3 Shanghai dim sum spots Hong Kongers don't want you to know about
Dim sum is the perfect weekend brunching option: mouthwatering, bite-sized Chinese snacks eaten with pots and pots of Chinese tea make for a good hangover cure. While Crystal Jade is Shanghai’s fallback favorite for an authentic version of this Cantonese breakfast/lunch ritual, “yum cha” lovers should also try snatching a table at these lesser-known gems.
Most wallet-friendly Shanghai dim sum: Royal China
Don’t let the sleek hotel décor fool you, this place is a favorite locale for Hong Kongers based in Shanghai. Royal China also has outlets in London and Singapore, but its tables at this second-floor Shanghai location that peer over the Longemont’s eloquent hotel lobby are far more accessible on a weekend morning. Surprisingly, a dim sum meal here won’t break the bank, with a mostly no-frills menu that includes steamed beef balls, fried spring rolls, delicate steamed vegetarian dumplings and siu mai (steamed pork dumpling). A meal here usually works out to RMB 70 to 80 per person including tea -- delicious and wallet-friendly.
Don’t leave without trying: Lau sa bao, or sweetened custard bun with egg yolk. This dessert’s thick, sugary filling is golden -- and irresistible.
Royal China, The Longemont Hotel Shanghai, 1116 Yanan Xi Lu, near Panyu Lu 延安西路1116号, 近番禺路 +86 21 6115 9628
For refined Shanghai dim sum diners: SOAHC
It’s no secret that SOAHC is one of actress Lily Ho’s creations. The Chinese superstar dressed the two-story Xintiandi spot in a classy design inspired by French colonial aesthetics and ancient Chinese courtyard elements. Though SOAHC’s dinner menu is known for its up-market Huiyang cuisine, the restaurant’s RMB 98 per person dim sum brunch on weekends is distinctly Cantonese. It’s an elegant all-you-can-eat affair where you can order as many traditional Hong Kong dim sum favorites as you desire -- including pan-fried turnip cake, deep-fried spring rolls, steamed rice roll with BBQ pork and wonton noodles.
Don’t leave without trying: Unlike other Cantonese-style har gao (shrimp dumplings) in town that are made with minced filling, SOAHC’s crown-shaped crystal dumpling with shrimp and pork (RMB 38) is filled with a whole piece of succulent shrimp and is artfully presented.
SOAHC, No. 3, 123 Xing Ye Lu, Xintiandi near Huangpi Nan Lu 兴业路123弄新天地南里3号楼, 近黄陂南路, +86 21 6385 7777
For big Shanghai dim sum groups: Fu Lin Xuan
The restaurant is packed and neighboring tables chatter away in Cantonese. If only Fu Lin Xuan implemented carted dim sum too, then this bustling restaurant would hit that old Hong Kong feel. With 109 items on their dim sum menu -- including traditional dishes like shrimp cheng fen made with fresh, glistening rice noodle (RMB 38), and steamed black bean spare ribs (RMB 19) -- variety is this restaurant’s virtue and you should order lots to share between a big group of friends.
Don’t leave without trying: Char siu bao (RMB 16). This fluffy steamed bun -- filled with tender barbecue pork filling that’s slightly sweetened with a syrupy barbecue sauce -- should meet any Hong Konger’s standards.
Fu Lin Xuan, 2/F Hong Kong New World Plaza, 300 Huaihai Zhong Lu, near Madang Lu 淮海中路300号香港广场2楼, 近马当路, +86-21-6372 1777 or +86 21 6358 3699