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!


Satisfying Salads – Where to Eat Healthy in Shanghai

Sure, eating your weight in xiaolongbao is a rite of a passage for any visitor to Shanghai, but sometimes you just need a salad. Don’t worry: Glutton Guide  knows just where you should go to eat healthy in Shanghai. 

Hunter Gatherer 

This fast casual restaurant serves seed-to-table salads, soups, smoothies and paninis – most of it from their own organic farms, making it on the the best places to eat healthy in Shanghai. Both locations also have a grocery shop with imported staples like fair-trade chocolate and Sir Kensington’s ketchup, as well as nut butters ground to order and their own line of bottled cold-pressed juices. The second location in Xintiandi is even larger and offers a meat carvery as well as a “Chef of the Season” station featuring another one of Shanghai’s favorite cooks every time the weather changes.

Lizzy’s All Naturals

If you’re into nut butters, superfood smoothies, acai bowls and detox programs, Lizzy’s has you covered. Founded by a blonde haired, blue-eyed expat who is a walking advertisement for healthy living, Lizzy’s serves up their healthy eats on Kate & Kimi, Z&B Fitness or their WeChat store.


A Chinese maxim declares, “Only barbarians eat salad”, but Sproutworks, a salad emporium, is changing the local mindset with delicious options that span the globe. Try couscous with raisins and apples, mixed mushroom quinoa or kale & cranberry with parmesan from their mix-and-match menu.

It’s easy to eat healthy in Shanghai! Now that you’ve finished your salad, perhaps you’re feeling like something sweet? Glutton Guide Shanghai can give you recommendations for everything from Hong Kong desserts to fancy imported bakeries. 

Plenty of Plants – Shanghai’s Best Local Vegetarian Restaurants

If you’re keen to travel to Shanghai but worried about how to maintain your vegetarian diet, Glutton Guide Shanghai has got you covered! You’ll get a healthy, delicious experience at these vegetarian restaurants. (And you might just find a cool bar or café afterward.)

East Asian Buddhists do not follow a vegetarian diet as strictly as other practitioners, but when they do, they do it well. Some restaurants offer meat substitutes, made from gluten, tofu and mushrooms, while others let the vegetables speak for themselves.

Fu He Hui 福和慧 

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A member of the Fu family of restaurants by Shanghainese celebrity chef Tony Lu, Fu He Hui is the only one that doesn’t serve meat. Choose from three set menus of eight courses (priced at RMB 380, 680 or 880 per person) and expect an elegant and luxurious meal that even omnivores will swoon over. The inspiration is Buddhist (eight is the religion’s luckiest number, thus the pricing and number of courses), and the heavenly dishes change with the seasons. The restaurant – made up mostly of baofang (private rooms) – is decorated with local antiques from the restaurateur’s private collection. Some are allegedly worth millions! In 2017, it was ranked 48th on San Pellegrino’s Best Restaurants in Asia list. In 2015, it earned the prized Highest New Entry title.

Godly Vegetarian 

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This vegan restaurant has been catering to the herbivore crowd since 1922, but this is their lower-priced noodle & wonton shop in the former French Concession. The stripped down menu is a plus – the other shops make meat substitutes that underwhelm.

Lucky Zen 吉祥草

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This Buddhist restaurant doubles as a grocer, bookstore and crystals vendor. The menu lists all the ingredients in English, so you’ll have a good idea of what you’re ordering. Don’t skip the excellent teas – their drink list is as extensive and innovative as the main menu. More info.

Wu Guan Tang 五观堂

Don’t be surprised if the diners at the table next to you are monks dressed in robes with shaved heads. This vegetarian restaurant strictly adheres to the Buddhist tenets regarding food. This includes the Four Withouts: no MSG, no products designed to look or taste like meat, no fried food and no carbonated beverages. Thankfully the food is so good, you won’t miss any of those. 

Wu Jie 大蔬无界

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This contemporary Chinese vegetarian restaurant has expanded to neighboring Suzhou and Hangzhou with its local, organic food and focus on a plant-based lifestyle. (Plus it created Miss Ma, a macaroon brand that uses vegetables for flavors – it’s way better than it sounds.) There’s nothing homestyle about this eatery, so you can expect playful, avante garde Chinese dishes that are a pleasure for omnivores and vegetarians alike. The Bund location is extra fancy, so pick that one for a night out and trust the seasonal set menus.

If you enjoyed these restaurants and want to find out more about culinary traditions in Shanghai, check out Glutton Guide Shanghai for all of the best treats! From cool desserts to spicy Sichuan food and more, this food guide has it all!


Shanghai’s Best Sichuan Restaurants

Looking for Shanghai’s Best Sichuan food? Chuan cuisine – as Sichuan cuisine is known throughout China – relies heavily on five-alarm chili peppers and mouth-numbing Sichuan peppercorn to create spicy flavors that have made it world famous. The climate of the region is humid and cold, so the piquant dishes warm up the residents from the inside out. UNESCO also named Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, the first Asian “City of Gastronomy” in 2010. Pungent flavors run throughout the menu, with garlic, ginger and peanuts making it into most dishes. Here are five of Shanghai’s Best Sichuan restaurants. 

Chuan Chuan Xiang Ma La Tang 串串香麻辣烫

This “mouth-numbingly spicy soup” doses its broth with 20 ingredients, including Sichuan peppercorns, fresh chilies, ginger, star anise and ginkgo nuts. Pick your soup’s fresh, raw fillers and place them in a basket where they’ll be counted up by the cashier before stewing in the fragrant broth. Don’t forget a squirt of peanut sauce and handful of cilantro to finish off your soup!

Dengji Shiyuan 邓记食园

The fact that a restaurant from land-locked Sichuan province offers one of the best crab dishes in town demonstrates Shanghai’s ability to bring together the best of the country’s cuisines and ingredients. The crab dish that makes this restaurant famous relies on the pickled vegetables native to Sichuan, and all the supporting dishes are downright delicious.

Lu Dajie 卢大姐

If the weather is cool out, it’s a great time to eat goat meat soup, considered to be warming in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Big Sister Lu brought her secret family recipe from Sichuan province and is slowly converting Shanghai’s diners. They opened a second branch in 2013. Tender goat meat stew with bones for six hours, and results in a rich, layered broth. The large soup version comes hotpot style, with vegetables, noodles and a generous helping of meat. The spicy cold noodles are also a must-order, but the whole menu features classic regional dishes that warrant a try. More info.

Yu Xin 俞信 

Since 1993, Yu Xin’s chefs shipped their herbs and peppers from Sichuan to their Beijing & Shanghai restaurants. Their water-poached fish is one of the most recommended dishes on Dianping (China’s Yelp), so don’t miss it. There’s no reservations after 6pm, so bring a book if you plan to go during peak meal times. 

Xiaochu Mian 小厨面

Straight from China’s spiciest province, Xiaochu Mian dishes up noodles from three unassuming locations on Shanghai’s east side (Pudong). In an area dominated by new malls and soulless restaurant conglomerates, the mini-chain is a fiery breath of fresh air. The noodles mingle with Sichuan peppercorns (椒 huājiāo), creating the mouth-numbing flavor of the region. 

Looking for more info on Shanghai’s best Sichuan restaurants? Download Glutton Guide Shanghai and you’ll get detailed address info in both English & Mandarin, as well as a bilingual ordering guide for all of these restaurants and more. Now you can visit Shanghai and eat like a local!

Shanghai’s 9 Best Patios For Drinking Al Fresco

If you spent July & August in a dark room with the air conditioner on high, we don’t blame you. But now with September in full swing, it’s time to maximize your al fresco drinking time. Find a perch on one these rooftops or terraces, and order a round to toast a farewell to the scorching summer.

For more on Shanghai’s best places to drink – both outdoor and in – pick up a copy of Glutton Guide Shanghai. The book’s second edition was updated in August 2016, covering even more of the best places for an outdoor tipple.


Flair Glutton Guide Shanghai

The best bet for stunning views on a clear day, Flair’s 58th floor patio is the highest al fresco bar in the city. While the tables outside command a hefty minimum charge, especially on weekend nights, even those ordering drinks inside can wander to the patio to soak in the view and take a few pictures. There are higher options (like the new Shanghai Tower), but Flair lets you feel the wind in your hair. Call ahead for reservations and exact minimum table charges, as they are subject to change.

Ritz-Carlton Pudong, 58F, 8 Shiji Da Dao, near Lujiazui Huan Lu. 世纪大道8号上海浦东丽思卡尔顿酒店58楼近陆家嘴环路. Subway: Line 2 – Lujiazui. Tel: +86 21 2020 1778. Hours: 5:30pm-2am.

Boxing Cat Brewery ($$, FFC)

Started in 2008 and led by US-native and prolific restaurateur Kelly Lee, Boxing Cat Brewery kick-started Shanghai’s microbrewery movement and never looked back. Now with two welcoming locations – both kitted out with outdoor drinking areas – the brewery aims to please expats looking for a quality microbrew. With an accompanying restaurant featuring spicy southern flavors from along the I-10 freeway corridor, the food is an excellent accompaniment to the range of beers here.

Original FFC location: 82 Fuxing Xi Lu, near Yongfu Lu. 复兴路82号近永福路. Subway: Line 10 – Shanghai Library. Tel: +86 21 6431 2091.

Second FFC location: Sinan Mansions, Unit 26A, 519 Fuxing Zhong Lu, near Sinan Lu. 思南公馆复兴中路519号26A 近思南路. Subway: Line 1/10/12 – South Shaanxi Road. Tel: +86 21 6426 0360.

Web: Hours: Mon-Thurs 5pm-2am, Fri 3pm-2am, Sat-Sun 10am-2am.


Char Glutton Guide Shanghai

Situated at the south end of the Puxi (west) side of the river, Char Bar sits atop the Hotel Indigo and commands a stunning view, encompassing both sides of the river (pictured above). Look out to the northwest for the gorgeous colonial buildings of the former British Concession area and to the east to take in Lujiazui, the city’s skyscraper-ed financial district. With a large outdoor deck, reservable VIP couches and creative cocktails, Char has definite wow factor.

Hotel Indigo, 29-31F, 585 Zhongshan Dong Er Lu, near Dongmen Lu. 上海外滩英迪格酒店, 中山东二路585号29-31楼近东门路. Subway: Line 10 – Yuyuan Garden. Tel: +86 21 3302 9995. Hours: 6pm-late.

Jackie’s Beer Nest

This teeny, tiny beer bar has over 80 imported beers in its wall-to-wall refrigerators, as well as the largest selection of locally-made craft beers (and the occasional cider) on tap. Some of Jackie’s stuff is home-brewed (and pretty darn good), while other drafts come from Chengdu, Nanjing and other regional areas. The taps change regularly with the seasons, and the tables spill out onto the impromptu sidewalk patio to make room for customers.

76 Zhaozhou Lu, near Dongtai Lu. 肇周路76号, 近东台路. Subway: Line 8/10 – Laoximen. Tel: +86 138 1650 2260. Hours: 5:30-10pm.


Kartel Glutton Guides Shanghai

While most view bars situate themselves along the Huangpu River to feature the iconic Shanghai skyline, Kartel goes in the other direction. The leafy streets of the former French Concession generally feature lower buildings, so the sixth floor rooftop presents a unique view over the historic villas that dot the area, as well as the skyscrapers beyond. Chic interior design and well-mixed cocktails are the cherry on top.

5F, 1 Xiangyang Bei Lu, near Julu Lu. 襄阳北路1号5楼近巨鹿路. Subway: Line 2/7 – Jing’an Temple. Tel: +86 21 5404 2899. Hours: 6pm-2am. Happy Hour: 6-8pm.


The bigger, lusher Maya is one of Shanghai’s best restaurants from south of the border, but the same tequila-loving restaurateurs took things to new heights when they opened Mayita in 2014. The menu is basically the same as Maya, just pared down to the most popular dishes. What really helps this little sister restaurant win the sibling rivalry is its palatial patio. Views across the river to Pudong’s imposing skyscrapers go great with a pitcher of equally strong margaritas.

6F, 98 Shouning Lu, near Xizang Nan Lu (entrance inside Fraser Residences). 寿宁路98号近西藏南路. Subway: Line 8 – Dashijie. Tel: +86 21 6334 3288. Hours: Mon-Fri 11am-2:30pm & 5pm-late, Sat-Sun 11am-late.

Pudao Wines

pudao shanghai glutton guides

One of Shanghai’s best hidden terraces, this wine shop sells bottles at 10 per cent off if you drink in house. If you prefer sips instead of full bottles, hit up their Enomatic wine dispenser for card-carrying members, which offers a range of prices and varietals for the indecisive. Their knowledgeable staff is always happy to help if you’re looking for some guidance.

Ferguson Lane, 376 Wukang Lu, near Tai’an Lu. 武康路376号近泰安路. Subway: Line 10 – Shanghai Library. Tel: +86 21 6090 7075. Hours: noon-9pm.

Zhang Yuan

Tucked into an alleyway heritage building, Zhang Yuan, a compact complex of restaurants and bars, is a great place to barhop. On a nice day, settle into a session at Tap House. They have the largest selection of beers on tap in town, and a terrace to match. Next door, Starling offers up cocktails inspired by Southeast Asia’s colonial days (think Tom Yam Coladas). If it starts to rain, head to the second floor of Building A, Logan’s Punch pours exceptionally strong drinks – you’ve been warned – and one floor up is El Ocho, a Spanish-inspired cocktail bar and the eighth F&B establishment for El Willy. They mix some of Shanghai’s most interesting drinks indoors.

99 Taixing Lu, near Wujiang Lu. 泰兴路99号张园近吴江路. Subway: Line 2/12/13 – West Nanjing Road. Hours: Each bar has their own closing hours, but many go well past 2am.

Yongkang Lu

yongkang shanghai glutton guide

Yongkang Lu is Shanghai’s own little stretch of Williamsburg. The two-block street features hipster bars, bottle shops and foreign food stores that the young international crowd loves. The sudden popularity of the area took locals by surprise, and noise complaints force an early street wide last call (10pm). Now it is the perfect first-stop for happy hours and daydrinking when the weather is nice. There have been a couple closings this summer, so get there soon – before it’s all gone.

Yongkang Lu, near Xiangyang Lu. 永康路近襄阳路. Subway: Line 1/10/12 – South Shaanxi Road. Hours: Most bars close their al fresco activities by 10pm.

For more on Shanghai’s best places to drink, pick up a copy of Glutton Guide Shanghai.The book’s second edition was updated in August 2016, covering even more of the best places for an outdoor tipple.


How to Eat Like Emeril Lagasse in Shanghai (& Mario Batali)

In April 2016, Celebrity Chefs Emeril Lagasse and Mario Batali came to Shanghai to film a new food travel series for Amazon Prime: Eat the World with Emeril Lagasse. The mission: discover the city’s xiaolongbao culture and make their own version of it.

Zun Ke Lai

First up, Chefs Mario Batali & Emeril Lagasse head to Zun Ke Lai (尊克莱), the winner of the Shanghai Soup Dumpling Index’s formula for best xlb.

The Shanghai Soup Dumpling Index, a “scientific” investigation of the local specialty, named this cafeteria style restaurant the best XLB purveyor in the city. Its whisper-thin wrappers put it over the edge, and the moreish soup inside is up there with the best of them.

666 Tianyaoqiao Lu, at Shanghai Indoor Stadium, #5 escalator. 666 万体5号扶梯. Subway: Line 1/3/4 – Shanghai Indoor Stadium. Tel: No phone. Hours: 10:30am-10pm (xlb often sell out by dinner). Menu: Chinese only.

Jiajia Tangbao

Then, Emeril & Mario take their chopsticks to Jiajia Tangbao (佳家), a Shanghai institution since 1905.

With seven locations around town, Jiajia Tangbao is the most famous hole-in-the-wall chain in Shanghai and has an abbreviated English menu. The original Huanghe Lu shop is conveniently located across the street from shengjianbao chain Yangs’ Fried Dumplings, making it the perfect two-birds, one-stone stop for visitors without much time to dive into the street food culture.

90 Huanghe Lu, near Fengyang Lu. Subway: Line 1/2/8 – People’s Square. Tel: +86 21 6327 6878. Hours: 7:30am-8pm. Menu: Chinese & an abbreviated English menu.

Wet Market

Once they had tasted the dumplings, Emeril & Mario pow-wowed on what variations of xlb to make and headed to a local wet market to shop for their own ingredients.

Mario Batali Shangahi

Emeril Lagasse Shanghai


There are wet markets every couple of blocks in Shanghai, but Fuxing Lu Wet Market beats out the competitors thanks to its ready-made snack section. From freshly baked pancakes to candied lotus roots to roasted ducks, this market ensures you’ll never have to grocery shop hungry. In addition to selling fresh produce, meats and fish, the market also has an import store on the second floor. More info.

1239 Fuxing Zhong Lu, near Xiangyang Lu复兴中路1239号在襄阳路. Subway: Line 1/10 – Shaanxi Nan Lu. Hours: roughly 6am-6pm.

Guyi Garden Restaurant

Finally, the chefs headed to Guyi Garden Restaurant, the birthplace of xiaolongbao in Nanxiang.

Emeril Lagasse Mario Batali Shanghai

Guyi Garden Restaurant Shanghai



Shanghai’s signature snack xiaolongbao, was invented in Nanxiang, a village- turned-suburb now a quick subway ride from downtown. Now a staple of the tourist path, Guyi Garden churns out tens of thousands of xiaolongbao a day on a human assembly line. Mario Batali made his soup dumplings from eel, while Emeril Lagasse added the soup to the outside of the xiaolongbao, making a broth from pig’s feet and stuffing the wontons with pork. They then fed them to the wait staff and the restaurant’s boss to see who won battle xiaolongbao.

218 Huyi Highway, near Guyiyuan South Road. 沪宜公路218号近古漪园南路. Metro: Line 11 – Nanxiang Station. Tel: +86 21 5912 1335. Hours: 8am-7pm.


And check out our Glutton-in-Chief Jamie Barys (who got to be Emeril’s sous chef for the day!!!) with Mario & Emeril post-filming. This is pretty much the best day of her life!Emeril Lagasse Mario Batali Shanghai



If you’re looking for more celebrity chef itineraries, check out our blogs on when Anthony Bourdain and Rick Stein filmed in Shanghai. For more on where to eat in Shanghai, download Glutton Guide Shanghai: The Hungry Traveler’s Guidebook. 

Glutton Guide Shanghai 2016/2017 Edition Out Now

Shanghai Food GuideStaying up to date with the best places to eat and drink in Shanghai’s fickle dining scene can feel like an uphill battle, unless you’re armed with Glutton Guide Shanghai: The Hungry Traveler’s Guidebook. The 2016 edition includes the addition of fast favorites like EAST Modern Eatery, Egg and Zotter Chocolate Theater, and also bids a fond farewell to several of the city’s best street food vendors and night markets as the government continues its crackdown on their activities. Don’t worry though, we’ve subbed in some new spots that the chengguan haven’t yet closed. You’ll never rock up to a closed shop if you’ve got Glutton Guide on your phone.

If you purchased Glutton Guide Shanghai 2015, you are eligible for a free upgrade. Forward your purchase email to and we will send you the latest edition with the most up-to-dates places to eat and drink in Shanghai.

Download your copy on our website or Kindle’s Amazon store.

Buenos Aires also just launched last week! And keep an eye out this summer for our next cities: Prague & Beijing will be out soon!

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.