The Hunt For Xiaolongbao

Ever since we first arrived here, the question I ask every native is, “What special dishes and foods should I try here in Shanghai?” Unfortunately though, their responses have all been negative, apparently Shanghai is a city that just has a fusion of every Chinese region and flavor. So you can try every kind of Chinese cuisine here, but nothing is really special or native to Shanghai. Despite this fact, there are two dishes that are most famous here in Shanghai, hairy crabs and xiao long bao. Xiao long bao (小笼包) are similar to Chinese meat buns (包子) but instead of just having meat within, there is also a broth.


Yesterday, Diana, Luke, and I went on a mission to try xiao long bao….they couldn’t be just from anywhere because we wanted to be sure we got the authentic taste; so I researched on Google for a long time. I found several places, but the New York Times and several reliable resources proclaimed Ding Tai Feng in Xintiandi to be the best xiao long bao restaurant in Shanghai. We took the subway to Xintiandi and discovered that it is a major tourist attraction, with many beautiful stores, malls, coffee shops, and restaurants. After looking through a large mall, we started asking the directions for Ding Tai Feng and finally found it. One look at the menu, though, and my wallet started yelling in pain! The cheapest xiao long baos were 58 RMB for 10 pieces….so of course (being college students on a budget) we just ordered two sets, one with pork and the other with chicken. Now I know what all of the hype is about, they were SOO delicious. You have to give them a minute to cool down, because the broth may burn otherwise, dip them in vinegar and eat, the soup within is amazing.

After this tease of a meal, though, we had to get out of there to stuff our faces somewhere affordable. So we got back on the subway and found what we were looking for, a stop titled JiaoTong University. After being a student in Qingdao for three years, I have learned that the cheapest shops and restaurants in China are around universities. They understand what the college budget is like over there, haha.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Amber
    Jul 11, 2011 @ 04:17:46

    Hi, Marsha! Just wanted to let you know that I am beyond excited to have stumbled across your blog. It seems like it’s nearly impossible to find a blog by someone living in China, let alone a black woman. I’m a young, black woman myself so I’m super excited to read about your experiences! I’m hoping to go over within the next year to teach English. Keep up the great work! 🙂


    • marshabarsha
      Jul 13, 2011 @ 06:47:58

      Aw, thanks Amber! That made my day to be honest 🙂
      I’m writing mostly to have a souvenir that I can keep forever, but knowing that I might be able to give insight to some aspects of Chinese culture and experiences makes me happy. Let me know if you have any questions~
      Also, do you know what area of China you would teach in??


      • Amber
        Jul 14, 2011 @ 00:53:38

        I’m really thinking about one of the major cities like Beijing and Shanghai. In fact, Beijing is kind of the only place I want to be haha. But your blog has made me start to consider other places after reading about your experiences in Qingdao. Would you say that you prefer the mega cities like Beijing and Shanghai, or places like Qingdao?

        During my research about teaching in China, a lot of the ads I came across always say that they want you to have at least 2 years experience (and I have none). Is this strictly upheld or would I have no problem finding a teaching position?

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