Shanghai steamed buns are the size of a fist, and are also known as baozi. They’re usually one of the cheapest and most efficient on-the-go breakfasts in the city. Stores usually sell a variety of fillings, from original pork flavor to vegetarian options with a combination of mushrooms, bok choy and tofu ( 包 cài bāo) usually denoted by the green fleck in the seam on top. Black sesame ( zhīma) paste is a sweet option popular with the locals. You need to leave your hotel to get the best steamed buns in the city, as they’re best experienced on the street. Why not stroll the leafy streets of the Former French Concession area to get the best buns?
Where to try it:
Yili Baozi Dianxin 伊利包子点心 (B L D, $, FFC)
Famous for their juicy pork-stuffed buns ( 包 ròubāo), reminiscent of xiaolongbao’s soupy interior encased by fluffy, soft white bread, Yili is located right around the corner from the mammoth Shanghai Library. Keep in mind the creamy egg custard buns (奶 包 naihuáng bāo) sell out first, so try to get there before 10am if you want a sweeter bao!
#11, 1 Gao’an Lu, near Huaihai Lu. 安 1弄11号侧 淮海 . Subway: Line 10 – Shanghai Library. Hours: 6am – 7pm. Menu: Chinese only. Baidu map.
Beyond Shanghai steamed buns, for more on the best places to drink, pick up a copy of Glutton Guide Shanghai. The book’s second edition was updated in August 2016, covering even more of the best places for an outdoor tipple.
If you’re done reading and are looking for a true foodie experience, join a walking food tour of Shanghai’s best neighborhoods, hidden culinary gems, dumplings, hotpot, noodles, and more. UnTour offers three Shanghai walks for curious foodies who want to learn even more about Shanghai’s steamed buns and the city’s best food.