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On the trail of wild mushroom menus
By Li Anlan

July through October is the premier season for fresh mushrooms, especially wild ones like boletus, matsutakes and termite mushrooms. 

Wild mushrooms often come from the remote mountain forests of Yunnan Province in southwestern China, where ideal growing conditions produce prolific crops. More than 250 species of edible fungi are found in Yunnan, comprising about two-thirds of Chinaís total.

Thanks to modern airfreight, restaurants in Shanghai can incorporate fresh mushrooms into their cuisines. Wild boletus and matsutakes are the most commonly used. If you are seeking out a restaurant especially to enjoy fresh mushroom dishes, it might be good to ask whether they are currently in supply when making reservations. 



Xiangcao, which translates as ìherb,î is a restaurant chain specializing in Yunnan-style hotpot. 

During the wild mushroom season, one of the most popular ways in Yunnan to enjoy freshly harvested fungi is in a hotpot. Many restaurants in the capital Kunming put a variety of mushrooms on display, allowing customers to choose which they want in their hotpot. 

The special broth at Xiangcao is made from stewing various kinds of mushrooms. The pot is divided into four sections, three ó mushroom, tomato and sour ó are used to cook the meat, vegetables and tofu. A fourth in the middle is for mushroom dishes only to make a delicious soup.

These restaurants also offer wild mushroom platters, with either four or six varieties of mushrooms, including white, black and yellow boletus, Caesarís mushrooms and matsutakes.

Tofu from Jianshui, a county in Yunnan, is also a specialty here.

Visit www.idealshanghai.com/venues/17494/ for more information.


Deep South Yunnan Ethnic Cuisine 

This Yunnan restaurant serves several wild mushroom and edible wild herb dishes using ingredients harvested in Yunnan and delivered on the same day.

Gastrodia chicken hot pot with wild mushroom (168 yuan) is a seasonal specialty. Gastrodia is a herb used in traditional Chinese medicine. In this dish, a whole chicken is stewed in a hotpot to provide a base broth that is accompanied by assorted wild mushrooms and a bowl of rice noodles.

The seasonal wild mushroom menu also features boletus wrapped in banana leaf, boletus with bullfrog, and Catathelasma ventricosum mushrooms stir fried with green pepper.

Visit www.idealshanghai.com/venues/17495/ for more information.


Beyond the Clouds 

This Yunnan cuisine restaurant also uses seasonal ingredients freshly flown to Shanghai. 

In the wild mushroom season, it offers a special menu of about two dozen dishes, most made with boletus and matsutake mushrooms. These include stir-fries with other meat and vegetables as well as soups.

The price of these dishes ranges from about 100 to 300 yuan.

In addition, the Dali spicy and sour fish, Luoping rice cakes, stir-fried chicken and goat milk curd with red bean paste filling are also signature dishes here.

Visit www.idealshanghai.com/venues/17478/ for more information.


Jen Dowís Lianxiangzhai Vegetarian Restaurant

The third floor of the Jen Dow franchise is an all-day vegetarian buffet.

Matsutake tea is popular here. Itís actually a light soup, stewed with matsutake mushrooms and dried wolfberries, then served in a teapot with small cup.

The buffet also features a truffle risotto and Western-style creamy mushroom soup.

Every Monday is ìhealthy day,î with the buffet discounted to 138 yuan per person. 

All other times, the buffet costs 178 yuan at lunch and 198 yuan at dinner. 

Visit www.idealshanghai.com/venues/17529/ for more information.


Honey & Honey 

This Yunnan restaurant serves a fish hot pot cooked in stone bowls.

Fresh fish cooks very quickly. A fish broth creates an excellent base for cooking wild mushrooms like bamboo fungus and termite mushrooms.

Visit www.idealshanghai.com/venues/17496/ for more information.


Cloud South 

This franchised Yunnan restaurant celebrates the boletus season from July to October. The menu includes a mixed wild mushroom stir-fry, boletus and bullfrog, and boletus rice.

Visit www.idealshanghai.com/venues/17497/ for more information.


Niu Mo Wang 

The name of this creative restaurant means ìking of beef and mushrooms.î It serves the two ingredients in hotpot and barbeque formats, which can both be cooked simultaneously in a special two-tier vessel. You can order various kinds of beef to go with a beef and mushroom broth base. Mushroom choices include matsutakes and chanterelles.

Beef and wild mushroom dumplings are also a house special.

Visit www.idealshanghai.com/venues/17498/ for more information.

Vegan MSG substitute

Using common mushrooms sold in farmerís markets, you can make a healthy, vegan condiment in your own kitchen to add as flavoring to dishes.

Thinly slice 500 grams of white mushrooms and 100 grams of shiitake mushrooms, layer on foil on a baking tray and put in a 120-150 degrees Celsius oven until the mushrooms are totally dry. Then grind the dried mushrooms into a powder, which can be used when doing stir-fries or soups.

Oleí supermarket is selling fresh wild mushrooms in its stores nationwide. White boletus, matsutakes and Russula virescens are flown in from Yunnan Province and packaged every morning.

The tremellas and bamboo fungus are not expensive species, but fresh ones are rarely found in the market.

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