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Shanghai Cuisine and Food

Shanghai is China’s largest port city which means it has experienced its fair share of inbound diet custom influences throughout the centuries.

Shanghai folks like to use sugar as a main seasoning and are partial to sauces. Shanghai dishes usually look red and shiny, for they are often pickled in wine and their cooking methods include baking, stewing, teaming, deep-frying, etc.

The food listed below is famous in Shanghai, even in China. You can book our private Shanghai Tours to taste these delicious dishes.

Famous Shanghai Local Food and Cuisine

1. Crawfish ( Xiaolongxia )

Usually, Crawfishes come into season during the summer, approximately from the late May to April. In Shanghai, the spicy crawfish are a popular dish among local people and travelers in Shanghai. Travelers often order a plate of crawfishes and a bottle of beer in a famous restaurant.

The crawfishes are catching from Taihu Lake, a big lake near Wuxi City. When cooking it, its whole body is poured into oil-boiling pan, which insures its meet is well-preserved and delicious. When you eat it, you had to open its hard shell. The crawfish are unsalted and spicy.


2. Steamed Crab ( Dazhaxie )

For those visitors who love to travel Shanghai in autumn, steamed crab is a good choice for you to taste Shanghai local special dishes. The Crabs come to season during the 9th and 10th months of the lunar calendar. According to the words of locals – “extra ingredients corrupt the flavor”, we know that this dish is dipped with a sauce of rice vinegar, sugar and ginger.

Before it is placed in bamboo containers, people may tie it with ropes or strings, because it is alive. Steamed crab is the simplest, traditional and ritualized way of eating hairy crab. There are eight different tools used to deconstruct the Crab, each designed for specific parts. It is a mark of skill, and in fact a show of status, to be able to eat crab without cracking the exoskeleton, so that you can reassemble the crab with its shell. However, for the uninitiated tourist it can turn into a rather protracted and messy affair.

Steamed Crab

3. Dongpo Meat

Why it is named Dongpo Meat? Dongpo is a famous poet in ancient poet. Because it is bright in color, rich but not greasy.

Dongpo Meat is a Hangzhou dish which is made by pan-frying and then red cooking pork belly. The pork is cut to around two inches square in dimensions, consisting of half fat and half lean meat.

Dongpo Meat

4. Nanxiang Xiaolongbao (small meat stuffed bun)

Xiaolongbao, literally "little basket bun", originated in the town of Nanxiang in the suburbs of Shanghai. The buns are traditionally steamed in bamboo baskets, hence the name. The buns are made of flour and look like other stuffed buns, but people cover dough on its appearance to make its skin more smooth and translucent. Usually, inside the buns are filled with broth and meat.

There are two famous Xiaolongbao shops in Shanghai. One is Nanxiang Mantou, located in the Yu Garden Shopping Street, and the other is Guqiyuan Snacks, near the Yanan crossing of Tibet Road. It is said that the more you eat, the more you want.

Nanxiang Xiaolongbao

5. Soup Bun

Soup bun is a kind of buns, bigger than Xiaolongbao and contains soup. In Shanghai, the bun tends to have a chrysanthemum-like shape, thinner dough skins and lots of “stuffing”, which comes in a wide range of choices. They offer a first-class flavor no matter which type you choose.

The buns are steamed in the bamboo containers. The shape and tempting fragrance will really stimulate your appetite. Specially recommend to taste the soup, delicious is not enough used to describe it.

1. To avoid your tongue being scalded by the inside hot soup, you should not eat in a hurry, but wait until the soup cools down.
2. Jiaji Bun Shop, located on Fengyang Road, specializes in soup buns. Many super stars are frequent visitors!

Soup Bun

6. Tangyuan

It is known to all that Tangyuan means “Tuan Tuan Yuan Yuan” and is eaten during China’s Lantern festival. It is also a traditional Shanghai local food, which you can eat at ordinary restaurant.

Tangyuan is small balls made from glutinous rice flour. They can either be stuffed with sweet or savory fillings, or unstuffed. The flour is mixed with water until it forms dough. Then the dough is rolled into small balls and cooked and served in boiling water. When it is served to you, you have to care its scalding filling.


7. Yangchun Noodles ( Yangchunmian )

Noodles mean longevity in Chinese culture, which makes them very popular to travelers home and abroad.

Yangchun Noodles are a delicious and famous food in Shanghai, and have a very long history. Yangchun noodles are also called clear soup noodles ( qingtangmian), as they are thin noodles in a clear soup. The major ingredient is flour. When they are cooking in pan, scented scallion oil is added to the noodles to make them smooth and tasty. They are highly nutritious, containing protein and various vitamins. To taste Yangchun Noodles is recommended during your Shanghai tour.

Recommended Restaurant:
Shanghai Yangchun White Snow Noodles Restaurant (上海阳春白雪面馆): 80 Yuqing Road, Xuhui District (徐汇区余庆路80号)

Yangchun Noodles

8. Pepper Duck ( Qingjiaoya )

Pepper duck is a famous dish in Shanghai. The dish calls for half or a whole marinated duck lightly fried and served with plum sauce and steamed bread. With a bright red color, crispy skin, and tender meat, Shanghai pepper duck will reward you with a pleasant experience. Autumn is the best season to enjoy this dish.

Pepper Duck

9. Chicken and Duck Blood Soup ( Jiyaxuetang )

This dish literally means the soup made of solidified blood from Chicken and Duck. This soup is said to be very healthy and good for you.

In fact, the blood resembles dark red tofu and has very taste. The broth used is a very light or slightly salty and clear chicken broth with some spring onion added for a nice flavor. All in all, this traditional Shanghai snack is quite tasty.

Moreover, you can taste this soup in any place. It is also available in places like the Old City God's Temple (Laocheng Huangmiao) and Yuyuan Garden area.

Chicken and Duck Blood Soup

10. Shark's Fin ( Yvchi )

It is known as the “treasure of the sea” and its high nutrition. The material is chosen from the well-selected shark which lives in the deep sea and soaks nutrition from the ocean. After it is boiled, steamed and poured in delicious soup, all nutrition arises in the soup. It tastes fresh, rich, and savory.

Shark's Fin

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