The Foods You Need to Try in Shanghai

Chinese food is some of the most diverse and flavorful food in the world; however, it can be a bit intimidating to the average traveler. In cosmopolitan Shanghai, you can find food from all over China, along with international cuisines like sushi, burgers, and Korean BBQ. Restaurants and staff are more likely to speak a bit of English in Shanghai, so it’s the perfect place to get your feet wet when trying authentic Chinese cuisine. Try a traditional dumpling restaurant, peking duck, or fiery Sichuan food.

The Foods you need to try in Shanghai

Shanghai is the perfect place to try all of the amazingly diverse food China has to offer, but it also has some famous food of its own. Here are five famous Shanghai dishes to try on your next trip!

The 5 Foods You Need to Try:


#1: Xiaolongbao (Soup Dumplings)

Shanghai’s most famous local delicacy, xiaolongbao are tasty soup dumplings found in small restaurants all over the city. These tasty little bites are filled with a soupy broth and may also contain meat, vegetables and shrimp. To eat them, you can take a bite out of the top, suck the soup out and then eat the rest of the dumpling. It’s the only way to eat these things without getting soup all over yourself!

The most famous soup dumplings in all of Shanghai can be found right outside the Yu Gardens. The place is pretty easy to find because there’s always a line a mile long. Trust me, these dumplings are worth the wait!

fried soup dumplings

#2: Shenjianbao (Fried Soup Dumplings)

Everything is better fried right? Well that might be the case with these dumplings. Shenjianbao are very similar to soup dumplings except for their larger size and thicker skin. Fried soup dumplings are the perfect snack and can be found in many small restaurants throughout the city. These dumplings are a personal favorite of mine, and are a bit cheaper than xiaolongbao. Be sure to buy a bag while wandering around the city!


#3 Chao Mian (Stir fried noodles)

While chao mian (often called “chaomein” in American Chinese restaurants) can be found throughout China, be sure to grab a plate in Shanghai. For less than $1USD, you can have a heaping plate of noodles mixed with egg and vegetables. If you like spicy food, be sure to dish on a spoonful of lajiao peppers.

braised pork belly

#4 Hongshao Rou (Braised Pork Belly)

Found in many restaurants throughout China, hongshao rou is a must-try in Shanghai. Braised pork belly in a savory sauce, this dish can’t be missed. Be sure to look for it on your next trip!

crawfish China

#5 Crawfish

If you’re heading to Shanghai in the summer you won’t be able to miss the streetside crawfish. While you can find them in nice restaurants, they’re cheaper and better while sitting at a plastic table on the side of the road. Order a big plate and dig in with your hands. No one will judge!

Read Next: The 20 Foods You Need to Try in Beijing!



About Richelle

Expat, traveler, and spicy food lover, I've spent the last few years living in China and traveling around Asia. In my spare time I enjoy salsa dancing, exploring night markets and stuffing my face with street food.

21 comments on “The Foods You Need to Try in Shanghai

  1. That’s such an awesome idea, leading lunch tours. I bet you’ll make an awesome guide. I unfortunately didn’t try all these food when I was there but I was all over the dumplings and especially the fried ones. I got an order of 4 and then immediately got back in line for 4 more. So good. I was also shocked at the lack of spicy food there! I’m so accustomed to EVERYTHING being spicy in Sichuan that it shocks me when I go east and have non-spicy foods.

  2. mmmmm, looks yummy – you should warn us, not to read this post on an empty stomach ;)
    I was in Shanghai few years ago and I must admit I have not tried any of this, but did eat some completely dishes from street vendors…But I guess Shanghai has many to offer.

    • You can get everything in Shanghai, so it’s very easy to miss their specialties. They have food from all over China and it’s all amazing, especially the street food!

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  5. Shenjianbao are quite possibly my favourite food of all time – I’ve tried to find some authentic-tasting ones in NYC, but no luck yet! Maybe I just need to go back to China :)

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  8. Picture of #3 is cold noodle, fried noodle looks darker. Picture of #4 is bundled boneless pork, this is only popular in rural Shanghai.

    • Hey Derek, I actually took this photo and ate the food, so I can 100% assure you that the noodles were not cold. And the pork was from Wuzhen so I guess you could classify that as rural Shanghai.

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