A long queue at a Shanghai food outlet is a sure sign that authentic fare is on offer. Shanghai locals — especially middle-aged and elderly Shanghainese — are among the few groups in China willing to spend more than half an hour waiting patiently for traditional goodies.
Today we bring you three shops and stalls with among the longest queues in Shanghai. The secret of their success? Well, all offer traditional Shanghai-style fare — with dimsum and Western pastry with a local twist dominating — in limited numbers and at affordable prices.
Some have histories stretching back decades, where cooks spend their careers perfecting maybe just four or five varieties, ensuring the flavor is consistent and can withstand the test of time and fads.
So let’s line up for a bite of these authentic goodies. You’ll have to be prepared to queue, but remember: good things come to those who wait.
There’s a long queue at Luyangcun Restaurant on Fengxian Road every day — at 7-9am and 2-4pm. Customers are waiting for their freshly steamed dumpling filled with incredibly finely minced Chinese cabbage and finely diced mushroom.
The filling has a spring-like green color and a delicate taste with natural sweetness. The mushroom adds not only aroma and a distinctive umami flavor but also gives the filling more texture. And if all that wasn’t enough, the skin is also extra smooth and fluffy.
Price: 2 yuan/one dumpling
Venue: Luyangcun Restaurant
Address: 282 Fengxian Rd
Spring onion cake
This small stall in the former French concession sells probably the most famous congyoubing — spring onion cake — in town. The stallholder, nicknamed “A Da,” makes only around 200 cakes a day, starting at 7am. A Da, known for his impressive memory, remembers regular customers’ preferences — from adding more onion to frying slightly longer to ensuring crispy texture and toasted aroma.
A Da insists on a traditional recipe and technique, pan-frying and then roasting to ensure the cake absorbs all the flavor and aroma. He keeps his cakes 1-centimeter thick so they can be crisp outside and slightly chewy inside.
Price: 4 yuan/piece
Venue: A Da Congyoubing
Address: No. 2, Lane 159, Maoming Rd S.
These treats were created by a shop inside a heritage hotel on the corner of Huanghe Road and Nanjing Road that opened in 1934 and are still sold there.
The name of the pastry comes from its shape, and it’s a local adaption of the classic French palmier pastry — which is traditionally made by alternating layers of dough and butter, rolled and folded over to build flaky layers, then coated with sugar. The Shanghai version is slightly bigger and tastes softer and fluffier, less sweet but with more buttery aromas.
Two flavors are available, the original and cheese — for those who prefer savory goodies. While the gate of the shop is on Huanghe Road, the queue can sometimes stretch to Nanjing Road.