chinese Visual Festival is a mixed bag, documentaries, art films, first time projects and a few gems. It’s difficult for me to cover the whole festival, but I try and cover a couple of screenings each year. This year’s LGBT programme was most inviting, and having missed last year’s, it was one I was determined to attend.


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Shikumen

I select restaurants to review for various reasons. Reccomendations, publicity, invite, occasionally just simple coincidence. We came across Shikumen due to a huge advert in London’s free morning paper. With an enticing dim sum menu, and a website littered with Shangai calendar pics, we thought it would be worth a trip to their Ealing branch.


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We, Who Don’t Belong – A Translated Sample

Homeless Love is the English title given to this novel by Li Qian, published in 2013, by Zui Books, Shanghai. I would have preferred “We, Who Don’t Belong” as it reflects the Chinese title more closely. At a glance it seems to be purely a romance. The heroine, Ruan Cong, who grew up in the town of Nancheng in the south-western province of Yunnan, arrives in Shanghai, the city of dreams, to begin her university education. With a large permanent scar on her hand, Ruan Cong thinks little of her own appearance. She runs into the boy she secretly loves, Yao Lin Kai, only to find him courting the belle of the university, Chen Min Wen. Meanwhile she rejects the advances of Shi Sheng, who falls deeply for her.
There is of course, much more to the story, and ideas of home and belonging, or lack of, feature strongly. I don’t believe I am the only Chinese who has had to think long and hard about where I belong. Even before I came to Britain, the idea of inherited identity, and personal sense of belonging are a tricky one, especially as China struggles with its evaporating patriachy.

The historical upheaval in the past two hundred years has not only resulted in a Chinese diaspora that is still growing, but also frequent movement of most of the domestic population. It is not unusual for a Chinese person to be born somewhere, to grow up somewhere else, and to live thence in yet another place.


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Mid-Autumn at Shanghai Blues

Generally, I tend to merit restaurants for the quality of their food rather than the niceties of the environment, however, having found that the Sichuan restaurant we had in mind for Mid-Autumn was not quite right for the occasion, we ended up paying a visit to Shanghai Blues on High Holborn. Housed in the Grade II listed building that was formerly St. Gile’s Library, I’d had my eye on the place for a review for a while, so we decided to “drop in cold”.


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Shanghai Girls, or Shanghaied Girls?

People say, never judge a book by its cover. I have always judged contemporary novels by their covers. I trust that the penetrating market research and sensitive designs of today would somehow bring out the essence of the book on its dust jacket. This philosophy has mostly stood me in good stead (I’m talking about the hardback cover, there’s of course the paperback edition, mass market paperback edition etc… but I digress). This time, however, I feel I’ve been deceived.


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