What To Expect
As a center of trade, commerce, and migration, Shanghainese cuisine has assimilated the cuisines of nearby regions including Ningbo, Suzhou, Wuxi, Hangzhou, Nanjing, and Shaoxing. As a result, it provides an excellent lens to experience and study Chinese food traditions.
We begin in the New Zhenning Lu Market. Our focus will be on tradition and history and how the average Chinese eats. The market itself is like a microcosm of China: We'll talk about Guangdong traders, Anhui salt merchants, Fujian stevedores, and Ningbo's missed opportunity to become eastern China's major port city. We'll look at how geography explains Shanghai's reputation as a "land of fish & rice," reflected in its produce and its preference for river seafood despite its name actually meaning "on the sea."
As we stroll through the market we'll discuss fundamental food concepts in China, such as the importance of sharing meals, the emphasis on freshness and vegetables, and the central role of texture in cooking. We'll also veer into the political and talk a bit about China's troubles with food scares and how Communism effected cuisine in the 20th century and today.
We'll also discuss the central role of pork in the Chinese diet and learn fun facts like how China is the only country in the world with a strategic pork reserve or how the Chinese character for 'home' is actually a pig with a roof over its head.
After about an hour in the market we'll move on to a local Shanghainese restaurant located in a colonial-era villa nearby that survived Shanghai's tumultuous history. With gorgeous Spanish tiles and cherry paneling, as well as the family's antique collection as a backdrop, we'll encounter one of the most interesting chefs working in Shanghai today, Tony Lu. Our docent, who's written about Lu and his impact on Chinese cuisine, will carefully curate our meal, choosing a selection of courses that illustrate some of the concepts we've discussed along the way. He'll also frame and contextualize the experience within current food trends in Shanghai and China generally.
Although the menu changes on each tour, some of the dishes we may try include Xunyu, a famous Shanghai smoked fish recipe, that has emerged as Lu's calling card; hongshao rou, a succulent and melting red-braised pork belly; and cold "drunken chicken," a specialty of nearby Shaoxing that uses the city's well-known rice wine as a marinade for a steamed free-range bird."
New Zhenning Lu Market
Guide services by local foodie or Chinese gastronomic expert
Tips and gratuities
Children below 12 years old are not permitted on this tour.
Minimum is 2 passengers per booking only. Private walking seminars are available for solo travelers.
Tour will be operated as a guaranteed Small Group Tour with a maximum of 6 guests.
All our card payments are protected by thawte to give you peace of mind.