Food Lover's Guide to Shanghai

Thanks to its cosmopolitan nature, Shanghai has developed a cuisine that melds the best flavors and techniques from regions throughout China, while using fresh, local ingredients such as freshwater fish, shrimp and crab. Since Shanghai's food is often sweeter than that in other parts of China, it also more closely resembles what travelers might find in the US. Here are a few foods and activities you won't want to miss.

Must-Try Dishes
Seafood lovers in Shanghai have plenty to choose from, but one of the most famous is steamed crab, or da zha xie, made from freshwater river crab caught in the area. Another local favorite is the soup bun (xiaolongbao)—a steamed dumpling filled with a variety of savory ingredients and fragrant soup that bursts in your mouth when you bite into it. The dumpling action doesn't stop there; you can snack on fried pork dumplings, mini wontons served in soup or pan-fried dumplings.

In addition, Shanghai's contribution to China's wealth of noodle dishes comes as a thick-cut noodle stir-fried with meat, cabbage and onions in a slurp-worthy soy sauce-flavored broth.

Must-Do Experiences
  • Sample lots of different foods on a street food walking tour, either by day or night. In Shanghai, some of the best street food dishes, like soup dumplings, green onion pancakes and hand-pulled noodles, are served at breakfast, while night owls won’t go hungry either, as vendors cooking up seafood, barbecued meats, grilled vegetables and wontons come out at after dark.
  • Learn to make the city's beloved dumplings or buns and add new recipes to your repertoire in a hands-on cooking class.
  • Master the use of a variety of Shanghaiese ingredients with a tour of a local wet market.
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