Chinese culinary culture is famous for its hawker and street food, and Shanghai is no exception. The world’s most populous metropolis has a number of hawker hubs that are a must visit for foody tourists, but you also need to know what to eat.
We’ve found 10 of our favourite dishes found on the streets in Shanghai, and you could do a lot worse than start here.
Crab Shell Pie
Hairy crabs are a must try—they’re much more delicious than they sound—but sadly aren’t available all year round. However, the little pies that take their name from the outer carapace of the crustacean—xi ke huang—are. The pies are baked in a clay oven until golden brown and come in both savoury and sweet varieties. When you see the rows of crispy golden ovals lying next to each other, the name starts to make for sense.
Sheng Jian Bao (Pan-Fried Buns)
Pork buns are irresistible at the best of times, but when they’re pan-fried golden brown and served piping hot, then it’s physically impossible not to buy too many and eat them all. Totally worth the inevitable blisters on your tongue from the hot soup inside.
Tofu Flower Soup
Another unappetising-sounding-but-delicious-in-reality snack, tofu flower soup is made by curdling soy milk. This silky smooth tofu soup contains the subtle flavor of soybeans beneath a colourful mixed dressing of dried shrimps, pickled radish, seaweed, spring onion, soy sauce and chilli oil.
Chinese-Style Fried Chicken
A little different from the fried chicken you’re used to, but just as delicious. Think chicken wok-fried with chopped dried chilies, spring onions, ginger and garlic and then sprinkled with sesame and five-spice powder. It’s even better than it sounds.
Xiao Long Bao (Soup Dumpling)
Super tasty and super cheap. You can’t get much more Shanghai than these signature soup dumplings.
Spicy Duck Neck
They don’t look great—kind of lick weird sausages—but they’re full of tender, lean meat. Pair with beer and a park bench with a view and you’ve got the ideal snack.
Ci Fan Gao (Deep-Fried Rice Cake)
Sometimes, simple is best. This salted glutinous rice cake doesn’t have fancy stuffing or pretty garnish, but one single sheet will instantly hit the spot.
Or pan fried dumplings as they’re known here. Look, you’ve probably had them dozens of times in your local China town on a boozy night out. But you haven’t had them in Shanghai. So do it.
Rou Jia Mo (Shaanxi-style sandwich)
Basically a big bao, you can pick your meat—can’t go past the barbecue pork—some veggies and a heap of chilli sauce, all served in a big, floury steamed bun. Delicious.
Tang Gao (Deep-Fried Doughnut)
Got to have some sweets! Made from glutinous rice flour and coated with white sugar, these doughnuts are deliciously greasy and probably bad for you and your arteries. But who cares when they taste this good.