There is no subtle art to wandering around. Sometimes you find things by sheer accident, and sometimes you don’t. Recently, in a fit of culinary despair, I typed the words “Shanghai Pierogies” into Google. Why? Real Polish food is the rarest of treats for me. I say that as somebody with Polish-American blood. Only, like any cuisine, it has lost some of its authenticity once it immigrated to US soil and changed over a generation or two. For many Americans, Polish food can be summed up as basically pierogies and kielbasa. Possibly also stuffed cabbage. Everything else is slightly alien. Still, that being said, even the most basic American variants on Poland are easily missed when you live in China.
So, “Shanghai Pierogies.” Did that search net any results? Actually, yes — on the first page. Something called Pierogi Ladies popped up, and that lead to a “work in progress” website that at least listed a Chinese address. Once I set to actually locating the place, it turned out not that hard to find.
Over all, the place is small, and it’s in a little nook off of Jiaozhou Road. This is in walking distance from Jingan Temple and its Line 1 subway station, and it’s a relatively simple route with turns on two streets. Once you’re on Jiaozhou Road, it straight through a few intersections. As I said earlier, it’s in a nook and not a storefront facing the road. So, one has to pay attention to building numbers and look for #283.
The interior is actually rather cozy. I was greeted by this bit of furry cuteness. At first, I thought the cat was happy to see me, but it’s a cat — there is always another motive in play. My selected seat was next to a heater.
There is a lot of charm packed into the ambiance of this small space, and that’s even if you forget about that cat. Some of it is quite sassy.
One might argue that this is a cafe more than an actual restaurant. So, if you sit, somebody will not come and take your order. You have to go to the bar.
How was the food? Normally, whenever I try a place that’s new to me, I normally stick with simple things that can be compared to other dining experiences. I said “normally.” Since they were out of Polish sausage, I opted for blood sausage instead.
Arguably, this is not the most photogenic of dishes. And to be honest, the name “blood sausage” used to scare me. When I was actually in Poland many years ago, I refused to even try it because I was disgusted by the word “blood.” Now, I have lived in China for many years and have eaten plenty of things that would have grossed out my former, squeamish self. Turns out, blood sausage is quite delicious when paired with scrambled egg whites, bread, and warm pickles. Of course, I also had to try what I had Googled in my fit of culinary despair.
There seems to be an infinite number of pierogies to be had. Americans normally eat the potato ones in large quantities. They are sometimes the only variety you can find in a standard supermarket’s frozen food section. If I had been having a pierogi craving, it would have been for that particular type. They did not disappoint. In fact, there are so many types of pierogi available at this place — including an intriguing duck stuffed one — that I absolutely want to try. Also, the menu is filled out with other traditional Polish dishes like bigos hunter’s stew and much more. So, it’s almost like I have no choice. Next time I am in Shanghai, I am going to have to go back.