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Shanghai Dumpling Crawl: Best of the Buns
Having ticked off most of the touristy spots on past visits to Shanghai, this time I had just one thing on the agenda: dumplings. If you’re even half as obsessed as I am, then you’ll love these frills-free specialists.
The xiaolongbao at Fuchun are cheap, freshly handmade, slightly sweet, and come in a couple of variations—spring for a six-dumpling basket of the crab roe (RMB16 ($20)). Fair warning: the place is always packed and it’s difficult to order if you don’t speak any Putonghua, so come prepared. Get there early in the morning or late in the afternoon: otherwise prepare for a soul-crushing line.
650 Yuyuan Lu, Jingan, (+86) 21-6252-5117.
Jia Jia Tang Bao
You’ll have to suffer through a queue at Jia Jia Tang Bao, but at least you get to watch dumplings being made in the meantime. We tried the pure pork, as well as the crab-and-pork dumplings—both were plump, juicy, and extremely addictive. I never thought I’d say this, but these xiaolongbao might be better than Din Tai Fung’s… although I’d have to visit a few more times to be sure. If you go, be sure to order fresh ginger for RMB1 ($1.26)—otherwise, it’s not included.
Huanghe Lu (near Nanjing Xi Lu), Huangpu, (+86) 21-6327-6878.
Across the street from Jia Jia is another excellent spot: Yang’s Fry, which has multiple locations throughout the city. This shop is modern and efficient, with a very obvious menu to boot. The doughy pan-fried buns are made in an open-air kitchen so you can watch, and the smell is amazing. You can get a shrimp and pork combo, or just go pure pork—all are worth a return visit.
97 Huanghe Lu, Huangpu, (+86) 21-5375-1793.
Bundle of Joy I stayed at the Hyatt on the Bundthis trip, and was blown away by the views from the rooms. The hotel is huge, with a sanctuary of a spa, and several restaurants drawing their own followings, particularly Xindalu China Kitchen, which serves up excellent dim sum and one of the city’s best Peking ducks, and Vue Bar. And having seen quite a few bars on the Bund, I’d have to say that the Hyatt’s Vue Bar takes the crown thanks to its unique position at the turn in the river. While the veranda’s private tables are a little pricey at a RMB2,000 (US$325) minimum spend, there’s a communal hot tub and the drinks are well-crafted—just hope that the neighboring tables are filled with attractive, friendly people. Fair warning: the hotel lobby can get pretty crowded, and the rooms are starting to show their age. But the value is great overall, with a location that’s convenient for exploring and views that are hard to beat.