The Astronomer and I arrived on the shores of Shanghai ready to feast—thirteen straight hours of idleness and bad airplane food had us feeling ravenous.
Our initial plan was to grab some grub on Shouning Road, a stretch of stalls famous for its seafood, but the hootin’ and hollerin’ that we received while perusing the options was a total appetite killer. This unfortunately turned out to be the case at all of the city’s advertised street food meccas on the trip. I should’ve taken my own advice circa 2008!
Fortunately, we found what we were looking for—a slice of real Shanghai life and cookin’—while strolling down nearby Renmin Road. Down-home food served without fuss? Yes, please.
Neither The Astronomer nor I speak Chinese, so careful sleuthing, pointing, pantomiming, and smiling, lots of smiling, were the keys to eating well throughout our stay in China. While our technique wasn’t exactly ideal, it didn’t fail us once.
When we spotted a woman slurping dumplings near the corner of Shouning Road and Renmin Road, we knew that we needed a bowl of our own.
The portions in China are humongous: one bowl included fifteen or so parcels swimming in an aromatic broth sprinkled with fresh cilantro and brimming with tender slices of brisket. Black vinegar and chili oil were on hand to add tartness and spice to our soup to taste.
Stuffed with ground pork, mushrooms, and chives, and wrapped in the silkiest of skins, the hand-made dumplings warmed and satisfied.
We stumbled upon part two of dinner a short walk away, where a line of four wok stars were doing what they do best. Whenever we encounter a slew of identical vendors during our street food searches, we always choose the one with the longest line and/or the most laid-back ‘tude. Like I said earlier, hootin’ and hollerin’ just ain’t for me.
From the selection of carbohydrates on hand (rice, noodles, and rice cakes), we pointed at the rice cakes and grabbed a seat at a nearby table.
Moments later, a Styrofoam “plate” overflowing with sizzling rice cakes arrived on the scene. Complementing the wonderfully chewy and ever-irresistible rice cakes was a scramble of eggs, leafy greens, and onions in a whole lot of soy sauce. This hefty helping of carbs rounded out our supper perfectly.
We hit the hay soon after, stuffed to the brim and thrilled to be back in the land of street-side dining. This is the stuff we live for.
Our previous culinary exploits in the People’s Republic of China:
- B-Ballin’ in Beijing
- Eating in Chaoyang
- Farewell Fuwa*
- Maison Boulud – Beijing
- Peking Duck at Da Dong (with a side of baseball)
- The Great Wall of China
- Track ‘n’ Snacks in the Bird’s Nest
- Bo Innovation
- Eating in Hong Kong I
- Eating in Hong Kong II
- Eating in Hong Kong III
- Eating in Hong Kong IV