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While the Canton region in the south of China and neighboring Hong Kong are the undisputed kingpins of dim sum — the Asian answer to brunch — Shanghai has a number of delicious options of its own. Visit these five restaurants to sample lots of small dishes while luxuriating over the large mid-morning meal:
1. Xin Rong Ji. There are 10 branches of this seafood-focused restaurant throughout China, all of which are known for their exceptional dim sum. The flagship location is at the Pei Mansion in Shanghai's Jing'an district, but it's the People's Square restaurant that gets our vote as one of the city's best places to try this Cantonese dining tradition.
2. Wei Jing Ge. Elegance is not normally ascribed to all-you-can-eat affairs, but the weekend dim sum at the intimate wood-and-stone restaurant in Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund is as refined as it is flavorsome. In addition to the classics, Wei Jing Ge serves treats like lobster-radish puffs, codfish dumplings and Guangxi sea duck egg tarts.
3. Royal China. With outlets both in Shanghai and London, Royal China has become internationally known for its dim sum. The décor may be a bit ostentatious — gold lamé accents the walls' nature motif — but the restaurant consistently draws a crowd for its roasted pork dishes, steamed shrimp dumplings and delicious fried radish cakes.
4. Crystal Jade. This is a veritable dim sum palace, serving up miniature Cantonese and Shanghainese delights to an ever-growing crowd of young professionals and families out for a special occasion. Try the double-boiled chicken soup and xiaolongbao (steamed soup dumplings), a Shanghai delicacy.
5. SOAHC Restaurant & Tea Garden. Hong Kong actress Lily Ho created this classy restaurant. The two-story Xintiandi spot, located in an elegantly restored shikumen house, features French colonial aesthetics and ancient Chinese courtyard elements. Meanwhile, the menu focuses on Huaiyang and spicy Sichuan cuisine, as well as the classic Canton dim sum. With an exhaustive menu of more than 100 dishes, there's a little something for everyone — though the succulent shrimp and pork dumplings are a must-try.