Monday, July 26, 2010

Shanghai 2010: City Temple

Yes, it is another random and long-overdue update of my March excursion to Shanghai. I've been putting this off for a while, but I knew at some point, I had to dedicate a post to the City Temple (or ShengHuangMiao) which originally began as a religious place but has since evolved into a tourism/food extravaganza.

City Temple is one of those places that you have to visit at least once when you go to Shanghai (we visit it every time). Unfortunately, like most places, it's slowly losing the genuine "feel" of a cultural center and has over the years become much more commercialized and tourist-trappish. When I first visited 4 years ago, I remember going to a small, humble restaurant to eat the most delicious xiaolongbao (soup dumplings) I have ever tasted in my life. However, this last March, I noticed that the street food and sights no longer seemed so authentic. Still, a lot of the fun remains, so I advise anyone who wishes to visit to go as soon as possible - before it disappears entirely!

 Shanghai soup dumplings, or xiaolongbao, are what made this place originally famous. Although they're not as good as they used to be (in my personal opinion), they're still amazing. You won't get anything much better unless you start venturing into dirty local back alleys to find the real stuff. I actually have found some recipes for it online, but I've never had the guts to make them myself.You have a delicious mixture of meat and/or crab surrounded by a tasty broth all wrapped in the thinnest skin possible and then steamed. I think the broth is made by putting a piece of flavored gelatin in between the filling beforehand. Anyway, it's a culinary feat of genius. How anyone could have thought of it beats me.

Some other street foods we found:

Fried fish Spun peanut candy
Seafood skewersShanghai Hairy Crab
Shrimp and CrayfishSticky Rice Shumai
Giant Soup Dumplings

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