Shanghai: My last summer stop before Korea. I got clothes made, stayed in an industrial-chic hotel, ate Häagen-Dazs, went to Belgian beer bars with French staff, had spicy hot pot, and ate dumplings. Far too many dumplings. One of the best things I did in China was take a dumpling tour of Shanghai with Untour, a company I had actually bookmarked (and almost forgotten about) a couple of years prior. Yes, a dumpling tour is a real thing, and indeed, it is the best idea ever. There we were, walking around the city eating steaming hot dumplings while Shanghai had its hottest July in 140 years. Here’s the rundown:
1. Street Hawker Potstickers on Gao’an Lu, between Jianguo Xi Lu and Zhaojiabang Lu. Wheat dumplings stuffed with pork. Fried.
2. Harbin Dumpling House on 645 Jianguo Xi Lu, near Gao’an Lu. Steamed wheat-based dumplings, one kind filled with pork, the other filled with seafood (see photo at top).
3. Hengshan Café on 290 Wanping Lu, inside Xujiahui Park. Lighter rice dumplings and shredded bean curd. Rice (not wheat) dumplings are more common in Cantonese cuisine; rice needs the intense rains of the southern Canton region, but wheat grows better in the hardy North. Hong Kong, too, is a part of Canton, so those of us who have had dim sum will be most familiar with rice dumplings.
4. Heng Yue Xuan Dim Sum, 290 Wanping Lu, inside Xujiahui Park. This restaurant was beautiful and, crucially, air-conditioned. Tasty, tasty sesame rice balls and watermelon juice. So refreshing on a hot day.
5. Qin Huai Fang on 196 Guangyuan Lu, near Tianping Lu. I cannot remember what this one was about, but I am positive it was delicious.
6. Nanjing Soup Dumplings on 641 Jianguo Xi Lu, near Gao’an Lu. Classic wonton soup. As the sixth round of dumplings I could barely finish my soup. But finish I did.
And after all this food, we went on a tour of one of the wet markets: frozen dumplings, pickled eggs, fresh eggplant, greens and swimming fish. This is why it’s fun to go on tours, I think–to find out about places we never would’ve discovered otherwise, and to have a guide help us out when those five words of Mandarin just won’t cut it.