Life in Shanghai

Nanxiang: Xiao Long Bao and Endless Greenery

WRITTEN BY Alicia Haripershad ・ 22 June, 2020

With the world slowly coming out of lockdown, things are looking up. However, it is still not possible to gallivant around as easily before. One of the reasons I had moved to Shanghai was the endless and easy travel opportunities. Given that I can’t just jump on a train or plane (for now), I decided to dig beneath the surface of Shanghai and become a tourist here.

Xiao long bao is a Shanghai delicacy. It is best described as a soup and meat-filled steamed bun. There are a variety of fillings but the most common one I have come across is minced pork. The ones I had tried in Shanghai had been dainty and delicious, served with vinegar for your dipping pleasure. I found that xiao long bao in Shanghai had originated from an area in Nanxiang. The restaurants there had the most beautiful pictures when I began to research and so I could not make my palate wait any longer.

A ride on line 11 of the metro (exit 2 of Nanxiang station) followed by a short bus ride and I had arrived in Nanxiang. Despite still being within the confines of Shanghai, I felt that I was rather far away. The old town of Nanxiang was well preserved despite being surrounded by newer apartment developments. There was a temple and narrow alleys lined with different vendors and bright looking snacks. There was also a river running through the town resulting in many bridges to cross over and a water town feel. There were ample shaded benches located on one side of the river which made for a great resting point as well as for some people watching.
Following a relaxing walkthrough of the town, I walked around 15 minutes to Guyi Garden. One of the older gardens in this part of Shanghai and absolutely breathtaking. I found myself surrounded by green, plants and trees and shrubbery. There were also lakes and ponds within the garden with water lilies. There were a few scattered pavilions throughout the garden, transporting you back in time with its ancient architecture feel. I thoroughly enjoyed walking through and resting on a bench to take it all in.

Last but definitely not least, it was time for lunch. I went to the restaurant attached to the garden and noted the long queue to be served. I would not be deterred! I ordered an array of xiao long bao and then stood in line to collect. The positive behind how busy it was was seeing fresh food coming in continuously, definitely adding to me excitement. When I finally collected my bao I took a seat outside in the courtyard area, got myself some vinegar and chopsticks and dug in. Not only was the xiao long bao pretty to see but the taste did not disappoint. I had opted to order what appeared to be the most popular and unique off of the menu, rainbow xiao long bao in contrast to their usual white. The colours actually corresponded to flavours, my favourite being the yellow one which tasted of egg yolk and had a minced pork and leek filling. The pink/reddish bao were cute but I could not seem to identify their flavour. But with a delectable shrimp filling, I guess it didn’t really matter.
If you are in search of a local Shanghai experience, I highly recommend this half-day trip to allow you to experience a different side to the skyscraper and highly modern part of the city.

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