Lisa has lived in Shanghai since 1998, working as a journalist covering art and culture around Asia but with occasional side gigs working at rock club Mao Livehouse and teaching college journalism. She misses the open-water swimming of her native California but plunges into as many of Shanghai’s pools and murky lakes as she can.
Where I live:
In Xujiahui, on a very residential, very Shanghainese street near Hengshan Lu. Though I have seen some heartbreaking demolitions, most of the neighborhood has withstood a lot of change.
Best way to get around the city:
Is by bicycle. Weather allowing, or not — for the determined, Shanghai is a fantastically bikeable city. Its dense downtown and flat terrain is easily covered on two wheels. It is slow going, with the narrow streets fielding so many feuding kinds of vehicles, but it all makes for an ambling enjoyment of the view.
Don’t leave without having:
Xiaolongbao (“shaw’oh-long-bow”). The delicate soup dumplings are so hard to get right that good ones are tough to find anywhere else, but they are everywhere here, and in gluttonous varieties. My favorite is the danhuang, or egg-yolk xiaolongbao.
But the local favorite is really:
The stinky tofu, or chou doufu. Fermented bean curd is an acquired taste, and the friend who eased me into it said I had to give it three bites: the first reaction would be revulsion, the second curiosity, and finally, appreciation. The flavor is rarely as strong as the aroma, but once you are acclimated, the chou-er the better, and your street cred will be complete.
If I moved, I’d most miss:
That intractable Shanghainese pragmatism. People in this city have seen so much in their and recent generations’ lifetimes, they are as unflappable as they are proud of their city.