I was eating my way through Shanghai in January and you can finally read the results in La Presse. Read the original article in French here or the English translation:
Shanghai Food Tour
Shanghai cuisine is the youngest in China, so it is greatly influenced by the traditions from the rest of the country, but it generally favours sweet and sour rather than hot flavours. Want to know where to eat the best dumplings, braised pork and grilled oysters in Shanghai? Follow me.
8 AM: Breakfast in the street
Let’s start the day with a tour. In between delicious stops where we get to try various local breakfasts, our guide tells us the story of Shanghai and its culinary traditions. We taste a youtiao (a stretched out doughnut), a wonton soup (a bowl of chicken broth with pork, prawn and bok choy wontons), two types of dumplings and a cifantuan (a fried dough holding glutinous rice with a filling of sugar and sesame or of vegetables, pork and duck egg). It’s the jian bing (a savoury thin pancake with eggs, green onions and hot sauce) that wins our heart. The group tours from Untour Shanghai are offered in English, but it’s also possible to take a private tour in French.
1 PM: Chinese hotpot
Chinese hot pot, originally from the North of the country, is a huge hit in Shanghai. The chain Hai Di Lao is the ideal place to experience it. First, pick your meat, seafood and vegetables, and then that cook them in broth. The Hai Di Lao employees treat their guests like royalty. If you have to wait for a table, you can get a manicure, massage or shoe shine for free.
The Mahota restaurant is another good destination for hot pot. It offers organic hotpot and farm fresh food.
4 PM: The art of tea
In the afternoon, escape the hustle and bustle of the city by visiting Wan Ling Tea House. The owner, who grew up on a tea plantation, is enthralling when she explains the Chinese art of tea. A selection of the best teas of the country can be found in her small boutique.
If you need more choices, go to the Tiashan tea market, where over 150 sellers are gathered.
8 PM: The best xialongbao
The xialongbao is THE emblematic dish of Shanghai. It’s a steamed dumpling with thin dough that is filled with pork and broth. To avoid getting burnt or splashed, there are two techniques to eat it: piercing the dumpling in a spoon or piercing the dumpling and sucking up the broth directly before devouring it. The restaurants Jia Jia Tang Bao and Lin Long Fang are among the favourites of Shanghai people, but the ultimate destination is Din Tai Fung. Their dumplings are perfected little wonders, as the chefs have spent years honing their technique.
1 PM: Crayfish Street
Late night munchies? Direction Shouning Lu. This neon lit street is dedicated to seafood. The experience is fun; you pick seafood and toppings from a stall. Oysters, scallops, crabs and prawns are grilled in front of you, and then accompanied by garlic, black bean or cheese sauce. You absolutely have to get a big plate of the local speciality, crayfish with hot sauce.
9 PM: Mr. Wu’s pancakes
When you see the long line in front of the tiny counter, you know the pancakes must be tasty. Mr. Wu has been serving its cong you bin, crunchy spring onion and lard pancakes, for over 30 years. Be patient and take advantage of the wait to observe the master at work.
Alley 159, back door of 2 Maoming Lu, near Nanchang Lu.
11 PM: More dumplings!
The shengjianbao is the second most popular dumpling in Shanghai after the xialongbao. Fried, bigger and with thicker dough, the shengjianbao is just as delicious, juicy… and hard to eat! You can find it everywhere, but we recommend the chain Yang’s Fry-Dumplings.
12 PM: Get to work
To have a better understanding of Chinese cuisine, learn to cook it. The Chinese Cooking Workshop gives excellent classes, in English. Perfect for beginners.
3 PM: Visit to the market
Now that you are getting more knowledgeable about local cuisine, why not pass by a market to get supplies? Leave with red dates from Fuxing Lu maket or fresh vegetables from Tangjiawan Lu market.
7 PM: Dinner in an art gallery
For a traditional meal in an original setting, the Art Salon is the place to go. The owner of the gallery-restaurant, Xie Cheng Cheng, carefully chooses the local artworks adorning the walls and all of the ingredients for the dishes. Try the hong shao rou (braised pork belly with a sweet red sauce), the river shrimps, the garlic eggplant or the braised yellow croaker.
10 PM: Cocktail with a view
For a nightcap, the bars along the Bund are expensive, but offer a stunning view. From Vue Bar, admire the futuristic silhouette of the city.