A cultural experience as much as a culinary one, be sure you pop into one of Shanghai's many "wet markets" for a true flavor of the city. Vegetables, fruits, eggs, meat, grains, rice, fish, every variety of tofu you can imagine....these vendors put Western supermarkets to shame in their selection of fresh produce and unusual cuts of meat.
While wet markets can be found across the city, one of my favorites is on Taikang Lu in between the lane entrances for Tianzifang.
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Baozi: Steamed Buns
If you notice gigantic bamboo steamers perched atop roadside countertops with wafts of steam pouring out into the street, there’s a good chance they’re packed with fresh baozi. These steamed rice buns are filled with either minced greens with tofu (a refreshing vegetarian option) or a typical savory pork mixture. Order a couple for a hearty snack or pick them up in the morning for a breakfast on the go.
Tip: If you want the vegetarian option ask for "shu-tsai".
Tucked out of the way is the tiny little storefront of Durianything. And yes, as the name implies, they specialize in durian. If you're unfamiliar with this infamous Asian fruit, it's likely that you've at least smelled it in the past. Notable for its, um, pungent aroma, Durian is usually either loved or loathed. But whether you're interested in trying it for the first time or you're a diehard durian fan, this is a great place to drop in. They offer a selection of durian-based products that makes trying this provocative fruit less intimidating that sinking your teeth into the real deal. And hey, you might just get hooked!
No. 37 Dining & Bar is, unsurprisingly, located at #37, Lane 155. You'll notice it from the large bar lining the alley way where all you need to do is walk up and plop yourself down in a chair. Not terribly unique in their drink selection, it's still a great place to take a load off your feet and assess your gift list. And, it's a little more tucked out of the way than some of the other spots where you'll have people bumping into you and splashing that mulled wine all over your jacket.