Sour, Sweet, and Maybe Some Meat – Shanghai’s Best Huaiyang Restaurants

Excited to try some regional cuisine in a city as big and diverse as Shanghai? Get ready for an explosion of flavor with the dishes of the nearby Huaiyang region. Glutton Guide Shanghai will introduce Shanghai’s best Huaiyang restaurants as well as Shanghai’s best everything else. You’ll want to get a copy ASAP!

Huaiyang cuisine encompasses the region between the Huai and Yangtze Rivers, including Shanghainese food (which is considered a bastardized version of Huaiyang thanks to the city’s historical foreign influence). This type of local cuisine is known for being quite sweet and sour; sugar and vinegar are added to almost every dish. Dishes most often include pork and freshwater seafood fished out of the rivers from which the cuisine gets its name, and braising and stewing are the most typical preparations.

Jianguo 328 / 328小馆 

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It’s all about simple, clean flavors and top-notch ingredients at this Shanghainese restaurant. They fervently implement the city’s official no-smoking policy, and there’s no MSG on the menu. The flavor of every dish reflects the trend toward quality ingredients, and they even filter the water they use to boil their excellent noodles. More info.

 

Lao Ji Shi (Old Jesse) / 老吉士 

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There’s a reason this is one of the most recommended restaurants in China: it’s the best darn Shanghainese in town. Avoid the “New” Jesses around town – they’re not nearly as good. And make sure to call ahead about the “secret” dishes, although the menu lists most of them, they require pre-ordering several days in advance.

 

FU 1088 / 1088


There are four FU restaurants in town, all run by Shanghai’s closest thing to a celebrity chef (Tony Lu) and housed in beautiful art deco villas in Jing’an. Fu 1088 is the cheapest of the lot, but the minimum spend pre-booze is still RMB 400 per person. It’s worth it just for the chance to eat in a private room of such a beautiful house; luckily the food is amazing too.

Is your mouth watering yet? Good thing Glutton Guide Shanghai is here to help you find all of the most delicious things in China’s most stunning city! Check it out for everything from Indian food to Hong Kong desserts and more!

 

9 Must-Try Shanghai Street Foods

shanghai street food

From dawn until dusk, the scent of cooking perfumes Shanghai’s streets. Steamed, fried, baked, roasted, boiled – the city’s incredible range of fresh street food is often made right in front of your eyes. To find out where to get the best of Shanghai’s street foods, download Glutton Guide Shanghai: The Hungry Traveler’s Guidebook.

 

  1. Xiǎolóngbāo 小笼包 Soup Dumplings
 

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One of the region’s most famous dishes and the ultimate Shanghai street food, xiǎolóngbāo nestle in steaming bamboo baskets along the streets. The thin dumpling wrapper encases minced pork and liquefied pork jelly. Dip the dumpling in rice vinegar steeped with ginger, then slurp out the piping hot pork soup carefully before you take a bite.

  1. Cōngyóubǐng 葱油饼 Scallion Oil Pancakes
 

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These scallion oil pancakes come in a variety of forms and cooking methods, from single-serving, crispy, flaky fried bing to giant, thickly-layered baked options, but they’re best when cooked-to-order. An all-day Shanghai street food snack, you’ll find them flecked with green onions on many street corners in the former French Concession and the small alleyways of Old Town.

  1. Jiānbing Chinese Crepes
 

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The perfect on-the-go breakfast, these thin crepes are fried on flat griddles with an egg. Then the hawker tosses cilantro, green onions and pickled mustard tubers on the crepe. Savory bean paste and fiery chili paste are slathered on to add flavor, while a deep-fried wonton skin adds crunch. If you prefer your treats non-spicy, just ask for it “bùlà (不辣)” and the vendor will forgo the chili.

  1. Shēngjiānbāo生煎包 Pan-fried dumplings
 

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Locally called shēngjiān mántou (生煎馒头), this street food is famous for being incredibly juicy. Bite carefully and slurp out the hot soup inside before you dive in completely. Fried on the bottom and steamed on top for a duo of textures, these buns usually come in orders of four. Sprinkle on the vinegar and enjoy!

  1. Cífàntuán 饭团 Glutinous Rice Balls
 

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These glutinous rice balls come in both savory and sweet flavors, and locals eat them for breakfast. You can spot them from the street by the wooden or metal jug of rice, as chefs ball them up with a tableful of ingredients. Just point to what you want added and take your cifantuan to go.

  1. Bāozi 包子 Steamed buns

Steamed buns the size of a fist, baozi are one of the cheapest and most efficient street foods in Shanghai. Shops usually sell a variety of fillings, from original pork flavor to vegetarian options with a combination of mushrooms, bok choy and tofu (菜包 cài bāo) usually denoted by the green fleck in the seam on top. Black sesame (芝麻 zhīma) paste is a sweet option popular with the locals.

  1. Guōtiē 锅贴 Potstickers
 

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Though you might not know it, you’ve probably tried this street food in some incarnation before. “Guo” means “pot” and “tie” means “to stick”, so these are literally “potstickers”. Like shengjianbao, these juicy pork-stuffed dumplings are fried on the bottom in a shallow wok. Then they are steamed with a bit of water in the same pot.

  1. Yóutiáo hé dòujiāng 油条和豆 Soy milk & Chinese crullers

A classic breakfast combination, Chinese crullers (油条 yóutiáo) and soy milk (豆浆 dòujiāng) are China’s version of cereal and milk. The deep-fried doughnuts are the perfect dipping tools for the savory or sweet soy milk, and nothing beats them when fried fresh.

  1. Húntún馄饨 Wontons
 

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Like an inside out xiaolóngbāo, wonton soup is floating with tiny enrobed parcels of pork and shrimp. This Shanghai street food is a delicious and filling meal any time of day. Their history dates back to 200 B.C. – plenty of time to perfect it. You can also order the dumplings “dry” and topped with sauce.

  1. Shāokǎo Grilled skewers
 

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You’ll find roving kebab vendors grilling up this portable street food underneath plumes of smoke after night falls all around Shanghai. The raw ingredients are laid out for inspection in front of the bbq – all you have to do is pack them onto a silver tray and hand them to the grillmaster.

For more on what to eat while in Shanghai, check out our 13 Must-Try Shanghainese Dishes. And to learn more on how to stay safe while eating your way through the Shanghai’s street food, download Glutton Guide Shanghai: The Hungry Traveler’s Guidebook and check out our Street Food Safety Chapter.

 

 

 

How to Eat in Shanghai for Less than $15 a Day

Shanghai consistently ranks at the top of the list for the most expensive cities in the world for expats, but those lists use things like buying a car and leasing a serviced apartment in their measurements. After this video of an American surviving in Shanghai for just RMB 130 per day went viral, we wanted to show you how you can live cheaply. You’ll be surprised by how economical Shanghai is – starting with the cost of eating. Heck, most of these dinners could easily satiate two! For more information about how to eat like a local in China, pick up your copy of Glutton Guide Shanghai.

Day #1 = RMB 92.5

Breakfast: Jianbing Stall

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What: The perfect on-the-go breakfast, these thin crepes are fried on flat griddles with an egg, and then flecked with cilantro, green onions and pickled mustard tubers. Savory bean paste and fiery chili paste are slathered on to add flavor, while a deep-fried wonton skin adds crunch. If you prefer your treats non-spicy, just ask for it “bùlà (不辣)” and the vendor will forgo the chili.

Where: Wulumuqi Zhong Lu, near Wuyuan Lu. 乌鲁木齐中路近五原路.

How much: 4.5

Lunch: Mia’s Yunnan Kitchen

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What: Long wooden tables make communal dining at this rustic Yunnan restaurant easy and fun. Lunch sets include one meat and one vegetable main, a bowl of rice and a drink. The mint salad and goat cheese are favorites.

Where: 45-47 Anfu Lu, near Changshu Lu. 安福路45-47号近常熟路.

How much: 45 Lunch Set

Dinner: Xinjiang Expedition

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What: This Uighur restaurant is easy to spot with its al fresco golden grill roasting up skewers of fatty lamb and discs of golden naan out front. They set up tables outside during warm weather for a great smoky al fresco experience.

What: 20 Yuyuan Zhi Lu, near Wulumuqi Bei Lu. 愚园支路20号, 近乌鲁木齐北路.

How much:  

18 for lamb fried with nan

20 hand-chopped noodles

5 grilled lamb skewer

 

Day #2 RMB 92

Breakfast: Fu Chun Xiaolongbao

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What: For a taste of Shanghai-style soup dumplings with thicker dumpling skins and sweet broth, head to this local institution. The second floor serves other Shanghainese dishes in a sit-down setting, but the packed first floor offers quick counter service dining with steamer baskets constantly rotating out of the open kitchen.

Where: 650 Yuyuan Lu, near Jiangsu Lu. 愚园路650号近江苏路.

How Much:  

8 Xiaolongbao

6 Wontons

Lunch: Lanzhou Lamian

What: At neighborhood halal restaurants around the city, expert noodle masters create spaghetti-thin strands from fresh dough right before your eyes – it’s lunch AND a show. Many locations are open 24-hours and feature picture menus for easy ordering, fresh ingredients and an unbelievable display of dexterity.

Where: 100 Xiangyang Bei Lu, near Xinle Lu. 襄阳北路100号, 近新乐路

How much:   12 Hand-pulled beef noodles

Dinner: Tao Heung

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What: If you head to this Hong Kong hotspot during typical dim sum times like weekend brunch, be prepared to take a number and queue for hours (or take turns wandering around the mall). Their cheap prices and quality ingredients have made it one of the best value dim sum joints in Shanghai. Pass the time by preordering your dishes at the handy menu consoles – just be careful that your hungry eyes aren’t too much bigger than your stomach.

Where: IAPM Mall, 3F, 999 Huaihai Zhong Lu, near Shaanxi Nan Lu. 淮海中路999号3楼, 近陕西南路  

How Much:  

8 BBQ pork buns

18 Pan-fried radish cake

20 Black bean spareribs

8 Beef Balls with tofu

12 Egg custard sweet buns

 

Day #3 RMB 94

Breakfast: Da Hu Chun Shengjianbao + Beef curry soup

What: A member of the exalted group of China’s “Time-Honored Brands”, Da Hu Chun was one of the originating vendors of the shengjian bao back in the 1930s. They use the “clear water” technique, frying the seam of the bun face-up to allow for more juice on the inside. Try them with a side of yellow curry beef broth.

Where: 71 Yunnan Nan Lu, near Jinling Dong Lu. 云南南路71号近金陵东路

How Much:  

6 Shengjianbao

8 Beef curry soup

Lunch: Mi Xiang Yuan

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What: This cafeteria-style restaurant serves alleyway cuisine at its finest. The family-owned establishment is famous for its affordable lunch sets, which feature mains like lion’s head meatballs and marinated pork, alongside soup, rice and vegetable sides that rotate to include whatever is brought in fresh daily from the family’s nearby organic farm. Tables are often shared at peak meal times and dishes sell out fast.

Where: 608 Xiaomuqiao Lu, near Zhongshan Nan Er Lu. 小木桥路608号近中山南二路

How Much: 23 Stewed Chicken & mushroom set

Dinner: Four Seasons Dumpling King

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What: Despite the name, Four Seasons has a lot more to offer than just dumplings. With a menu over 100 items long, you can work your way through the entire regional cuisine at this restaurant alone – and once you’ve had one meal here, you’ll be back for more soon.

Where: 379 Xikang Lu, near Wuding Lu. 西康路379号近武定路  

How Much:    

16 Braised eggplant, potato & bell peppers

16 Sesame peanut noodles

15 Three fen of boiled cabbage & pork dumplings (15 total)

10 Tsingtao

For more information about all of these restaurants, including where to find them and what else to order, pick up your copy of Glutton Guide Shanghai. The digital guidebook notes the price point of all the listed restaurants, so you can easily stick to your budget when planning your trip.

Chinese Breakfast March Madness: Desserts & Other Regions

Vote on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

March 22 – DESSERTS & OTHER REGIONS

What’s breakfast without dessert? Our last region includes desserts and other regional specialties that don’t fit into the North, East or South distinctions. Vote on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for your favorites to power them through to the next round.

Egg custard tart (流沙包 Liúshā bāo) versus Almond Tofu (杏仁豆腐 Xìngrén dòufu)

Egg custard tart and almond tofu

Macaunese egg tart (蛋挞 Dàntà) versus Potstickers (锅贴 Guōtiē)

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Egg pancake (蛋饼 Dànbǐng) and Tofu pudding (豆脑 Dòunǎo)

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Congee (粥 Zhōu) versus Tea eggs (茶叶蛋 Cháyè dàn)

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Chinese Breakfast March Madness: East Region

Vote on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

March 21 – EAST

The sweet delicate flavors of Shanghai and Huaiyang face off to see who makes it to the Sweet 16. Vote on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for your favorites to power them through to the next round.

Scallion oil noodles (葱油拌面 Cōngyóu bànmiàn) versus Glutinous rice balls (糍饭团 Cí fàntuán)

Scallion oil noodles and cifantuan

Shanghai soup dumplings (小笼包 Xiǎolóngbāo) versus Soymilk & Chinese crullers (豆浆和油条 Dòujiāng hé yóutiáo)

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Pan-fried dumplings (生煎包 Shēngjiānbāo) versus Wontons (馄饨 Húntún)

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Scallion oil pancakes (葱油饼 Cōngyóu bǐng) versus Sesame ball (芝麻球 Zhīma qiú)

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Chinese Breakfast March Madness

Missed the deadline for your office’s March Madness pool? We’ve got a delicious alternative for you! The ultimate test for China’s best breakfast dish, as voted by the people. Vote on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

March 17 – SOUTH

The best of Cantonese dim sum goes head-to-head:

Durian puffs (榴莲千丝酥 Liúlián qiān sī sū) versus BBQ pork buns (叉烧包 Chāshāo bāo)

Durian puffs versus bbq buns
 
 

Radish cake (萝卜糕 Luóbo gāo) versus Steamed sticky rice (糯米鸡 Nuòmǐ jī)

radish cake versus nuomi ji
 

 

Rice noodle roll (肠粉 Cháng fěn) versus Steamed shrimp dumplings (虾饺 Xiā jiǎo)

chang fen versus har gow
 
 

Pineapple bun (菠萝包 Bōluó bāo) versus Open-faced dumplings (烧卖 Shāomai)

shao mai versus pineapple bun
 

March 18 – NORTH

The gloves are off as the overpowering flavors of Dongbei (Northeast) China fight for the right to move on to the next round.

Fermented mungbean milk (豆汁 Dòuzhī) versus Steamed buns (包子 Bāozi)

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Chinese chive turnovers (韭菜盒子 Jiǔcài hézi) versus Chinese crepe (煎饼 Jiānbing)

jianbing versus chive turnovers
 

Sesame millet porridge (面茶 Miànchá) versus Baked flatbread (烧饼 Shāobǐng)

miancha shaobing
 

Beijing yogurt (北京酸奶 Běijīng suānnǎi) versus (Chinese donuts 糖糕 Táng gāo)

chinese yogurt donuts
 

March 21 – EAST

Huaiyang and Shanghainese cuisine on the eastern seaboard are famous for sweet dishes, but which dish will move on to the Sweet 16?

Glutinous rice balls (糍饭团 Cí fàntuán) versus Scallion pancake (葱油饼 Cōng yóubǐng)

scallion noodles versus rice ball

Sesame ball (麻球 Máqiú) versus Scallion oil noodles (葱油拌面 Cōngyóu bànmiàn)

ma qiu and congyoubing

Pan-fried buns (生煎包 Shēng jiān bāo) versus Wontons (馄饨 Húntún)

shengjianbao wontons

Shanghai soup dumplings (小笼包 Xiǎo lóng bāo) versus Soy milk & cruller (豆浆和油条 Dòujiāng hé yóutiáo)

xlb doujiang

 

March 22 – Desserts & Other Regions

Like your breakfasts sugary? Then this is the category for you. Select which sugar-packed snack or other regional dish will make it to the second round of breakfast madness.

Almond tofu (杏仁豆腐Xìngrén dòufu) versus Egg custard tart (流沙包 Liúshā bāo)

almond tofu egg custard

Potstickers (锅贴 Guōtiē) versus Macanese egg tart (蛋挞 Dàntà)

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Tea egg (茶叶蛋 Cháyè dàn) versus Congee (粥 Zhōu)

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Silken tofu (豆花 Dòuhuā) versus Egg pancake (蛋饼 Dàn bǐng)

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Chinese Dumplings Quiz

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Now that you know your stuff, why not check out Glutton Guide Shanghai for more info? It’s got all you need to know to plan a culinary-focused trip in Shanghai to make sure that you never waste a precious mouthful. Info on where to find the best mom and pop dumpling shops, different types of dumplings in regional cuisines, how to stay safe eating street food dumplings and more!