There’s one food every single one of our visitors to Shanghai goes home dreaming about – xiaolongbao – those addictive little soup-filled Shanghai dumplings. I could eat them all day, slurping one after another of the delicious morsels straight from a hot steamer basket.
Late last year I was approached with an intriguing offer from the people at Rama Tours – famous for their unique and innovative iPhone history tour apps – to write an iPhone app for foodies visiting Shanghai, giving them an insider’s knowledge about specific local foods. I immediately knew that it should be a xiaolongbao app, my own homage to Shanghai’s most famous snack food.
The Rama people agreed, having apparently heard that after eating my body weight in xiaolongbao I could now be considered something of an expert on them, and just the right person to spread the word about the finest places in the city to get your fill of xiaolongbao!
For the tour I really wanted to give foodie visitors to Shanghai the inside scoop on where to go for not only the best xiaolongbao, but also the most innovative, the most historically authentic, and the most fun xiaolongbao, along with insider tips, maps, and Chinese text to make ordering a breeze for non-Chinese speakers.
The Shanghai Xiaolongbao iPhone app launched a few days ago along with the worldwide launch of Rama Food – iPhone apps from 22 cities around the world, written by local experts, and designed for traveling foodies like me and you who want to know the best local places to find great food when we travel. I can’t wait to get to Chengdu later this year and try food blogger Jenny Gao of Jing Theory’s Chengdu Street Snacks, or New Yorker James Boo‘s take on NYC barbecue, and Nausheen Noor‘s Snack Food Tour of Dubai.
To see the Shanghai Xiaolongbao Tour, and all the other worldwide foodie tours on offer, you can visit the Rama iTunes page, download the free Rama App, then browse in-app for individual food tours. The Rama app is free, but individual tours are priced separately from $0.99. For a limited time in celebration of the Rama Food launch, you can try the food tours “Istanbul in Berlin” and “Dubai: Ethnic Eats” for free, should you be traveling to either of those spots!
As you can imagine, researching this app was a lot of fun! Take my visit to modern xiaolongbao eatery Simon’s Kitchen for example, where ex-Din Tai Fung chefs have set up their own xiaolongbao restaurant and added very individual features like create-your-own xiaolongbao, choosing from different flavoured and coloured dumpling wrappers and a choice of innovative fillings. I was of course, forced to eat one of every possible combination, you know, for research purposes.
A great feature of Rama’s tours is that you have the ability to view the tour information and all the maps even when offline, so you won’t incur costly roaming charges when travelling.
I had a load of fun writing the Shanghai Xiaolongbao app, and I hope you’ll share it with any traveling foodies you know who might be swinging by Shanghai anytime soon!
Some frequently asked questions about the tours:
Is Rama available for platforms other than iPhone, like Android?
Yes! The app is not “native” to iPad, yet, but will be soon.
Does Rama work on an iPod Touch?
You bet! Because Rama accommodates offline maps, it’s one of the few apps you can use when you travel, without a 3G or wifi connection.
How do I find your tour on the app?
When you’ve downloaded the (free) Rama app to your phone, just search by my name, the title, or the city and— voila!
Can I use your tour when I travel? I won’t have access to a wifi or 3G connection on my phone, since I live overseas and don’t want to pay expensive data roaming fees.
Yes! Rama offers tour saving. Once you download a tour you will be able to use it without an Internet connection.