Shanghai- with a population of more than 24 million, is not only China’s biggest city but also the nation’s street food epicentre. Though Shanghai offers an abundance of delicious street food, when it comes to finding them, it gets a little tricky. Shanghai street has such amazing delicacies that once you find them, you will realize this city has more to give! And also you can get amazing snacks in Shanghai easily in downtown Shanghai. Here we’ve got some awesome street food to offer you that you can try.
14 Local Street Food To Try out in Shanghai
1. Xiao Long Bao
In Shanghai, one can often see dumplings being served around. But when we actually try it out, we realize there are not just dumplings but soup dumplings. This dish is mainly focused on its filling which mainly includes pork or meat that is seasoned with spices along with Shaoxing wine and ginger that adds an aroma to the dish. Each dumpling is filled with soupy pork filling that just oozes out. Seemingly delicate, semi-transparent dumpling skins wrapped neatly with all the ingredients are seriously the cure to your hunger pangs.
2. Cong You Ban Mian
Also known as scallion oil pancakes, this dish is super awesome. When it comes to locally trying the dish, locals have to actually wait in a long queue to get it. These amazing pancakes will taste really good only in Shanghai. Through this dish, foodies can actually demonstrate their food obsession. It is prepared by filling ingredients in dough balls and minced with scallions (onions). It is pan-fried which gives the dish an edgy yet chewy texture. To give this a caramelized texture, it is baked in a 44-gallon drum charcoal to give it a smoky finish.
3. Liang Pi
Springy noodles seasoned with a tangy, spicy, savoury sauce, Liang Pi (cold skin noodles) is one of the most popular street foods in Shanghai. This dish is great for hot summery weather, though it is available all year round. Made with bean starch, chewy jelly noodles and fresh vegetables with sesame sauce, vinegar, chilli sauce, garlic, chilli oil and then sprinkled toasted peanuts with sesame oil for the perfect touch. Springy and elastic, Liang Pi has a very unique and appealing texture. This dish is a great appetizer and goes well with other small bites.
4. Dan Bing
Usually eaten for breakfast, this is a very simple dish that is considered to be one of the important breakfast meals which are either too bland or overly greasy. A quick dough made of water, flour, corn starch is whisked together briskly and spread into an oil pan. As the flour of the pancake turns light brown then it is sprinkled with coriander, spring onions, chilli flakes and pickled mustard (salted vegetables), then the egg pancake is rolled sliced into pieces and plopped onto a plate.
What people call Kebabs are called Chuan in China. It is one of the popular street foods which is really tasty and is a type of snack. Chuan is small pieces of meat, lamb or chicken roasted or grilled or sometimes, deep-fried. When we say Chuan, they are a perfect kebab that is loved by all. Small meat pieces are seasoned with spices like chilli, cumin seeds and paprika and brushed with sesame oil, then grilled over coal or skewers until they turn crunchy. The taste of this dish is spicy, tangy, and saucy.
6. Rou Jia Mo
Originally belonging to the Shanxi province in China, this street food will surely be a delight to your taste buds. It is a Chinese sandwich that is stuffed with fillings and is much healthier. This street food is mostly made with long-simmered pork, fragrant from a mix of cardamom, cloves, star anise rolled in a mo or bread. It can be made as per the choices of ingredients as you want, all you have to do is pick your meat- add veggies and let the bun or the bread with fillings get steamed. If eaten hot, this dish is something that will make you go crazy.
7. Ci Fan Gao
Often known to be a breakfast or a brunch-time snack, this dish is made of glutinous rice and is very simple and easy to make. It doesn’t have any fancy fillings, but when you taste it, you get to know why this delicacy is so unique. It is a rectangular block of compressed glutinous rice with various fillings like pork, veggies and salted eggs and fried until they turn brown. One can have it sweet with sugar or savoury with chopped salted mustard veg and a youtiao wrapped inside the rice ball.
8. Ma La Tang
A traditional Chinese soup that is not only loved by the locals but also the people who visit Shanghai. This dish is named after its key ingredient, mala sauce which is flavoured with a combination of Sichuan pepper and dried chilli pepper. Ma la tang originated in the region of Yangtze River near Sichuan. The only component that acts as the base here is the Mala sauce with cumin seeds, pepper, and other veggies. It is a humble version of hot soup where you can pick your own skewered vegetables and boil them together in a chicken or pork broth.
9. Sheng Jian
It is said to have originated in one of the cafes in Shanghai and then became a popular dish to consume. They’re nothing but short round baozi made of pork which is panfried and the speciality of Shanghai. It’s hard to resist- these succulent pork buns which are just like fried dumplings sizzled in oil until they turn golden brown and are encrusted with sesame seeds and scallion oil. The soft gelatin filling just automatically melts in your mouth giving you a great taste.
10. Mung Bean Pie
As the name suggests, it is quite a different type of dessert eaten in the regions of China. It is loved by all the local visitors and even foreign visitors. Shanghainese prefer their ancient cake which is not very sweet but a savoury dessert which is more like a snack. The main ingredient is the mung beans also called green beans which are used along with veggies and with sugar powder or sometimes, honey. In fact, Mung bean pie can detox your body, quench your thirst and keep your skin beautiful and healthy.
11. Portuguese egg tarts
A dish that when tasted, directly takes you to Lisbon, is a very popular dish in China. Everybody loves the dish for it is a perfect dessert that is also a must-try when in China. Calling for just a few ingredients, this dish is all about the technique. This custard tart recipe yields buttery, sweet tarts with aromatic custard that is baked until it turns brown. It is made up of flour, sweetened sugar, egg yolk, unsalted butter and kosher salt. There are some stores with their motto being “We have one of the best egg tarts in town” which will almost make you go there.
12. Nian Gao
Sticky rice cakes as one would call them or the Chinese New Year cakes, are the most popular Chinese dessert eaten in Shanghai and especially on its streets. They’re generally eaten as a breakfast item or as a snack. It is made with glutinous rice that is either grounded or pasted along with brown sugar that is wrapped in a slice of dough and deep-fried. Some even add sweet red beans in order to make it a healthier treat. It is usually eaten along with rosewater or as a pudding served along with red bean paste which goes really well.
13. Osmanthus Cake
A transparent dessert which is a must-try when you’re in Shanghai and also if you have a sweet tooth. It is a traditional pastry made with glutinous rice flour, honey, sweet-scented osmanthus and rock sugar. The main component of this transparent glutinous osmanthus jelly is the osmanthus flower and goji berries. It has a crystal clear, soft and waxy texture. The taste is often described to be sweet and is a very popular dish sold by sweet vendors.
14. Chinese Snowflake Cake
A very easy and quick dish to make, Chinese Snowflake actually describes truly what the Chinese cuisine has to offer when it comes to their dessert. Snowflake cakes taste a little bit sweet and sour and the most important thing is that it is a sweet and sour dessert that has to be eaten cold, straight out of the fridge. This dish is made of raspberries, milk, cream, potato starch, desiccated coconut powder and gelatin that can almost make your day and the dish. On a hot summer day, this would be the only dish that you got to try!