Chenghuang Temple is more famous for its food and delicacies, compared to the shopping (assorted selections of light products, specialties, and local handicraft). The restaurants and stalls here have enjoyed a long history of excellent reputation for their unique gastronomy that boggles the mind and ensnares the senses. But really, it’s just pure authentic Shanghainese food.
Ever heard of the Chinese steamed dumplings? Well, I have, and they say that the best dumplings are the ones found here at Chenghuang Temple. The Nanxiang Steamed Bun Restaurant is a nationwide brand name, found on the third floor of one of the many Chinese structures in Chenghuang Temple, that has survived time and weather. All three floors of this particular building serve steamed dumplings, and they are easy to spot from the long queue outside... the really, really long queue!
The Nanxiang Steamed Bun Restaurant specializes in steamed buns/dumplings, which are famous for their translucent cover and full filling of crab meat and luscious juice. They are in the shape of larger-sized Hershey’s Kisses and come in sixes in a Chinese bamboo bowl. These dumplings have to be relished in small mouthfuls or you will risk burning your tongue, and are so juicy, so succulent… need I say more? Just try it for yourself! Other than these dumplings, the restaurant also has other unique recipes, like the large steamed bun with crab ovary stuffing, shrimp balls, salty cashew nuts cake ,and various sets of light refreshments. The restaurant is so popular that in order to dine here, each individual has to order a minimum of RMB25 worth.
The Chenghuang Temple marketplace creates an ambiance of times past with its large wooden structures and seemingly hand-carved roofs. All the buildings surround a main square and a large pond filled with hundreds of white-and-orange Japanese carps, where crowds gather to feed the fish, take pictures, or simply to marvel at the delicate Chinese architecture. There is also a beautiful garden situated inside this large temple grounds. The Yuyuan Garden is worth visiting, with its serene and comforting setting beautifully illustrating its namesake, which means "peace and health" in Chinese.
When in Shanghai, you have to stroll along the shopping streets, visit the crowded markets, savor the authentic Shanghainese cuisines, and haggle! These are essential parts of Shanghai that should not be missed, so get fit, pump up your appetites, brush up on your bargaining skills, and Shanghai is all yours!
January 7, 2006
From journal Today's Shanghai