Enjoying delicious cuisine is a good way to understand more about the culture of the place you visit. Shanghai cuisine is always praised for its flavor and uniqueness. Shanghai is not only famous for dumplings, rib rice cakes, green onion noodles, chicken porridge, yellow crab shells,… but also has many other delectable dishes. If you haven’t tried these dishes, you haven’t truly experienced Shanghai. So, what to eat in Shanghai? Let’s check out our top rated 10+ must eat food in Shanghai, must try food in Shanghai, popular food in Shanghai, traditional food in Shanghai, best food to try in Shanghai as follows!
- What to eat in Shanghai? — 17+ most popular, must eat & best street food in Shanghai
- Top hotels in shanghai — 15+ best hotels in Shanghai
- What to eat in Suzhou? — 13+ must-eat, famous Suzhou street food & best food in Suzhou
- Must eat in Shenzhen — 11+ famous Shenzhen street food & best food in Shenzhen
- Must eat in Guangzhou — 13+ must eat food, famous & best street food in Guangzhou
Xiaolongbao 小笼包 (# must eat food in Shanghai)
No “Shanghai Must Eats” list would be complete with xiaolongbao. These delicately pinched wrapped steamed soup dumplings are savory, fragrant and just all around delicious. Usually served with a pork filling, you can find places that also serve xiaolongbao with crabmeat and crab roe inside (usually only available in the late autumn months when crabs are in season). One basket of a dozen of these bad boys will also only set you back RMB10-15.
Click here to see some of our favorite local spots in Shanghai for xiaolongbao.
Shengjianbao 生煎包 (#what to eat in shanghai)
Think xiaolongbao but heftier, doughier and less refined. Much like xiaolongbao, shengjianbao is filled with savory pork and piping hot soup, but unlike it’s delicate and dainty cousin, the skin is much thicker and it’s pan-fried. These fist-sized baos are commonly found street-side, tightly packed on a large, shallow pan covered with oil, cooked until the bottoms are crisped and browned.
For the less adventurous, you can grab yourself one or two shengjianbaos at one of the many Yang’s Fried Dumplings shops scattered throughout the city.
小杨生煎 | Yang’s Fried Dumplings
吴江路269号湟普汇2楼 (近泰兴路), Jīng chǎng sì Shanghai Shanghai, 200041 China
Congyoubing 葱油饼 (#Best food to try in Shanghai)
Rain or shine, you can see locals lined up to buy one, two or three pieces of congyoubing (scallion pancakes). These savory, flaky, buttery and scallion-sprinkled fried bings (pancake) are something of a guilty pleasure for us, but for locals it’s a pretty normal way to start their day.
You can find these greasy, yet great, fried flatbreads being sold at nearly any street-side vendor in the city in the mornings, but are more difficult to come by in the afternoons as they are considered breakfast food.
Congyoubanmian 葱油拌面 (# must try food in Shanghai)
Between congyoubing and congyoubanmian (scallion oil noodles), it’s obvious Shanghai knows how to use scallion right. A bowl of congyoubanmian might look plain and simple, but the flavors pack some punch and will make you salivate for more.
The fine hand-pulled noodles are dressed with scallion oil (made by frying actual shredded scallions) mixed with soy sauce, topped with the crispy fried scallion and sprinkled with fried and dried shrimp. As the noodles are tossed, each strand gets coated with the oil and soy sauce giving each bite some major flavor.
We like adding splashes of black vinegar to our noodles for extra local flavour.
Lion’s Head Meatball 狮子头
This has a bit of a funny name but regardless, it’s one of the better known Shanghai dishes. These giant pork meatballs are made with pork fat, cooked in a sand clay pot and served with shredded greens. They are meant to represent a lion, with the greens its shaggy mane – hence the name.
The meatballs are tender, juicy and represent a traditional, rustic and homey dish to most Shanghainese.
Hairy crab 大閘蟹
If you’re in Shanghai from late October to early December, you’re in luck because it’s hairy crab season. Renowned for their rich and abundant orange roe, hairy crabs are considered a delicacy in Asia. Normally steamed with fresh ginger, the crabs are cracked and dipped in gingery black vinegar making for a beyond tasty experience.
Though it may be hard to initially see the appeal of these crabs – they’re small, and require a lot of work to get through to the meat – it’s well worth the effort.
Xiaolongxia 小龙虾 (Hot and Spicy Crayfish)
Another crustacean that dominates the food scene in Shanghai for one season out of the year is xiaolongxia (crayfish). Though technically available year-round, the best time to eat these critters is June to September where they are at their fattest and most abundant. At local restaurants, they’re also sold by the pound (about 500 grams) – one pound is good for two people.
So this summer, grab a friend, roll up your sleeves and dive right into some xiaolongxia. Pairing them with a couple bottles of cold Tsingtao beers to help cut the spice never hurt either.
Hongshaorou 红烧肉 (Shanghai-Style Braised Pork Belly)
Bite-sized cubes of sweet and savory soy glazed fatty pork belly. Need we say more?
The savoury churros of China. Commonly found streetside, they are eaten as breakfast with congee or a bowl of steaming sweetened soymilk. The crispy and oily exterior is hides an airy interior and makes it a sinfully tasty way to begin your day.
Beware though, if you wait too long to eat it (more than 10 minutes), it will become cold, tough and kind of rubbery. These deep-fried dough sticks are best eaten freshly plucked from the fryer,
So these mooncakes didn’t originate in Shanghai, but with Suzhou just a 20-minute high speed train ride away, we can pretty well count these as a local specialty. Unlike the sweet, decorative mooncakes handed out during Mid-autumn Festival, these Suzhou style ones are eaten year round.
They come with either a sweet or savoury filling, with a crisp flaky pastry. The most popular kind is xianrouyuebing (鲜肉月饼), which has a savory pork, soy and ginger filling. They are usually baked fresh in the morning and sold in snack shop booths throughout the city.
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)
- 4G LTE WiFi (MNL Airport Pick Up) for Asia
- 4G Portable WiFi (Manila Delivery) for Asia
- [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 Shanghai guide here.