The Southern Barbarians

The Southern Barbarians are actually quite hospitable, once you can find them. Walking through the beautifully lit streets of the French Concession, the address for the Southern Barbarians led me to one of the innumerable plazas that dot Shanghai.

It was late by Shanghai standards. The hustle bustle on the streets was slowly dying away. The address took me to the a deserted but glittering Shanghai plaza or shopping arcade. There was no sign of the barbarians. I walked the length and the breath of the plaza but there was a very little sign of life. Right at the back of the plaza, in an alley that was much seedier than the rest of the plaza, there were three rows of chefs standing in attention and being lectured by what looked like their stern and serious leader. Their faces had a sincere expression with a hint of alarm. It looked like they were being given a dressing down, which required privacy and so I turned back. Walking around Shanghai, it is not uncommon to see employees standing in attention listening to their respective leaders. I have no idea what wisdom was being imparted but the whole scenario certainly looked like it was in a martial tradition.

I finally found the caretaker and showed him the address I had. He pointed me back in the direction of the lined up chef and so I had no choice to head back to the courtyard. As I was plucking up courage to interrupt the leader and ask him about the address, an angelic girl emerged from the dark shadows. She was unmistakably as tourist. It took a lot of effort to reach the Southern Barbarians. But it was all worth it.

Southern Barbarians specialise in the cuisine from Yunnan. Yunnan is one of the southern most provinces of China and borders Burma, Vietnam and Laos. The vegetarian component in the menu was remarkable. I orders spicy yunanese roots against the advice of the waiter. The roots very crunchy with a slight hint of woodiness. They were certainly spicy and very refreshing to eat. Next came pomegranate flowers with garlic chives. I had never imagined that pomegranate flowers could be so tasty. The flowers very green and crunchy. They had been very lightly sautéed. The result was pure bliss. The meal was finished off with a generous portion of a wild mushroom hotpot. The mushrooms were plump and varied and the hotpot hot and comforting. It was a bit on the bland side allowing me to fully appreciate the variety of wild mushrooms in the hotpot.

Southern Barbarians
2F Area E
56 Life Art Space 169 Jinxian Lu
near Maoming Nanlu
Tel.: 1362 1797 634

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