The idea of Beauty & The Food series started with a self study exploring local food and slowly evolved into adding a unique narrative of beauty secrets from women around the world. I have always had a fascination with food and how many cultures use food in beauty products or just beauty secrets of other cultures and more so the unique parallel in find with beauty and food and the beauty of food. With this series, I'd like to explore different cultures perspective on food, how love is projected through its food, and each culture's unique contribution to Memphis through it's intimate and personal offering of it's countries traditional food. I realized it is indeed an offering. All of the restaurants I choose to dine with offer so much to the customers who walk through their doors. They offer entrance into their culture, some-- their family, and huge pieces of themselves.
My first stop on my tasting tour was Shang Hai in Midtown Memphis. I have walked through the doors many many days of my life and even had food cooked for me totally off the menu. Coming here was like coming home for dinner. I have so many childhood memories of ordering Friday take out or random lunch dates with my dad who believed the vegetable egg rolls are the BEST in Memphis. There have been many nights I've had the pleasure of seeing Nguyen sitting on a stool watching her TV shows literally rolling cabbage and carrots together in preparing to make the most delectable egg rolls ever.
Never had Thai or Vietnamese food?! Shang Hai would be a restaurant I definitely recommend. It's like your Vietnamese grandmother cooking for you. No seriously, Nguyen is the cook--she is the grandmother. You'll see Tweet and Madison there daily. The kids do homework and gather for dinner at the table and eat as a family. It's the most beautiful thing to experience. It's like you are eating right outside of the family kitchen. Shang Hai is located in a highly Asian populated community of the city so you'll get a really cool experience. Hey...you may even run into Nguyen or Tweet at the neighborhood Asian market just blocks from the restaurant.
I tried something different! I asked Tweet's daughter to suggest something I've never eaten there before that was somewhat traditional or a local favorite. I've had Pho before but not Nguyen's Pho. Pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup consisting of broth, rice noodles called bánh phở, a few herbs, and meat, primarily made with either beef or chicken. What I learned is, Vietnamese dishes are typically served with lots of greens, herbs, vegetables, and dipping sauces, hot and spicy pastes, and a squeeze of lime or lemon juice. They're served with hoisin sauce.
It was very light and clean and refreshing. The touch of Thai Basil was a perfect unexpected compliment to the shrimp and herbs. I loved that I could add as many veggies and peppers as I preferred to my taste. What I loved...is the beauty I found in the process of eating the meal. The colors, the preparation and the need to slow down to actually savor the taste and details of the meal.
EXPERIENCE SHANG HAI for yourself... tag your pictures using #beautyandthefood
1400 Poplar Ave, Memphis, TN 38104