People in China love to talk food as much as they love to eat.
Shanghai alone, there are a lot to talk about: the best street-side Shanghainese xiaolongbao or Xinjiang hand-pulled noodle shop; where to find the tastiest Cantonese dim sum or fieriest Sichuan dishes; the best American burger joint; the most exquisite new fine-dining establishment. The list goes on and on…
Shanghai cuisine offers a sweeter flavor than other well-known regional Chinese cuisines, favoring use of vinegar, ginger, sugar and soy to create brown sauces for braising meats, stir-frying, dunking dumplings and flavoring seafood.
Make sure to try the following local dishes:
Xiaolongbao (steamed pork dumplings, sometimes known as “soup dumplings“).
They’re made with thin dough wrapped around seasoned minced pork and a kind of gelatin which melts into a delicious juice (or “soup”) as the dumplings steam. Be careful—the soup is scalding hot for minutes after steaming. Let your xiaolongbao cool, dip in vinegar, and carefully nibble a hole in it to suck out the soup before finishing it off. It’s a good idea to support it with a spoon as you bring it to your mouth with chopsticks. Line up with the masses for Shanghai’s best-known xiaolongbao at Nanxiang Restaurant in Yu Gardens or try your luck at any number of small local eateries.
Locals love river crab (dazhaxie). The crabs are harvested during September and October. Boiled in large pots or cooked in a coating of flour or red sauce, river crabs make a tasty—and messy—meal.
Guotie (potstickers) are another Shanghai favorite. These fried dumplings contain a juicy pork filling, much like xiaolongbao. You can find guotie out on the street—look for vendors tending large, shallow frying pans—or in local restaurants. Greasy inside and out, some claim they’re the ultimate hangover food.
Shengjianbao are another soup-filled Shanghai treat. Stuffed like xiaolongbao with lightly spiced pork filling that sweats out a delicious juice during cooking, shengjianbao are fried in a large covered shallow pan (often alongside guotie). Browned to a crisp on the bottom, a thick mini-bun puffs out around the filling, resulting in a wonderful combination of textures. The perfect shengjianbao is crispy, soft, and slightly chewy, the pork inside floating in “soup.” Again, be careful not to burn your tongue.
Shanghai is also a great place for food all over China. You can get fiery Hunanese ribs at Dishuidong, Xinjiang lamb kebobs and flat breads at Afanti, filling Northern fare at Dongbeiren, Cantonese dim sum at Crystal Jade, Beijing Duck at Ya Wang, Hotpot at Hotpot King on Huaihai Lu, ect. For more details of restaurants, can check at “Eat in Shanghai”
For a break from Chinese food, the city is also home to excellent Thai, Japanese, French, German, Spanish, American, and Indian restaurants, among other international options.
Try reasonably priced Italian at Da Marco, Thai at Baan Thai, Spanish and Vietnamese at Le Garcon Chinoise or all-you-can-eat Teppanyaki at Tairyo. For a special night out, you can find some of the city’s best high-end dining (and views) along the Bund—splurge at M on the Bund, Laris, the Whampoa Club or Jean-Georges.