(I realise I’ve not blogged for a month now which is shameful and totally not planned but life things happened. I actually came back from my Asian Adventure at the end of September, whoops… So that combined with a broken laptop for a month means I am crazily behind with blogging! I’m going to blog regularly again now so I hope you’ll still stick around to read all about my adventures!).
I’m almost ashamed to admit that whichever stunning new country or city I end up in, there are always three creature comforts I crave: spaghetti, hot chocolate and pastries. Honestly, any of my friends will tell you I’m a fiend for those things. I can’t not have them in my life! I know travelling is about discovering new foods but sometimes you just need to hit that spot with a trusty old favourite.
Whilst the search for spaghetti throughout my Asia trip was pretty hit and miss (mostly miss…) I found some really great bakeries. In Shanghai, I also discovered the utter joy of xiaolongbao. Let’s talk food:
Baker & Spice
This was probably my favourite bakery in Shanghai, although I sadly only went once. The branch I went to was in the French Concession. They have a massive choice of pastries, cakes and breads plus a great range of fresh juices and smoothies. Things even taste as good as they look! Always a deal clincher. The prices themselves were pretty reasonable too. A raspberry doughnut was 14CNY. This branch of Baker & Spice is also the perfect area for chilling with a book, catching up on some work or having a casual business meeting. If I didn’t have so much exploring to do, I would have sat in there for hours.
I’ve only been to Paris once (and very briefly) but I feel like Farine is the real deal. Again, in a slightly hipster setting, customers come for a little taste of France. It’s a cute boutique bakery with a beautiful selection of pastries and their hot chocolate is made with authentic melted chocolate. None of that powdery-watery rubbish! I also had one of their pain au chocolat which was good and flakey. The only slight negative would be space at Farina’s French Concession branch is very limited so be prepared to take your goodies away with you. I can imagine there’s a lot of elbow fighting at weekends.
In my first morning in Shanghai, I found myself pacing the pavement looking for a panini-type thing and a really cold drink. Shanghai was a steamy 36 degrees and boy was the sun and humidity out in full swing too. About a mile down the road from where I was staying, I found Wagas. I knew quickly this would became a favourite. They’ve got one of the best selections of fresh juices and smoothies I’ve seen plus a pretty wide selection of quick bites like panini, pasta and cake. All reasonably priced too. My favourite branch was down Nanjing Road – a perfect place for people watching plus within walking distance of the Bund 🙂
Similar to how I first discovered Wagas, I was pacing Shanghai’s streets in the midday sun and was gasping for a cold drink and something to eat when I found Lugo. It was the exterior of Lugo that actually caught my eye and the interior didn’t disappoint. I found out they’re big on coffee! They’ve decorated Lugo with vintage coffee machines plus masses of coffee beans in ‘tubes’ which looked cool. The food choices were quite limited (mostly waffles) but that’ll definitely hit the spot when you want a quick and filling snack during your exploring. I actually really loved their pink lemonade though! It was a little on the pricey side and I’m sure had a tonne of sugar in it but it was super refreshing.
Din Tai Fung
Saving the best for last. For years I’d heard about the legendary xiaolongbao but had never had one. I knew Shanghai would be the place to change this. The internet and my host in Shanghai recommended Din Tai Fung and oh boy was their food gold. I can’t lie, it is more on the pricey side (especially as the dining experience itself can leave a little to be desired but that’s China for you) but it really is worth it. Din Tai Fung has a pretty extensive Chinese menu specialises in dumplings so I just cut to the chase and ordered three types of xiaolongbao. Plus when you’re dining alone, you don’t have anyone to pick up the slack for you! You’ve got to have faith that you really are hungry enough to eat 12 dumplings by yourself. I have no shame.
Basically, xiaolongbao are dumplings filled with the most heavenly broth (you can pick from a variety of flavours). Honestly, I wasn’t sure if I would like them since I don’t like soup but I was so wrong. I think it’s the combinations of flavours; the broth, the ginger, the vinegar and soy sauce dip. Mmmm. They even give you a handy how-to eating guide to prevent burned mouths and messy clothes. It’s trickier than you’d think! And you can also watch the chefs making the xiaolongbao through a window in the restaurant! I’m glad I got to finally try xiaolongbao. It was worth the wait but now I have to figure out where to find them back home!
What’s the thing from home you most miss eating when travelling? Do you have a favourite place to eat in Shanghai? Are you a pastry fiend as well? Let me know in the comments 🙂