A Weekend in Shanghai

To be honest, I don't entirely like travelling to the mainland (China that is) very often. People are generally pretty pushy, people are quite rude, and everyone is out to make money, and if that means unashamedly ripping you off (or worse, robbing you) then fair game. Not to mention everyone speaks mandarin, which whilst I can speak a little of, I really hate doing so. It's not nice or smooth like Cantonese, it's abrasive and surgical. However, most of my complaints don't really count when it comes to Shanghai. 

Shanghai is so much more cosmopolitan than other cities in China. It beats the pants of mid-tier cities like Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Shenzhen, and in my opinion is so much nicer than Beijing. Perhaps its the french concession with its tree-lined streets, fixie-bike shops and ├╝ber chic cafe culture. Maybe its the old stylings of yuyuan and huangpu, or the shiny unorganised skyline of pudong. 

Whatever, I love Shanghai. So when offered a job interview in Shanghai I jumped with joy as it meant I could have a precious few days eating some wonderful street foot and coffee in european like streets.

I love going down to Yuyuan Gardens and getting the crab and pork xiao long bao from the famous Nanxiang Steam Bun restaurant, the supposed birthplace of the Xiao Long Bao dumpling (yeah, take that Din Tai Fung devotees!). Yeah so you have to line up for around half an hour before you can get them, and the lady at the booth screams at you if you don't have the exact change. But it's 20 yuan ($3AUD, $24HKD) for 16 of the little beauties, and they're fan-flipping-tastic. 

Shengjianbao, another staple of vast shanghai dumpling landscape, are like Xiao Long Bao but with a thicker skin, pumper and a hell of a lot more juicier  It's pretty much impossible to seek your teeth into one of these without hot savoury pork bone soup going into the eye of the Chinese bloke sitting next to you. Luckily no one gets angry, because it happens to the locals as well. 

One of the other great joys of the former french district in Shanghai is as you start to explore the back alleys is the street dining scene. Little restaurants block off small residential streets with chairs and tables. A little more upscale than dai pai dong and less hectic than dai pai dong. For 28 Yuan I got to sit outside on a cool 22 degree night with a big bottle of export Tsingtao beer, a pot of Pu-Ehr tea, and the spiciest damn Mapo Tofu i've ever had. Absolutely heavenly.

The 3 days come around pretty quickly and before I know it i'm back on the plane to Hong Kong (which when you're sipping champagne at thirtyfive thousand feet is not exactly a bad end to a perfect weekend). As much as I wish I could have spent more time in good old Shanghai, i'll go back soon. It's a foodies delight.