Shanghai Dumplings

Shanghai Dumplings


Shanghai skyline

After almost 10 days in China – split between Beijing and Xian, D and I were ready for a break. Don’t get us wrong, there was plenty to see and do in both Beijing and Xian but overall we felt overwhelemd by the two cities and generally didn’t get a great vibe from them.

We had Couchsurfed in both cities and without being centrally located found ourselves having to figure out the buses, of which we never knew exactly where to get off and struggled to communicate with drivers and passengers alike. Add in the pollution levels and it’s just impossible to even get a breathe of fresh air.

With slightly over a week in China, we were already worn out.

So when we finally arrived via night train to Shanghai we instantly felt refreshed. Shanghai felt unlike the other cities in China and though it has a population of over 20 million, it was really a breathe of fresh air for us.

We were initially planning on staying in a hotel in Shanghai but eventually settled on couchsurfing with an American expat family who live in a beautiful, centrally-located apartment.  Upon arrival, we were able to take showers (a luxury in and of itself) with amazing water pressure (even more of a luxury) and come back to life.

Cleaned up, we were ready to explore the city.

Signs in Shanghai

Wait a minute – is that English on the signs!?! With signs like these I knew getting around the city would not be a problem.

Shanghai skyline

And once we got to the Bund and gazed at the alien-esque uber modern skyline across the river we really were impressed. What is this city? This western yet alien lookalive smack dab in the middle of coastal China.

All I can say is I like it.

Strolling through the side streets you wouldn’t even be able to tell you were in China (in fact, our Beijing couchsurfer indicated that Shanghai was not even really “China”). With small boutique shops, designer brand name conglomerates, and streets lined with romantic lanterns, you wouldn’t be able to tell you weren’t in a Western city. At this point in our travels this was exactly what I needed.

Something familiar. Something that resembled home.

Yet I digress.

The best part about Shanghai – the dumplings. I liked them too…a lot. 

Nanxiang Steamed Bun Restaurant

Following Lonely Planet’s recommendation, we headed to Nanxiang Steamed Bun Restaurant. With a long line out front I knew we were at the right place. For a decent portion of dumplings we only paid 20 yuan (the equivalent of $3). The star of these dumplings is not the filling or the dough though, it’s the juices inside. Either from the fatty pork or water added to the filling, once the dumplings are steamed there is a delicious steamy hot juice hidden right inside that light pocket of heaven.


Be careful not to tear the dumpling as you grab at it with your chopsticks so as not to let all the liquid seep out.


Served with a vinegary sauce they make for a perfect mid afternoon snack or lunch.

Making dumplings

Through the window of Nanxiang Steamed Bun Restaurant you can even see the kitchen staff working at lightning speed to get all the dumplings ready.

Overall we highly enjoyed our 3 day stay in Shanghai and it was exactly what we needed at the time. Truly the perfect way to break up our stay in the other Chinese cities. If you’re going to be flying around Asia, check out singapore airlines business class.

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  1. says

    Shanghai looks like a super cool city. Do you think they can Fed Ex me some of those adorable little dumplings? Hope you enjoy the remaining cities on your tour.

    • Vicky says

      I wish! I’m afraid it would probably be the most expensive order of dumplings ever with the shipping costs haha! It definitely is an incredibly unique city, very modern and Western feeling compared to every other city we’ve been to in China!

  2. says

    The first and only time I’ve had real bun was at a little Chinese restaurant in Queensway, London. There was a line literally out the door and down the block, and we had to wait more than an hour. But they were very tasty indeed!

    Your photography is excellent here – I can smell the dumplings and feel their texture!

    I’m probably too unadventurous to ever go to China, so thanks for showing us a peek!

    • Vicky says

      Wow – an hour long wait is intense! Thankfully this line moved along very fast and we probably only waited for 10-15 minutes. They had at least 8 people working in the back and making dumplings non stop so that got the process going. Thanks for the compliments on the photos! China has been quite the adventure – after spending almost 8 weeks here there have been lots of ups and downs but nothing too terrible!

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