Shanghai has previously been described as the ‘Paris of the East’ and is known as a cultural and international metropolis, filled with excitement and bustling energy, which is why it will always remain one of my favourite cities. Guang Ming Cun is located in the popular area of Huaihai Road; one of the prettiest and quirkiest parts of Shanghai. One minute you’re walking past high-end retailers and fancy boutiques and the next you stumble across old style houses and tiny side streets – a glorious combination of old and new.
Outside the restaurant, the queue of locals huddled underneath umbrellas was definitely a good sign. On closer inspection, I could see that they were in fact queuing for the meat pastries on the ground floor but several people were also headed upstairs which is where the restaurant part is located.
Once upstairs it’s a battle of the hungriest. There is no reservation or queuing system, it’s simply a case of awkwardly hovering around tables and waiting for people to finish. I was able to get a table after around 10 minutes which wasn’t too bad considering it was 1pm on a Saturday. There is a chef at the back of the restaurant hand-crafting huge batches of wontons reiterating the fact that you are in very capable hands.
As for the menu, it’s all in Chinese so if you’re not familiar with the language I would suggest learning a few names of dishes which you can relay to the staff. Or if you get really stuck you could just point to what the person next to you is having (we’ve all had those moments in China…)
I started with the wonton soup (jīzhī húntún). The locals seemed to be ordering bowls of these by the dozen and I didn’t want to feel left out. The broth is not overly strong in flavour therefore crediting the wonton itself. The wontons were deliciously delicate and filled with seasoned minced pork to give that ultimate feeling of comfort in a bowl. Strips of seaweed and egg were also added to give a hint of flavour and texture. A perfect hearty dish served piping hot as the temperature starts to drop in the city.
Next up were the xiǎolóngbāo, one of my absolute favourites. Eight perfectly formed dumplings arrived brimming with a delicious soup inside. As all xiǎolóngbāo lovers will know, there is only one way to eat this special dish. Take a very small bite from the bottom, slurp out the thick, sweet broth and then dip it in vinegar before eating it whole. The science behind this will never cease to amaze me.
A local restaurant equals local prices – the wonton soup came to a mere 11 RMB and the xiǎolóngbāo was 22 RMB making this one of the cheapest lunches I’ve had in a while. Authentic food, a lively atmosphere and full of satisfied locals, Guang Ming Cun is just the ticket.
Guang Ming Cun
588 Huaihai Middle Road,