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  Chinese Way>Life

Eat your way across Shanghai on foot

2013-03-20 11:12:12


"Our study abroad group went out for dinner and one of the students, a Chinese-American who grew up speaking Mandarin, thought he would play a practical joke on all of us. He ordered drunken shrimp and bull frog," she says.


A Shanghai breakfast stand serves jianbing, or Tianjin-style pancake
"Let's just say I didn't eat much of my first meal. Eating frog, which is really boney, lacking experience with chopsticks, wasn't ideal."

Barys resorted to rice until a friend took her to a dumpling house and the food heavens opened. "I ate about 50 dumplings in my first sitting," she says.

With some confidence, she then tried ordering again, this time successfully.

"It was amazing because it had food from every province, and the menu had English, pinyin and Chinese characters. So I took a menu and basically made it my bible. It was a lifesaver. Two or three weeks into the program when I couldn't still speak Mandarin, I was able to order for everyone at restaurants," she says.

"That's kind of how I came to love Chinese food. When I was initially terrified, the menu was fantastic. I mean I don't know what I would have done without it."

At our next stop: pulled noodles with sesame oil (congyou banmian). The texture and the flavors were simple, but great. We combined the noodles with bamboo tofu and green peppers (qingjiao fuzhu).

A tour of Chinese breakfast foods wouldn't be complete without an order of soup dumplings. Remember to use the special vinegar created at the restaurant, we're advised. It's steeped with ginger and of course, being in Shanghai, has added sugar.

We finish the tour with something sweet, a traditional Macanese egg custard tart, or danta. The Portuguese-inspired buttery pastry is topped with a creamy egg filling that isn't too sweet.

The informative, filling and fun breakfast tour lasts between two and three hours and all stops are within a 2-km radius. It includes a tour of the wet market in case you're brave enough to try Chinese cooking yourself.

Barys and her colleague Long also run noodle, dumpling and running tours through Shanghai. You'll receive an itinerary for all the restaurants you have visited after the tour.

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