8 Must-Eat Street Food in Shanghai !
Try it and you will love it.
When I first arrived in China for the MBA DMB, I immediately wanted to try the Shanghainese Street-Food. Fresh spring rolls. Delicious Nems and Samosas. Shrimp Fritters… What a surprise it was for me to discover that all this exists only in our traditional Asian caterers, in France or elsewhere. These delights come mostly from South East Asia: Vietnam, Thailand, India…
However, the Chinese street-food that we can find in Shanghai with its specialties is just as delicious. It’s a culinary trip to every corner that you enjoy discovering every day.
I will list and introduce you to 8 different street-foods that can be found in this multicultural city with many cuisines influences. My goal is that you’re not lost when these meals come to you! This list includes simple, raw or more sophisticated foods that are all part of Chinese favorite snacks…. Or from the strangers.
The prices are all indicative and can vary depending on the location, the quality of the food and your art of negotiation.
8. Chòudòufu (臭豆腐) or « Stinky Tofu »
Sometimes, walking down the street, I can smell a rather unpleasant odor, a mixture of cheese and sewage that you can spot very quickly. Even stronger than the smell of the infamous durian fruit.
This is an ultra-popular 100-year-old Chinese dish. It is made from fermented tofu in a brine that is very smelly composed of fermented milk, vegetables, some meat, and bone.
Despite the unpleasant smell, I let myself try it with a friend once. We tested the fried version that was supposed to be easier to eat. Indeed, once it dips in its spicy sauce with garlic, the Stinky tofu loses its smell and then remains almost only its taste. Therefore, this is an experience to do once in China for the reckless. You’ll find it in the small, animated streets.
Vegan-friendly. 10-15 yuan one tray
7. Zòngzi (粽子), fresh fruits and marbled tea eggs
You will find some little shops all over Shanghai selling enough to support an urgent craving for hot and fast food.
- Zòngzi: It’s a triangle cooked sticky rice in a bamboo leaf. Very popular during the dragon-boat festival in China (端 午 节 duānwǔ jié) (5 yuan)
- Cháyè dàn (茶 葉 蛋): Marbled egg cooked and fragrant with tea and spices (2 yuan)
- The classic steam corn found throughout Asia (5-10 yuan)
- Sausages brochettes (often low taste & cheap) (5 yuan)
- Fresh cut fruits: Very yummy and practical with for example mango, apple, pear, dragon fruit, orange… Moreover, it comes with a wooden peak. (10-15 yuan)
6. Shanghai Guan Tang Bao (上 海 灌 湯 包)
This is a local specialty. It is a Baozi (stuffed brioché bread) containing a burning broth inside that was inserted by a hole on the top. It is advisable to drink the broth first with a straw and then eat the baozi. I recommend those with crab that are really very good. To test absolutely!
from 10 to 30 yuan/unit
5. Youtiao (油 条): Chinese doughnut stick
Often eaten early in the morning in a hurry before going to work, Youtiao is a fried doughnut in stick vegetable oil, whether you eat with congee, porridge or a hot drink.
Trying it is adopting it (do not become an addict as there is a lot of fat in it!)
Vegan-Friendly. 5-10 yuan
4. Hui Cuisine: Chuanr (串儿) lamb/sheep skewers and Rou Jia Mo (肉夹馍)
Let’s talk now about one of the most underestimated cuisine when we speak about Chinese food. The amazing Hui Cuisine in small restaurants from the Muslim community living originally in the West of China, as the Uighurs, but some of them lives in Shanghai. They propose a Chinese and Arabic fusion cuisine by using mainly as the meat of the sheep(mutton) and the lamb at excellent prices ! You can recognize these restaurants thanks to writings in Arabic written above and in the present “Halal” word on the door. Furthermore, these people are generally very smiling.
- Chuanr: Spicy lamb/sheep skewer succulence (10 yuan)
- Rou Jia Mo: A very good discovery is the Chinese version of the famous American hamburger, filled with lamb, spices, peppers… each restaurant has its own recipe and it becomes difficult to live without it when it has been tasted. (10 yuan)
You can also find sesame naans, nuts, rice dishes, lamb and take-away chicken.
You will find this street food all day in the heart of Shanghai on Zhejiang Middle Road and every Fridays at the Muslim market from 11 AM to 3PM on 1328 Changde Road.
3. Jianbing (煎 饼): Northern Chinese Crepe
A Chinese rolled crepe that you can eat mainly in the morning. You can choose your own filling. The traditional is made with bean paste, green onions, eggs, and crispy wonton leaves. When you taste one, you understand the fascination around this traditional recipe
Vegan-Friendly. 15 yuan for a basic – 25 for a special
2. Shāo Kǎo (烧 烤): Chinese Street Barbecue
These barbecues pop up out of nowhere at night and are difficult to find in the principal streets of the city. In the middle of dozens of different brochettes (meats, vegetables, fish, tofu, seafood, lotus, mushrooms, etc.), cooks are busy grilling skewers with special sauce and spices on long charcoal barbecues. Excellent price-quality ratio. Caution, this can be very spicy (Kunming/Sichuan spices).
Vegan-friendly. 20 yuan for several skewers. Ones with meat are more expensive
1. XiaoLongBao (小笼包)& Shengjianbao (生煎包) : Dumplings, the kings of street food
My all-time favorite. The absolute reference. One of the reasons that will make me come back to Shanghai. If there are dozens of different kinds of dumplings and Dim-Sum, the two specialties of the city, which are easily found everywhere, are in my opinion one of the best snacks in the world.
Xiaolongbao: Small steamed ravioli served hot in bamboo baskets and containing a juicy broth. The stuffing is generally composed of ground meat, ginger and soy sauce. A wonder that you will find both to take away and in the most expansive restaurants. Eat with Plum sauce or vinegar.
Usually 8 for 12 yuan
Shengjianbao: The fried version that we all love in our group of friends and that we can eat at any time. Fried in a large pan of 1 meter, covered with sesame and green onions. Drink the juice before eating. I won’t tell you any more, run and try it!
Usually 4 for 6 yuan
I hope that this guide will be useful for you. Enjoy your time in Shanghai!
The best places to Eat in Shanghai