Shanghai Food and Wine Tours
Witness a culinary revolution in the clouds
At a glance, Shanghai is a city of magnificent architecture, of contemporary giants touching the clouds. But a closer look reveals plenty to see and do at ground level too. From the charm of the city’s Old Town to the scenic streets of the former French Concession, Shanghai is a place where foodies can explore for days on end. Obvious stops include the Shanghai Tower - the second-tallest building in the world - a booming shopping district with everything from high-end designers to Chinese antiques, and a leafy stroll along the Bund.
The food scene is Shanghai is full of culinary invention, as well as being of vital importance to the locals. After all, it’s around the table that families spend time together, locals celebrate special occasions and deals are brokered in the city’s thriving financial center. Not many years ago, the food here was a bland mixture of faux international cuisine and uninspired noodles and rice. But Shanghai is due to receive its own Michelin dining guide in 2017, which gives you an idea of just how far things have progressed.
On the banks of the Yangtze River and close to the Yellow Sea, Shanghai takes advantage of its waterside location with Asian favourites of shellfish and eel regularly used in dishes. The chefs of Shanghai have a reputation for well-seasoned food and an array of sweet treats. With West Lake carp along with vinegar and rice wine derived from surrounding towns, Shanghai has plenty of fresh ingredients to lay the foundations for its foodie scene.
It’s an understatement to say that Shanghai offers an abundance of dumplings. In fact, the city is home to 300 varieties of dumplings and pastries. An absolute must try in this part of the world are the Nanxiang steamed buns. Originating from the suburban town of Nanxiang, these dumplings are stuffed with minced pork and served with cold vinegar to help cool down the temperature. Tasty xiaolóngbāo dumplings can also be enjoyed for next-to-nothing. These thin dough parcels are filled with a delicious soup before being steamed, so are literally oozing with flavour.
For something you’re unlikely to find at home try shansi leng mian, eel noodles. Eel is often used in Shanghai cuisine and you’ll find many dishes made with this meaty fish. Shansi leng mian is served as two separate parts which you then mix together for yourself. First, you’ll be handed a pot of flat wheat noodles that are served cold with a sesame sauce. The eels are served hot and are cooked together with ginger, soy, salted bamboo and caramelised scallion.
If you happen to visit Shanghai in summer then you’re in for a treat: zongzi. Zongzi are pyramid shaped parcels of sticky rice, filled with pork or red bean paste and wrapped in a bamboo leaf. Strongly rooted in ancient Chinese tradition, the summer sees many food stalls serving zongzi, especially during the Dragon Boat Festival.
Shanghai is a city brimming with things to do and wonderful culinary experiences. The locals take pride in their food and serve up a diverse range of dishes built around seafood, and whether you’re slurping down noodle soup or experimenting in the city’s fusion scene, you’re sure to leave with plenty of memories and an appetite for more.