SNACK ON DUMPLINGS FIT FOR AN EMPEROR
- Taste a perfect dumpling
- Sit in a Qing Dynasty-period dining room
Northern China is famous for its jiaozi or dumplings. And competition is stiff among restaurants rolling dumplings with a springy—not doughy—skin. Some of the springiest meat and vegetable-filled pockets can be found at Daqinghua Dumpling Restaurant. It opened during the Qing Dynasty (the last imperial dynasty before the country became the Republic of China in 1912), when Manchurian bannermen (warriors) first cooked up these flavor-packed pillows. This explains why the dining room is adorned with ornate Qing-period façade and the servers dress in Manchurian costume. Dramatic history lessons aside, you’re here for the jiaozi—steamed (zhengjiao), boiled (shuijiao) or pan-fried (guotie)—with over 50 types of filling, ranging from the classic pork and chive to exotic black squid ink dumplings.
Daqinghua Dumpling Restaurant is five-minute cab ride from the hotel.
CHECK OUT THE CONTEMPORARY ART SCENE
- Discover modern work by Chinese artists
- Explore a well-preserved 20th century building
Those looking for cultural artifacts in Dalian (and China in general) may be surprised at a lack of depth. The Cultural Revolution—Mao Zedong’s purge between 1966 and 1976—had devastating effects on Chinese art preservation. However, there’s a burgeoning contemporary art scene and the Dalian Art Museum is at its forefront. Inside this 1902 Russo-German gothic red brick building with a Chinese tiled roof you’ll find pieces—from ceramics to large-scale paintings—by contemporary Chinese artists. Once the offices and dormitories of the Chinese Eastern Railway Company, the creaky wooden stairs and early 20th century interiors make for an interesting juxtaposition with the modern work adorning the galleries.
Take a 10-minute taxi ride to Shengli Street and walk from the Russian Quarter across the Japanese-built Shengli Bridge.
SIP COCKTAILS WITH A SUPER HERO
- Get an American burger or pizza fix
- Join locals unwinding with karaoke on the weekend
Throw on your crime-fighting cape and make your way over to Star Factory, a restaurant and bar plastered with Captain America costumes and superheroes that’s good kitschy fun. It’s an easy stroll across Renmin Road East from the Conrad Dalian for American classics (think: deep dish pizza and cheeseburgers). Pop by on a Friday or Saturday evening for a quick cocktail at the bar and the bonus entertainment of locals crooning Journey and Frank Sinatra hits on karaoke. Request the barista’s suanmeitang, a classic Chinese beverage of sweetened sour green plums (they make just 10 cups per day and always sell out).
Cross Renmin Road East and head towards the pier. The Star Factory is inside Shiwuku, a former warehouse converted into a space for cafes and restaurants.
MAKE THE TREK FOR A LOCAL DELICACY
- Seek out a food adventure
- Bite into a marine worm and live to tell the tale
Game for a food dare? Then head off on an adventure 40-minutes south of the city to Rifengyuan, a seafood spot famous for dumplings filled with haichang, also known as “fat innkeeper worm” or “sea penis.” It’s worth the trip. Briny and bursting with oceanic umami, the marine worm (actually a classification of species) is an important ingredient in the cuisine in Shandong and Korea just across the Yellow Sea. Locals line up for Rifengyuan’s version: a slightly raw center to underscore the unctuous texture. If your culinary courage flags, the braised clams with eggplant or a heaping plate of stir-fried fresh abalone or sea whelks won’t disappoint.
It’s a 40-minute cab ride south of downtown Dalian City to the Xiaoping Island area, a former post in the Ganjingzi District.