Yesterday we walked around Xintiandi, which is a 2 block shopping area converted from old shikumen homes. Shikumen are the equivalent of what tenements were in NYC, townhome type row housing for migrant workers. It’s been totally gutted and redone now so that only the facades look the same, but the interiors have been renovated and now host Westernized shops like Coffee Bean and other designer shops. Beautiful to walk around with all the open courtyards, but not really a cultural attraction. There is a shikumen museum where they restored and furnished what a shikumen would have looked like in 1930, but it was small and Mike and I were the only ones in the exhibit.
We decided to have lunch at Din Tai Fung, known for their soup dumplings, which we’ve eaten at a lot in LA. We were curious to see how they were different in China. It’s much fancier in Shanghai and the menu is much more extensive—and it’s also more expensive than LA. LA is pretty casual.
Verdict: Shanghai slightly better than LA! Loved having the unique additional menu options and one standout we got were the dessert dumplings. It was a red bean paste dumpling, but they inserted a whole chestnut in the middle. SO GOOD.