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Shanghai Cuisine

It’s not just Internet stars, foods are becoming wanghong sensations too - April 13, 2018


When a product becomes a wanghong ­— the word for an Internet celebrity or an online sensation — people are more than willing to stand in long queues to have a try.
In the past two years, from Heytea the tea franchise to Gelaoguan the spicy bullfrog hotpot, many wanghong foods and drinks have emerged in Shanghai and the industry is never short of surprises.
McDonald’s Szechuan sauce
The fast food chain’s legendary Szechuan sauce has finally arrived in its outlets in China. For a limited time of three weeks, McDonald’s is offering the famous condiment for Chicken McNuggets alongside a new Chinese inspired Kung Pao sauce.
They are advertised as wanghong sauces. A box of five Chicken McNuggets plus a packet of the new sauce retails for 10 yuan (US$1.6).
There are lots of stories related to the Szechuan sauce.
Soon after the third season of Cartoon Network’s “Rick and Morty” premiered on April 1, 2017, a 20-year-old tub of original Szechuan sauce was auctioned on eBay for US$14,700 on April 11. The seller found a packet of the vintage sauce when cleaning an old car they had just bought and went online to see if it’s worth anything after watching the recent episode of “Rick and Morty.”
“I hope somebody who wants to eat some 20-year-old gnarly sauce gets this. I would prefer not to sell it to a collector,” wrote the seller.
The long-discontinued condiment was launched in 1998 to coincide with The Walt Disney Company’s animated feature film “Mulan” and it was popularized by “Rick and Morty.”
In October 2017, McDonald’s briefly brought back the Szechuan sauce in select stores in the US and thousands of people showed up in lines. New packets of the sauce were auctioned for nearly US$1,000 on eBay.
Across China, spicy chili sauce is an integral part of many regional cuisines, and it comes in all sorts of flavors.
Despite its name, McDonald’s Szechuan sauce doesn’t have the spicy, Sichuanese flavor — it’s a sweet-and-sour BBQ sauce.
Tik Tok milk tea
Drinking tea has become a thing in recent years. But it’s not traditional Chinese teas or Western-style blends attracting huge crowds, it’s naicha, or milk tea.
Whether you visit Yidiandian, Heytea, CoCo or other notable franchises, there are always long lines during the peak hours. Young Chinese have taken up a new highly addictive tea drinking habit that’s very hard to get out of.
As a result, wanghong tea shops and products are popping up one after another, offering customers an endless experience of new concepts and flavors.
Naicha lovers and food bloggers have researched in-depth how to order naicha, as the highly detailed ordering process allows customers to decide the amount of ice and sugar as well as adding ingredients for complex texture.
So they’ve created a long list of ways to customize drinks.
Tik Tok, the popular Chinese video social network, has contributed the latest wanghong naicha from CoCo.
The No. 1 magical potion is the caramel milk tea with pudding and highland barley, ice and no sugar.
Because of its huge popularity, it’s sold out in many CoCo shops. If it is available, there’s no need to repeat the long order: Just ask the cashier for wanghong naicha.
Another Tik Tok wanghong naicha is the Tieguanyin pearl milk tea with highland barley, ice and sugar free. The beverage is heavily packed with chewy ingredients, so it’s extra thick with less liquid.
Other tea franchises also have similar customized drinks that are immensely popular.
At Yidiandian, the ice cream black tea with big bubbles and cream foam, ice-free and 30 percent sugar as well as Ovaltine pudding and ice cream, ice and sugar free are top picks among naicha fans.
Soufflé pancakes
Japanese soufflé pancakes have become a new dessert sensation, and the queues in front of the several popular shops selling them are very long on weekends.
These tall and adorable pancakes are incredibly fluffy and light, as they combine the best parts of soufflé and pancake into one ultimate comfort food. The theory behind the soufflé pancakes is to add meringue, which helps to make the pancakes tall and airy. The better the meringue, the fluffier the pancakes.
Hotcake on Hengshan Road is a small eatery specializing in soufflé pancakes. They offer a lot of different toppings and flavors such as berry, caramel cinnamon apple, banana republic and honey butter.
The lines are very long, especially on weekends and during holidays. The pancakes are packaged in paper boxes so one can even enjoy them on the go. The shop is very small and only has four or five seats.
Fine café and canteen is another popular restaurant that sells soufflé pancakes. They have a unique pumpkin cream flavor.
The Caxton, a sports bar, has also added soufflé pancakes on the menu with four flavors to choose from: tiramisu, Taiwanese bubble tea, strawberry cream and peaches with ice cream. The pancakes are nicely cooked and usually there’s no long waiting lines.
The pancakes are freshly made to order, so it takes some waiting time.
To avoid the long lines, you can also recreate the soufflé pancakes at home. There are different recipes online with step-by-step instructions on how to make the sweet treats, which is just a little more complicated than the classic pancakes.
Be warned, these soft and delicious pancakes may make you never want the breakfast classic any other way.

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