The first thing I had in Shanghai was a Portuguese egg tart. I couldn't have asked for a better way to start my day. Each glorious bite saw the soft, ethereal custard disintegrating joyously in my mouth.
Hours later, after a leisurely session of window shopping, we wandered into a posh supermarket deli and grabbed some Japanese takeaway for lunch. I opted for sour plum onigiri and salmon sushi rolls.
|omusubi (aka onigiri) and sushi.|
Our funds had been running low but we still had some Australian dollars which we exchanged at the bank for Chinese Renminbi. The next day, we felt so rich that we each got a fancy dessert at Haagen Dazs. This was actually our lunch. Oh yeah.
I'm not a big tiramisu fan, but the coffee ice cream in Simon's tiramisu dessert was lovely.
|haagen dazs tiramisu dessert.|
This was my Swiss-roll-inspired dessert. Thick crepes wrapped around strawberry ice cream, served with a tuile biscuit and small dollops of raspberry and mango ice cream.
|haagen dazs swiss dessert.|
After a day out sightseeing and admiring the night view from what is currently the tallest observation deck in the world at Shanghai World Financial Center, we popped by Din Tai Fung on the third level of the building for a filling banquet dinner. It included their famous xiaolongbao, of course. These gorgeous little pork dumplings were exquisitely made - you could spy the soupy interior through their translucent skins. To eat, lift carefully, bite a tiny hole and suck in the savoury broth before devouring the rest of the dumpling with liberal doses of black vinegar and fresh ginger.
|xiaolongbao at din tai fung, swfc.|
No matter which city we were in, we never seemed to have trouble finding a good breakfast takeaway spot. In Shanghai, our favourite one was a shop/stall selling a variety of buns.
This xianroubao - basically a type of pork bun - was like a big, doughy, greasy version of xiaolongbao. It wasn't easy to eat this without making a mess! One big bite reveals the meatball-ish stuffing, and then before you know it, rivulets of oil are trickling down your wrist. But oh, it was delicious. We giggled at how unhealthy it was, and continued cramming it into our mouths.
|xianroubao: pork bun, shanghainese style. watch out for the oil spill!|
Much healthier were the vegetable buns, such as this one which had shredded Chinese radish in it. Peppery. Tasty.
|chinese radish bun.|
I was happy to see how popular tea eggs were in Shanghai. Even convenience stores would often have a pot bubbling away. Many places, such as this roadside stall, would sell an egg for one yuan each.
We tried doughnuts from a couple of international chains. These offerings were from an Indonesian chain called J.Co Donuts & Coffee. Simon couldn't resist the one called Avocado Dicaprio, if only because of its awesome name. I played it safe and went for a creamy Snow White.
I can't remember which chain these doughnuts were from. It may have been from Dunkin' Donuts.
|and more doughnuts.|
For our last night in Shanghai, we decided to really live it up and went to the upmarket and fashionable Sinan Mansions of the French Concession district in search of dinner. We settled for some Chinese-influenced Peruvian cuisine at Chicha Lounge. It was very good - I particularly loved the tangy, refreshing ceviche.
|ceviche at chicha lounge.|
The seven-course set meal at Chicha Lounge stuffed us silly, but I had my heart set on visiting the Alchemist Cocktail Kitchen just next door, known for their fancy utilisation of molecular gastronomy in sophisticated cocktails and bar food. I soldiered on with my loyal compatriot towards the promise of sinfully delicious beverages, and we were not disappointed. I was in alcoholic heaven with my Pimm's Spider - cucumber and absinthe ice cream served with a flask of Pimm's No. 1 and fruit beer.
|pimm's spider at alchemist cocktail kitchen.|
On our last day, we checked out by noon but with an evening flight, we still had several hours to kill. As always, eating was a fabulous way to pass the time. I had seen these little skewers around at street stalls and I finally gave them a go. They were quite tasty.
|meaty mini skewers.|
We'd heard about Yang's fried dumplings even before we touched down on Shanghai, but I didn't hold out much hope for locating them. The fried dumplings (shengjianbao) are, again, not too unlike xiaolongbao, but heavier and with crunchy pan-fried bottoms. As luck would have it, we stumbled upon them completely by accident while exploring a shopping mall. Sloshed in chilli vinegar, these broth-spurting shengjianbao were wonderfully scrumptious. Mm-mmm! Come to mama, you serendipitous little darlings.
|the well-known pan-fried dumplings/buns (shengjianbao or shengjian mantou) from xiaoyang shengjian.|
Simon, still hungry, decided to move on to a Taiwanese-style hot dog, da chang bao xiao chang, which literally means "big sausage wrapped around small sausage". To elaborate further, it was basically a pork sausage encased in a sticky rice sausage-shaped bun.
|taiwanese-style da chang bao xiao chang.|
As for me... I was still basking in the afterglow of the shengjianbao and all I wanted was a light drink to tingle my senses. This sweet and sour calamansi juice was just the ticket.
Finally, reluctantly, our time was up. We got on to the high-speed Maglev, and bid our farewells to Shanghai. We'll be back, China. We'll be back...
|maglev train in shanghai.|