I was invited by Spring Airlines to find out My Shanghai Story along with a bunch of other bloggers to a cold and rainy Shanghai. After boarding the Metro, getting a little lost, asking a friendly local for directions later, we arrived at 1933 Shanghai before moving on to the DuoLun Famous Cultural People Street for lunch.
Next on the itinerary was the 豫园 (Yu Yuan) Yu Gardens, a restored example of a Ming Dynasty Chinese Garden design. Pavilions, ponds filled with carps, lush ‘thousand-year-old‘ pine trees, rocks and lots of umbrella toting tourist more or less sums my visit to the garden.
This place is probably worth a miss unless you are a nature lover or garden fanatic who does not mind dealing with the crowds of tourist surrounding you.
Perhaps it is debatable that it would be a nicer place to visit minus the rain and on a weekday but for a 40RMB entrance price, I was definitely expecting something more than a walk in the garden…
Outside the gardens lies a rather touristy bazaar filled with all sorts of traditional souvenirs you can imagine.
Some of the prices for souvenirs scream DAYLIGHT ROBBERY but it is worth a look if you can handle the jostle and waves of the crowd.
A stone throw away from the garden is the famous NanXiang restaurant.
The restaurant boasts one of the best ‘xiaolongbaos‘ in Shanghai which are steamed meat dumplings with a bit of soup in the inside.
It was evident how popular this three-floor restaurant was as it was so crowded on the first floor, the queue snakes all the way outside the restaurant itself with people holding on to boxes of steaming hot dumplings, savouring them in the rain.
While the first floor serves your basic xiaolongbaos in a takeaway box; the higher you climb, the more expensive and delicious your dumplings get.
Bonus points for better service too!
I did not try the dumplings on the 3rd floor which are considered to be ‘the best dumplings ever’ for both your taste buds and wallet; but I glanced at the menu they had which included shark-fin dumplings. Talk about excessive!
unicorn meat anyone?
We then proceeded to order two types of dumplings on the 2nd floor.
The smaller ones are 25RMB for 8 while the bigger ones go for 15RMB each.
The smaller ones are the ‘traditional’ ones while you need to drink the soup out of the jumbo ones first before you can start eating them.
I did not exactly enjoy the jumbo one as there is something about that soup that really turned me off but the smaller dumplings were beautiful. Just the right amount of thickness for the skin and a delicious broth awaited the moment I tore the skin open in my mouth.
It was certainly an experience ordering and paying at the cashier, only to be given some sort of gambling chips to exchange it for your dumplings too.
The NanXiang Restaurant can be found at: HuangPu District YuYuan Road 85
The YuYuan Gardens is at: Anren Jie; 安仁街 (yuyuan garden metro)