Shanghai Is Full of Surprises and the Best Chicken Soup in the World

The Bund in Shanghai, China.
The Bund in Shanghai, China.

Shanghai is big. Really big. It’s the kind of city where the population is measured in dozens of millions.  Travel writer Paul Shoul visited the city a few years ago and recalled some of this vast city’s highlights. Like many first time visitors to this sprawling metropolis, he used the services of a Shanghai tour company, which made things like getting a visa and navigating the choked streets much, much easier.

Shanghai World Financial Center

Having been to the top of Taipei 101 in Taiwan, I was eager to go even higher to see what China’s tallest building was like. It is the second tallest in the world. The journey to the top starts with a futuristic elevator ride.  It is like an amusement ride. The view from the observatory is spectacular and offers the only perspective from which you can really appreciate how big Shanghai really is.

The Bund

A walk along the Huangpu River and famous Bund is mandatory. The river is lined with old historic buildings of classic world architecture line for a mile. They are a monument to the international financial institutions that were drawn to Shanghai.There is a promenade where the city comes to stroll. It is one of the major tourist destinations and one of the few places you get a sense of open space.

The best chicken soup in the world

The food in Shanghai is spectacular. There are restaurants representing every type of cuisine in the world and every region of China. I had the pleasure of dining at the Chongquing, Cynet, Seagulls and Xinjishi restaurants.My favorite meal was at the Hua Ting Hotel & Towers, where I was staying. This was a 16-course dinner that started with plates of small shrimp and dried fish.

Then came the famous Shanghai hairy crab that was simply steamed with a delicious light sauce. Tender short ribs were next and then abalone presented in an ice tower.

The dumplings were perfect, even better than I had on the street, crusty on the bottom filled with spicy pork. The whole elaborate feast was crafted to lead up to the climax of a simple bowl of unadorned chicken soup made from an old hen. It was intensely flavorful, Zen simple and perfect. Even my Jewish mother would have admitted defeat. It was the best chicken soup in the world. I never imagined that this is it what I would find at the end of my childhood tunnel started so many years ago.