The most delicious and wallet-friendly street food in Shanghai. Some of them are Shanghai-native eats, others are popular snacks from around the country.
16. Ma qiu (sesame ball, 麻球)
Why we love it: If you’re a fan of red bean and sesame, ma qiu is the perfect treat for you. These glutinous dough balls are filled with sweet red bean paste and coated with white sesame. They are then deep-fried until golden brown.
17. Guo tie (pot stickers, 锅贴)
Why we love it: Pot stickers were born when a fried bun and a dumpling fell in love. From the dumpling, it inherited its elegant appearance; and from the fried bun, it inherited a sizzling personality. Need we say more.
18. Tea eggs (茶叶蛋)
Why we love it: They might only be eggs hard boiled in green tea and soy sauce, but tea eggs are Shanghai’s go-to snack — they can be found in every convenient store, breakfast stand and small-scale Chinese eateries.
19. Qiang bing (puffy pancake, 羌饼)
Why we love it: The older generations in Shanghai grew up eating qiangbing at the breakfast table. Made of lightly salted dough and chopped spring onions, this large round bing is often cooked in a flat pan until it’s puffy and golden brown.
20. Shuang dang or dan dang soup (双档或单档)
Why we love it: Shuang dang and dan dang soup used to be the stars of Shanghai’s nighttime street food scene, but they are now available mostly in small restaurants. A bowl of dan dang soup includes a pork-stuffed tofu-skin wrap and a diced-shaped fried tofu nub also filled with minced pork, and sometimes a handful of glass noodles. When served with double portion of wraps and tofu pieces, the snack becomes shuang dang.
21. Kebabs (烤串)
Why we love it: Few things taste better at four in the morning than a few grilled kebabs. Our favorite is of course the yang rou chuan (羊肉串) — lamb kebabs. Perfectly seasoned with cumin and paprika, they make for a perfect ending to any night out.
22. Taiwan shouzhua bing (Taiwanese pancake, 台湾手抓饼)
Why we love it: We aren’t sure if shouzhua bing really originated from Taiwan. What we do know is that this greasy, yet incredible tasting bing has captured the hearts and stomachs of Shanghai population.
23. Rou jia mo (Shaanxi-style sandwich, 肉夹馍)
Why we love it: Pick your meat, and then add the veggies you want — we love the chicken with cilantro, lettuce, and plenty of chili sauce.
The buns are steamed, split open, then stuffed with the most tasty meat and veggie mix.
24. Shaxian steamed dumplings (沙县蒸饺)
Why we love it: In the past decade or so, this legendary Fujianese snack has conquered most of the first and second-tier cities in China and the metropolitan area of Shanghai. These flower-petal-shaped steamed pork dumplings taste gorgeous with just a few drops of Fujianese chili sauce.
25. Dan bing (egg pancake, 蛋饼)
Why we love it: For most Westerners, Chinese breakfast is either too bland or overly greasy. Dan bing, aka jian bing, boasts healthy ingredients and flavorsome sauce and, most importantly, it keeps your tummy content all morning.
26. Liang pi (cold jelly noodles, 凉皮)
Why we love it: Having grown in popularity across the Middle Kingdom, Shaanxi liang pi has established itself as the perfect summer lunch or a snack. Dress the chunky, chewy jelly noodles and fresh vegetables with sesame sauce, vinegar, and chili oil, and then sprinkle some toasted peanuts and sesame for the final touch. Voila.
27. Malatang (numb, spicy soup, 麻辣烫)
Why we love it: After this popular street snack from Sichuan adapted itself to satisfy Shanghainese taste buds, it quickly became a local favorite. A humble version of hotpot, you pick your own skewered vegetables and meat from the shelf, and get staff to boil them together in chicken or pork broth.
28. Xiao long xia (crawfish, 小龙虾)
Why we love it: Shanghailanders go crazy for crawfish in summer. The 35 C weather in Shanghai is just not bearable without these weekend buckets of crawfish tossed with chili consumed alongside cold, cheap Tsingtao with lots of friends chowing down as well. Don’t be scared to sit eye-to-eye with locals as you challenge them to a crawfish peeling battle on their own turf.
29. Duck neck (鸭脖)
Why we love it: Don’t let the thought of chewing a piece of bony duck neck put you off — these less-than-appetizing-looking tubes are actually full of delicious lean meat. Pick a cool autumn evening and invite a couple of friends over for board games, cold beer and some spicy duck necks. You’ll know what we are talking about.
30. Milk tea (奶茶)
Why we love it: We just can’t resist a cup of these smooth, pearly and self-melt liquids in winter. The Chinese-style milk tea goes incredibly well with jelly pudding, tapioca balls, herbal jelly and nata de coco.
31. Mantou (steamed buns, 馒头)
Why we love it: With a history spanning more than 1,800 years, these puffy mantou, or baozi as they are known in northern China, were probably the world’s fast-food; not to mention they are cheaper and healthier than their modern day fast-food contemporaries.
32. Portuguese egg tarts (蛋挞)
Why we love it: We love Portuguese-style egg tarts, and in Shanghai, the Lillian Cake Shops are synonymous with this eternally popular pastry. With the store motto: “We probably have the best egg tarts in town,” who can resist this sweet treat?
33. Pork mooncake (鲜肉月饼)
Why we love it: Unlike the sweet, oily pastries that Chinese people eat during the Mid-Autumn Festival, pork mooncakes are a savory, meaty Shanghainese delicacy that is available all year around.
34. Niu rou bing (beef pancake, 牛肉饼)
Why we love it: A meaty, spicy version of the Shanghainese cong you bing, Xi’an’s niu rou bing is known for its crispy dough exterior and ground beef stuffing, which is marinated in Sichuan peppercorns. A small bite will have your tongue tingling and your heart warmed up a few degrees.
35. Xun yu (smoked fish, 熏鱼)
Why we love it: Deep-fried then boiled in soy sauce, this fish dish can be eaten as a starter in traditional festival banquets or simply as a snack when you’re out and about. While the outer skin is fried until golden brown and crispy, the inside remains as white as snow, and tastes incredibly tender and succulent.
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