Two of the best pastry shops
eclair — have inherently become an integral part of the food scene as well.
Here are two of Shanghai’s most well-known and ubiquitous pastry chains.
The official name of this household bakery is the Sino-British Ruby Foods Company, but most locals affectionately call it “hong baoshi” or Ruby.
Many people say that this shop was founded in the 1920s during Shanghai’s golden days, but the truth is that it was founded in 1986 by an overseas Chinese man named Guo Bingzhong who had returned to Shanghai after years in England.
Guo later invented a cake with a base made of light sponge and topped it off with cream and jam. The finished product looked as if it was a bright red jewel sitting atop a bed of snow. This cake was simply known as the “little cream cube” and it was the highlight of the day for many children as their parents would often promise them with “a bite of the cloud” if they were good.
Ruby’s Food was the go-to place for desserts until the 1990s when Shanghai was swarmed with a wave of Western patisseries.
Today, there are more than 70 shops scattered all around Shanghai and the bakery’s iconic cream cake is still its signature dessert.
This place was founded in the 1920s as a French-style cafe that was helmed by three local pastry chefs who had a capital of eight gold bars. Kaisiling is also featured in Shanghai’s literary maestro Eileen Chang’s Lust, Caution novel.
However, it was the takeaway counter that was, and still is, the most popular. Some say that this was primarily because of the poor service — state-run restaurants usually worry little about turning a profit so their staff are usually not concerned about maintaining service standards.
The cafe’s French pastry cream horn eclairs and chestnut gateaux are the bestsellers among the Shanghainese and are most often bought as after-dinner treats. Ask any dessert and pastry lover and he or she would likely tell you that the eclairs are dangerously addictive.
There are more than 50 Kaisiling outlets across the city today and they can be found in department stores, at the entrances to neighborhoods and even in the metro stations. Its most popular offering is the chestnut gateaux that is a less sweet but better tasting alternative to the ones sold at foreign bakeries in the city.
1) Dough that has been mixed with butter is kneaded to form multiple layers. Chefs say that the greater the number of layers, the crispier the pastry becomes. 2-3) The dough is then flattened and cut into slices that are as thick as a deck of cards before they are placed in the oven. Timing is crucial as it determines whether the pastry turns out soggy or crispy. 4) Priced at 20 yuan for a bag of five pieces at Deda, these snacks have been selling like hotcakes in recent times.
Ruby’s Foods’ little cream cube