How many of you are planning on going to ¬†Shanghai? Well, here’s something that will make your trip much more fun. See Shanghai can either be a modern day Hong Kong Or if you play your cards right and make a little time, you can catch a glimpse of the old city. And even better you can dine there.
Yep, just minutes from the stuffy¬†hi-tech business district of modern Shanghai, traditional street food is sold from the back doors of people living in the 1930s-built Jing’an Villas neighborhood.
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Jing’an Villas is basically comprised of 183 subdivided three-storey units that were built in 1932. The architecture of the area was partly modelled on European-style terraced housing but also incorporates the Chinese concepts of common space, very unique to Shanghai. It was very close to being torn down just a few years ago, but thankfully they stopped it from happening and today it’s your one stop shop for some of the best, most authentic food you’ll find. It’s like visiting your grandmother and getting to eat her food.
For a bowl of midday noodles, visit¬†stall #107, tucked away at the end of a quiet alley. Here, a small army of ¬†ladies called¬†“aunties”, serves up bowl after bowl of noodles to the hungry. You’ll have to come early for their famous soup wontons; if you come at lunch, you’ll likely be offered a bowl of scallion oil noodles. ¬†To make the meal a bit more filling, ask to have your noodles topped off with a stewed, hard-boiled egg, a veggie “chicken” filet made from tofu, or a fried pork chop.
For a taste of the classics, check out¬†stall #15 near the entrance at Nanjing Xi Lu. This is the place to go if you’ve just snacked your way around the lanes, cafes and small shops in the area but are hungry for something more substantial. But ¬†you’re going to have to write down your order yourself. ¬†Here you have before you all the Shanghai classics ‚Äď everything from pork wontons to fried rice, fried noodles and sliced stir-fried glutinous rice with greens.¬†¬†You may even get a crash course in writing by copying Chinese characters from the red display menu.
For a cup of milk tea, stop by¬†stall #128 or Denny House, named after its owner, Denny Wong. This is just a window that opens out of a first-floor living room turned tea shop. It’s Hong Kong-style milk tea. The house mix of tea leaves is brewed in the traditional manner but steeped for a longer than usual in a large pot lined with a long cloth filter, which looks freakishly like s a pair of not so sexy underwear that the beverage has been nicknamed “silk stockings milk tea”.¬†¬†They pour evaporated milk in and you have a beverage unlike any other. Like just about everything else in Hong Kong, milk tea is a fusion of British and local traditions, and the result is a refreshingly smooth, rich cup to take you through the rest of the afternoon. Hong Kong-style milk tea is also the basis of the bubble tea craze that you see all over the world‚ÄĒbut not here. Denny is a traditionalist.
Check out all our cheap flights to Shanghai. It’s a city to be seen.