One of my biggest goals for my trip to China was to get out of my picky eater comfort zone and try scary new foods. Almost everyone who goes raves about the diverse and unique cuisine, but I was worried about being able to order food without red meat in a country where English was rare. And of course, I threw out the possibility of accommodating my various picky preferences. With that said, a breath of fresh air brought some incredible food in Shanghai after a rougher time in Beijing, Datong and Xian.
You can still find fabulously authentic food in Shanghai, but the best part is that so many more people speak English. It was easy to find what I wanted, and here I delved into street food for the first time. My biggest regret from the trip is being too nervous to go into local joints for food, so I tried to make up for it a little bit in Shanghai.
The greatest success? EGG TARTS.
These are SO GOOD. Just look at that flakey goodness. I actually snapped this picture randomly on my cell phone without looking, and ended up loving that I captured the skyscrapers in the background! I went back to an egg tart street stall at least 3 times. The woman didn’t speak English, but it was easy enough to just indicate how many I wanted! These cost around 50 cents each…amazing.
If you’re a vegetarian, make sure you hit up Songyuelou – it will blow your mind! The menu consists of things like ‘pig liver’, ‘chicken feet’ and all the things you’d see on a normal Chinese menu, but you can eat it all. The second floor is geared to tourists with English menus, so make sure you head up there. I got sweet and sour pork that was made from tofu, and it was seriously amazing: I have never had such crunchy, flavourful, delectable tofu before.
According to everyone (which includes me) you can’t leave Shanghai without trying xiaolongbao, the local specialty! These are small dumplings that generally have pork fillings (I found chicken, and you can get shrimp and veggie as well), but the twist is that they’re also filled with searing hot soup. I went to the popular Din Tai Fung, which is, ironically, a Taiwanese chain. It was on the mall-like floor of the Shanghai World Financial Centre and crowded with locals, which is always a good sign! I burned myself multiple times sucking the soup out, and I didn’t even care – the sign of a great meal.
Apparently I Went to China to Eat Food I can Get at Home
Sometimes I question my sanity. I mean really – I’m in Shanghai and I chose to get Haagen Dasz ice cream four times? Apparently so. I cover up my shame by saying that it was late in the trip, I was tired, Western chains were so much easier…but really, if you’re going to China – it doesn’t matter how much easier it is, you will regret spending like $32 on ice-cream within two days!
As for these waffles, though…no regrets. I needed to kill some time before my visit to the Shanghai World Financial Centre, and I spotted a place called Cafe Lugo with some promising looking signs. These were the best waffles I’ve ever had, and I don’t remember how much they cost, but it was definitely worth it.
With a heavy heart, I had one more egg tart before heading off to the airport to get myself home for that thing I had forgotten about – school. Watch out for a few info posts coming up about China: I’ll impart my advice for Chinese trains on Wednesday! Spoiler alert: use the bathroom before you get on.