Two-part question on Seoul and Shanghai:

My husband will be spending about a week in each location, and I'm wondering:
1) For him: What would you put on your not-to-be-missed list? Dishes to try, restaurants to eat at, sights to see?
2) For me: What foodie souvenirs should I request he bring back in his suitcase?

Lindsay-Jean Hard


Lindsay-Jean H. November 2, 2016
So helpful, thanks all!
HABCooks November 1, 2016
What a great question! I'll stick to the food, since it's a great place to start :)
For Seoul:
Your husband should not miss all forms of Korean BBQ (each place usually specializes in a type of meat: pork belly, beef (han-u is high quality and worth the price), etc), the Gwangjang Market is great for street style food and other local dishes (do not miss the mung bean pancake or hotteok, a sweet pan-fried pancake). Oh and he should try and eat as much soup as possible- it will be cold and Korean soups and stews are the absolute best, especially with lots of side dishes (banchan).
Great [food] souvenirs from Seoul are all forms Korean red pepper: pastes, whole peppers, pepper flakes. If you are a tea drinker, there are whole sections of the supermarket full of different teas (barley, corn, green...the list goes on). If your husband has time, I'd suggest just walking through the supermarket and picking up a variety of products there. Always cheaper and likely better quality than in a tourist area.
For Shanghai:
As others have said on this thread, soup dumplings are a must (xiao long bao); Din Tai Fung is a reliable restaurant though not totally Shanghainese- it is actually Taiwanese in origin and has locations in the US. There are tons of street vendors and small dumpling shops that sell XLB. I'm also really partial to sheng jian bao, which are similar to XLB but have thicker dough and are panfried on the bottom (Yang's is a quality dumpling chain and so cheap!). He definitely needs to try Dan Bing, street food that's like a crepe filled with so much savory goodness and contrasting textures. I'd also suggest trying cuisines from other provinces since the food is so varied; Shanghainese food is worth seeking out as well, though it tends to be on the sweeter side. If your husband is going for work, the best bet is just to have co-workers show him the spots close to where he'll be (the city is HUGE!). He may need to convince people that's he's really interested in good, local food- I've found sometimes locals try to "Americanize" their recommendations.
As for souvenirs from Shanghai, I've found really good, fresh spices in a lot of places (both black & Sichuan peppercorns are a good bet). Similar to Seoul, you can find great tea in specialty tea stores or even at the grocery store. For non-food related items, you can find great silk scarves, but of course look out for good quality and err away from tourist stores. I also love a brand called Pinyin Press; it was started by a British ex-pat and she makes adorable screen printed shirts, towels, and other items with dumplings, lucky cats and other fun images. I don't think they have their own standalone store, but you can find places that sell their products on their website.

I hope that was helpful- I could go on and on and on about both of those amazing cities!
PHIL October 25, 2016
If he is going on business whoever he is meeting with will surely take him out to the good spots. I went to many but my supplier picked them so I don't remember the names. The food in Shanghai bears little resemblance to the Chinese food here. They asked me what General Tso's chicken was!
PHIL October 25, 2016
Soup dumplings in Shanghai. Also, It is hairy crab season there now through December I think. For sightseeing, the Bund had great architecture from pre-war Shanghai and the view and night is great.
When are you going?
Lindsay-Jean H. October 25, 2016
He'll be in Seoul the second week of November and Shanghai the week after that.
HalfPint October 24, 2016
In Shanghai, your husband should check out the Soup dumplings. J. Kenji Alt-Lopez did a great write up of his visit to Shanghai,

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