Untour Shanghai is an ‘urban adventure tourism company’ specialising in culinary food tours of the best restaurants and holes in the wall the city has to offer. A friend and I recently joined a group taking part in the Dumpling Delights tour in Xujiahui.
After arriving at the meeting point by Uber (thanks to a voucher, though I heartily recommend travelling by chauffeured Mercedes Benz if you can, it’s definitely out of my price range for regular use), we set off into the pretty miserable Shanghai weather in search of dumplings, led by tour guide Carla, a Belgian resident of Shanghai for over 20 years.
From a hole in the wall on Gao’an lu we got our first dumplings of the day, some pretty average jiaozi potstickers. We didn’t hang around for long as the rain was coming down pretty heavily at this point and encouraged quick eating.
Though not a dumpling, this pancake and breakfast staple was a welcome, unexpected addition to the tour. Also bought from a hole in wall on Gao’an, the jianbing was perhaps my favourite thing I ate all day (which is saying something), perfectly crunchy and spiced well (though slightly stingily, perhaps worried for our tender tourist tongues).
3. Soup dumplings
Shanghai/Jiangsu-style wontons in soup, from a small restaurant at 641 Jianguo Xi lu. Not incredibly interesting, I’ve never personally been a huge fan of wontons, but perfectly good.
Not Shanghai’s best (this is a walking tour, so there was no detour to Jia Jia Tang Bao) but still damn good. Shanghai’s trademark dumplings remain the epitome of wrapping food in batter.
Traditional thick, slightly messy looking Beijing dumplings. Slightly disappointing after xiaolongbao (everything is) but still good.
6. Dim Sum
A wide variety of dim sum dumplings (not that I’d ever thought of the little stuffed packages one picks off the trolley as such before), including custard stuffed, pork stuffed, and durian stuffed (which largely went to waste, even my companion, a Hong Kong native was no fan of the stinky fruit) baked dumplings, as well as Cantonese wontons.
Though rain slightly spoiled our ability to stop and appreciate the beauty of Xujiahui and the former French Concession, the tour — which also took in a traditional market — was very interesting and enjoyable. We all left the final restaurant wheezing slightly, our stomachs fill to the brim.
Untour’s activities are largely aimed at / appropriate for tourists, and locals may have their own deep-set opinions about the city’s best dishes, but if you are interested in trying some more off the beaten track places (Untour’s Jamie Barys, formerly of Shanghai Talk, is a regular contributor to Culinary Backstreets — she knows her stuff) or have family or friends visiting I highly recommend it.
Dumpling Delights Tour
400 RMB (price includes all food and transportation during tour) // Wednesdays and Saturdays at 10:30am (book tickets online) // 2.5 – 3 hours // 2 km walking
[Image credit: James Griffiths for Shanghaiist]