Shanghai has a rich culinary culture with numerous delicious delicacies. It’s a colossal mistake visiting Shanghai without a list of tasty must-try street foods. Let’s make your trip full of memorable experiences by trying the following best street foods in Shanghai that we highly recommend. So, what to eat in Shanghai? Let’s check out our top rated 17+ best food to eat in Shanghai, popular food in Shanghai, best street food in Shanghai including famous food in Shanghai, must eat food in Shanghai, must eat in Shanghai, must try food in Shanghai, traditional food in Shanghai, best local food in Shanghai as follows!
After a citywide inspection of food hygiene and safety, street food stalls in Shanghai are increasingly scarce, but that doesn’t mean the culinary paradise here has disappeared. Although it is harder to find good street food than before, the result of your effort will certainly make you satisfied. Below are the top 18 street foods you cannot miss when visiting Shanghai.
Steamed Buns – Xiao Long Bao (# what to eat in shanghai)
One of the typical dishes of Shanghai is Xiao Long Bao, also known as ‘soup dumplings’. The reason for the name Xiao Long Bao is because these Chinese steamed buns are relatively small and much smaller than regular buns you may see. The flavor of the soup inside blended into the bun can awaken even the most demanding taste buds, in addition to the delicious and greasy pork filling served with a rich dipping sauce. Diners need to be patient to learn the proper technique for eating these dumplings. Then, you will see why this dish is even more tasty than all other types of buns, including pan-fried buns.
It is no coincidence that steamed bun is the first dish mentioned in the list of the most delicious dishes in Shanghai. It is considered one of the traditional and specialty dishes in China. Everyone in this country loves steamed bun. To satisfy the love for this type of bun, many versions of it have been invented. However, though there are different flavors, the most famous one is still Xiao Long Bao. With a delicate, eye-catching appearance and under the skillful hands of skilled cooks, the soup is hidden inside a thin, white flour skin.
From its origins, Xiao Long Bao quickly became a dish sought after by many Shanghainese because of its delicious taste and beautiful appearance. An interesting thing is that Xiao Long Bao needs to be eaten hot. So, if you are not used to eating this dish as a visitor, you will easily burn your mouth. However, this is a typical food in the everyday Shanghainese meals. People consider getting burned when eating Xiao Long Bao a pleasure and also a way to prove that the buns have been made correctly according to traditional recipes. Currently, Shanghai also organizes a number of tours to enjoy Xiao Long Bao with many different versions throughout the city.
Scallion Flatbread – Cong You Bing (# best street food in shanghai)
Cong You Bing is a green onion flatbread. Unlike Western pancakes, it does not use wheat flour but instead uses dough. Cong You Bing is flat and round, made from flour mixed with finely chopped fresh green onions and rolled by hand. You can easily taste this savory cake at most Shanghai night markets. The aroma of the flatbread just coming out of the oven is totally amazing.
Shanghai Fried Noodles – Cu Chao Mian (# must try food in shanghai)
Another local noodle favorite that one can find along the alleys at dusk. A small stall sells fried rice, noodles, and rice cakes, served on top of an egg. You will be surprised as they serve wontons with stir-fried dishes. Also, you can have your stir-fry done any way you like. Wontons are similar to those in Singapore. A plate of wontons served with fried noodles will be a great choice after a busy evening in Shanghai.
Cu Mian is a type of thick-cut noodle that is considered a gift from Shanghai to noodle lovers around the world. You can easily find this noodle dish at any restaurant in Shanghai, its popularity is not inferior to that of Xiao Long Bao. The noodles will be prepared, then stir-fried with beef, chicken, or pork (and sometimes shrimp). Finally, the chefs will add a few cabbage leaves and onions to increase the flavor and reduce the greasiness and fat from the meat.
Like many other dishes in Shanghai, soy sauce is an indispensable seasoning when making fried noodles here. As mentioned above, you can find this dish anywhere in Shanghai, however, if you want to taste the most delicious fried noodles, visit Ming Ming Can Ting – the number one restaurant for Shanghai’s stir-fried noodles.
Stinky Tofu – Chou Dou Fu (# must eat food in shanghai)
Stinky tofu is a dish that you’ve probably heard about when watching Chinese movies. This is a popular dish favored by many people. Not as bad as its name suggests, stinky tofu is a delicious dish and has a very special flavor. Don’t be scared or avoid this dish just because of its name, you will regret it because stinky tofu is one of the most delicious and famous street foods in Shanghai. Let your sense of smell guide you to the stalls selling this typical dish.
According to legend, stinky tofu was created in China hundreds of years ago, when a tofu seller opened his leftover containers and discovered they were fermented. This person mustered up the courage to try the stale tofu and found it very delicious. He then started selling these pieces of fermented tofu and the dish quickly became popular. The tofu is cut into rectangular cubes and marinated in sauce. You will realize that stinky tofu is not as bland or unpalatable as you once imagined.
It’s no exaggeration to say that stinky tofu is considered by locals to be the most delicious dish in the city. Tofu is fermented so the taste is quite unique, people who are not familiar with it will feel uncomfortable when smelling it. But strangely, this is the favorite snack of many Shanghainese. For foreign tourists, they cannot stand this dish because of its strong scent, making it difficult to taste. However, like durians, you won’t know how delicious this stinky tofu dish is unless you get past its smell and taste it.
To reduce the characteristic smell of stinky tofu, many people fry and dip tofu in soy sauce and chili sauce. The flavor of the tofu when fried together with the salty taste of soy sauce creates a wonderful dish. Trying a stinky tofu and being able to endure its smell may be a small challenge for you during the trip.
Sesame Balls – Jian Dui (# best food to eat in shanghai)
Red bean paste is used a lot in popular desserts in China, and sesame ball is also one of the desserts that uses this ingredient. The round dough balls are filled with sweet fillings, covered in sesames, and fried to a delicious crispy texture.
Tea Eggs – Cha Ye Dan (# traditional food in shanghai)
Even when Shanghai’s street food scene is showing signs of decline, tea eggs are still available everywhere, from convenience stores to newsstands. Chicken eggs are boiled in a mixture of green tea and soy sauce, and placed in a crock pot to keep warm. A very convenient dish to eat when going out.
Duck Blood Soup – Ya Xue Tang (# best food in shanghai)
Like many of the street foods mentioned here, they may not be strictly Shanghainese but will definitely become favorites of your taste buds. Similar to pig blood, solid blocks of duck blood are soft, firm, and have a certain crispness. Vermicelli is cooked with braised meat broth (usually duck bones) and spices. It’s not spicy but most places have little containers of chili oil and vinegar so you can add them to your food as much as you like. The noodles are soft and easy to chew and swallow. The soup is also sprinkled with a lot of coriander, green onions, and herbs.
Roasted Sweet Potato – Kao Di Gua (# best local food in shanghai)
When walking on the street and smelling roasted sweet potatoes, it is also a sign that winter has arrived in Shanghai. Roasted sweet potatoes are often sold on an old cart. These sweet potatoes are very smooth and flaky and can warm even the coldest days.
Egg Pancakes – Ji Dan Bing (# famous food in shanghai)
Often served as breakfast, these delicious egg pancakes are fried fresh to each order on a flat griddle. Start off with a thin millet flour mixture with an egg cracked on top. When the dough turns light yellow, the cook will spread a sweet bean paste and sprinkle coriander, green onions, chili, and mustard on top of the pancake. You can then choose to add a topping such as a piece of crispy fried tofu skin rolled into the pancake layer. The cake will then be folded neatly so you can easily eat and take it away.
Kebabs – Chuan (# must try food in shanghai)
Known as a popular dish in China, kebabs are often found at night on carts parked outside bars and clubs. The vendors certainly know their target customers because there’s no better night snack than fragrant grilled meat mixed with vegetables skewered on a grill right before your eyes.
Braised Eggplant – Hong Shao Qie Zi (# must eat in shanghai)
Eggplant is a favorite dish of many people around the world. When you set foot in China, you will absolutely love eggplant even more. Many tourists share that, even though they have only tasted braised eggplant once, they cannot forget the taste. They are willing to choose eggplant over all other vegetables. Among the techniques to prepare eggplant, braised eggplant is the dish selected by many tourists up to this point.
Braised eggplant must be stewed in Shao Xing wine, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger, sugar, chili, and sometimes even pork. Braised eggplant became a favorite dish in Shanghai at small eateries, later appearing at high-end restaurants and as a main dish in most restaurants. This dish is the perfect combination of salty, sweet, and full of flavor. It is especially suitable for vegetarian tourists.
The Special “Chicken” Dish from the Fields – Frog
In some countries eating frog meat is not common. The main reason is that the frog’s skin contains a fatal amount of toxins. If not processed and prepared carefully, it can be dangerous for people who consume it. However, when you know how to properly remove this toxin, frogs are a wonderfully delicious meat for lots of dishes.
Hidden under the rough and slightly slimy skin is meat that famous chefs rank above chicken. Frog meat is a popular ingredient used in many restaurants in Shanghai due to its rich preparation methods and ease of combining with many ingredients. Besides, the price for frog meat is also very cheap so it is suitable for a wide range of customers. Not only that, frog meat is also very easy to prepare. In almost every eatery in Shanghai, chefs can prepare a delicious dish from frog meat with many different ingredients.
The most favorite dish of the locals is frog pizza. A large pizza stacked with many layers of frog meat, a few potato slices, crispy rice cakes, chili sauce, and more. All create a wonderful, savory flavor. Try it once at San Gu Bullfrog – an eatery that prepares the most delightful frog dishes in Shanghai.
Make your trip refreshing by visiting seafood markets and rewarding yourself with meals filled with seafood. It would be a mistake if you came to Shanghai without visiting the Tongchuan Lu Seafood Market. This is where visitors can see with their own eyes many fresh seafood items caught by people at night. You can also bargain to get fresh and delicious food at affordable prices.
When visiting Tongchuan Lu Seafood Market, you have a variety of options for fresh seafood. You can purchase everything from oysters to sea cucumbers at totally reasonable prices, even at wholesale prices for restaurants if you’re good at negotiating. Everything will be easier when you go with a friend who speaks Shanghainese.
Are you afraid that you don’t know how to prepare seafood or don’t have enough ingredients to create a flavorful dish? Does not matter! Bring the seafood you purchase to any restaurant in Shanghai, and the chefs will quickly bring you a delicious dish in just a few minutes.
Classic Braised Pork – Hong Shao Rou
Have you tried and loved the classic braised pork dish Hong Shao Rou? Congratulations, you have something in common with Former President Mao and 90% of other tourists who have tried this soy-stewed pork dish. Hong Shao Rou is a staple dish eaten at dinner, and the number of Hong Shao Rou cooked every night in kitchens and restaurants in Shanghai is hard to reckon.
The most chosen cooking method of Hong Shao Rou is the signature dish from Jesse Restaurant. The restaurant’s secret is to use a soy ferment that is quite sweet and has the right ratio to highlight the taste of fat against the meat. The greasy taste that customers feel from the food at Jesse Restaurant does not come from meat but from soybeans, a very clear and distinct flavor. This is a unique recipe only available at Jesse Restaurant. Besides, if you pay close attention, you can see that the pork is diced instead of cut into large, thick pieces like the classic version of this dish.
Another popular preparation is cooking the pork with caramel and serving it in a brown sauce. Brown sauce is a mixture of Shao Xing sauce, light soybeans, and dark soy sauce, adding some sugar. Hong Shao Rou will have a more harmonious flavor when eaten with boiled eggs or boiled vegetables. There is a small warning for you, this dish will be addictive to anyone who has ever tasted it.
Hairy Crab – Mao Xie
Hairy crab is a nutritious and highly sought-after food in Shanghai. This crab only appears in fall and early winter, so it’s difficult to taste its exact version if you don’t come to Shanghai during the fall and winter seasons. Due to its popularity and appeal, there are many “fake” hairy crab dishes, made from other crab species to “trick” the taste buds of tourists and people who do not live in Shanghai.
Steamed hairy crab is considered the most famous and suitable way to prepare this crustacean. The crabs are tied with rope or string, placed in a bamboo griddle, and steamed for several hours. Add a little vinegar when steaming to bring out the perfect flavor. The special thing you need to know is that local people are quite picky when eating this crab. They have separate times to eat male and female crabs.
Hairy crabs are not only delicious but also provide a yin and yang cooling effect on the body. Female crab eggs are also a very good dish. If you find it difficult to remove the crab and enjoy it, don’t hesitate to ask a restaurant staff, you will receive dedicated assistance.
Dry Fried Green Beans – Gan Bian Si Ji Dou
When you’ve enjoyed so many delicious protein dishes in Shanghai, let your travel menu become more decadent with some vegetables and the beautiful green color of dried fried green beans.
Many tourists visiting Shanghai choose for themselves a plate of crispy and dry fried green beans. Green beans are stir-fried with red chili and ground pork and mixed with a little soy sauce and sesame oil to enhance the flavor. Many tourists even share that they cannot enjoy a meal without this green bean dish.
Eel Noodles – Shan Si Mian
Eel is a nutritious food and is consumed by many people around the world. Shanghai is no exception, it is famous for eel dishes that you can hardly find elsewhere.
The most special is ‘cold eel noodles’, a street food but present in classic restaurants. Enjoying eel noodles is also quite interesting as you will taste each ingredient separately without mixing it in one bowl. First, you will try the delicious, chewy, soft noodles with a little sesame sauce. After that, you will have eel with braised soybeans. Finally, have a taste of the rich, crispy eel pieces fried with bamboo shoots and green onions. Eel noodles not only attract tourists with their savor but also with the contrast of textures and temperatures, ranging from cold, hard noodles and warm, sticky eel sauce.
This post introduces the 17+ most delicious dishes in Shanghai you must try. With the above info, you have indeed chosen for yourself great, delicious dishes for your upcoming trip to Shanghai. Let’s enjoy Shanghai cuisine in your own way!
Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, from and to Shanghai you can refer to
- Shanghai By Night
- Best of Shanghai Half Day Tour
- Essential Shanghai 3 Day Private Tour
- Shanghai Museum Half Day Tour
- 2 Days Shanghai Private Tour
- Modern Shanghai Private Day Tour
- Shanghai City Walking Tour
- Traditional Shanghai Private Day Tour
- Private Shanghai Classic Full Day Bike Tour
- Shanghai Disneyland Admission Ticket
- Shanghai Disneyland Admission (90 days calendar)
- Huangpu River Cruise（Qingjiang Line）
- Yu Garden Admission Ticket in Shanghai
- Shanghai Tower 118th Floor Observation Deck Ticket
- Shanghai Bund Sightseeing Tunnel
- Shanghai Haichang Ocean Park Ticket
- Shanghai Pudong International Airport Transfers
- [World Highest Skywalk] Shanghai Jin Mao Tower 88th Floor Exclusive Skywalk Experience
- [Bund View·Klook Exclusive] Shanghai Magic Jungle Ticket
- Shanghai Chenshan Botanical Garden
- Shanghai EF PARK Power Formula Park
- Shanghai Disneyland Annual Pass
- Shanghai Disneyland (1 Day Admission/2 Day Admission)
- Oriental Pearl Tower
- CMHK | HK 7 Days unlimited data + 200 HK Local Mins + 1GB Mainland China and Macau data (HK Airport Pick Up)
- [Thailand Pick Up] Dtac GO INTER SIM Card Zone 1(Asia, Australia, USA, exclude Thailand)
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- [Unlimited Data] 4G Portable WiFi for Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau from Uroaming (HK Airport Pick Up)
- 4G WiFi (HK Airport Pick Up) for Hong Kong/Macau/China (No Speed Limited) from Song WiFi
Read more China guide here.