Shanghai First Impressions

Shanghai never ceases to amaze me. Every time I’m there, it seems to grow bigger and taller and Henry was blown away by how modern it is.  We got off our AA flight tired and hungry (the food on the plane was some of the worst I’ve ever had) and hurried to the apartment that I had rented on West Nanjing Road.  I definitely recommend looking into an apartment rental for accommodations if you’re traveling with a few other people and/or are looking for a more authentic experience.  Our apartment was in a 100+ year old building home to a variety of businesses and residences and located in an area with many locals.


Master bedroom of our old school Shanghai apartment (image from Tripadvisor)

Master bedroom of our old school Shanghai apartment (image from Tripadvisor)

Dining room of our old school Shanghai apartment (image from Tripadvisor)

Dining room of our old school Shanghai apartment (image from Tripadvisor)

To address our hunger, we headed to Shouning Road, a street known for its seafood (crawfish specifically) and late night hours.  For our first meal in China, we decided to make three food stops (I forgot to take a photo of the famous Shanghainese hairy crab that we ate at No. 23 Shouning Road but to be honest, it was rather unremarkable and not worth the cost).

Skewer Lady

We ate 6 skewers for 10 yuan. Chicken cartilage was the best.

Wok Guy

We shared an order of Yangzhou fried rice for 10 RMB.


After a night’s rest, it was time for breakfast. We walked with my grandparents from the apartment to Huanghe Road in an old part of town. Along the way, Grandpa told us stories of Shanghai “before the liberation” (prior to 1949).

Breakfast was, again, a three part affair. One of my all-time favorites is Shengjian Bao (aka Shengjian Mantou) and these little pan-fried buns can be found on any street corner in Shanghai.  They are more popular in Shanghai for everyday consumption than the more famous Xiaolongbao (XLB). For some reason, it seems like every restaurant in the US has XLB on their menu and there are actually quite a few places in the SGV that do them well but Shengjian Bao is rarely available back home. Also, Jianbing (part three of meal) is the ubiquitous Chinese street food but is almost completely nonexistent in the US and what options we do have back home are all disappointing.  All this means is that we had to get our Chinese street food fix in before we had to leave.

Shengjian Bao

First stop was Yang’s Dumplings, who specializes in Shengjian Bao. These buns are filled with meat and are extra juicy so be careful before taking the first bite.


Second stop is the Jia Jia Tang Bao, home to Shengjian Bao’s more famous cousin, Xiaolongbao. A lot of travel books will direct you to Ding Tai Fung for this dish but DTF isn’t even Shanghainese!

Jianbing Guozi

We were stuffed after the first two stops but when we saw this guy making Jianbing on the street on our way back to the apartment, we couldn’t resist getting one.


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