Pictures of the floating world

Must-try Shanghai food

What would your favourite Shanghai food be?

By Anna Purpurpurpur

Finally it’s tame to talk about Shanghai food! Have you waited for this blog as much as I did?

Shanghai is a melting pot of the history periods: imperial China, concession era, communist rule and the modernity. And you can find the reflection of any of them in the cuisines of the city! Here are asian street food stalls, high dining experiences, western restaurants and even Instagrammable cafes – and even Starbucks sells super cute desserts in the animal forms.

Indulge yourself into the cuisines from all over the country, colourful dimsums, cheapest buns from Da Hu Chun with Michelin recommendation, coffee with animal bums at corgi cafe, cute Agatha cakes or afternoon teas! Important: I’m not covering more extreme (for a Westerner) experiences such as eatings scorpios etc.

Hello Corgi cafe

If you follow me for a long time, you know that I adore the animal cafes – but only those that are really dedicated to the wellbeing of the animals. I was pleasantly surprised with the corgi cafe in Shanghai because it looked very clean, wasn’t crowded and the dogs were taken outside for a walk right during our visit.

You buy a ticket to enter – and of course, all short-legs and squeezable-bums related drinks and snacks are the must! Finding the Hello corgi cafe on the site was a bit tricky though as it was in Yangpu District (quite distant from the touristy centre), on the upper part of half-residential building and there were no clear sights in English how to access it (but we don’t judge them with our western standards, right?)

Agatha Paris cafe

You probably know the Agatha Paris brand (their symbol os a cute terrier doggie) – they make very nice jewellery are quite popular in Europe. There are two cafes of this brand in Shanghai, and we visited the one in Xintiandi, buzzing modern area where shopping malls mix with shikumen architecture!

Agatha Paris Cafe was located right inside the shopping mall, was all pinky, with the cutest tableware – and the cakes were spectacular not to mention how photogenic they were. Would return there in a swing!

Tianzifang street food

Tianzifang located near former French Concession is the place where you can try lots of cute, fresh and delicious dishes, from souvenir tea wrapped in panda – stamped paper and mind-blowing bubbles tea to charming buns and mouth-watering desserts. I highly recommend to visit this area hungry!

Tea ceremony

Chinese culture is somehow wrapped around the tea, and there is no way you can escape it when visiting Shanghai. There are tea markets and plantations for those who are ready to travel, but you can buy freshly grounded tea leaves in the touristy sites too. And needless to say that tea ceremony is probably the best way to explore this ancient product!

We had out experience at the Confucian temple located on the Men Hua road, where we were introduced to different tea types, ceramic utensils, tea table and some tea brewing secrets. It was nice but I must say that if you already know much about tea, you won’t be overwhelmingly impressed.

Hairy crab soup dumplings

If you haven’t tried soup dumplings, you lived your life in vain. This is just the best thing that can happen to your mouth and stomach! And if you happen to visit China in autumn, make sure you don’t miss hairy crab soup dumplings.

Hairy crab is considered a precious crustacean, and you can meet many other dishes with it during the 9 and 10 months of Lunar calendar in Shanghai. As for the hairy crab soup dumplings, this seasonal trip which is said to bring you good health for the colder months ahead – you just sip the liquid part through the straw and finish the outer dough of this must-try Shanghai food.

Da Hu Chun: the epitome of Shanghai food

Initially Da Hu Chun restaurant opened in 1932, and it still serves freshly made buns and dim sum at Middle Sichuan Road as well as at a few other locations. The main specials of it is pan-fried pork buns Shui Jian Bao, a real Shanghai food speciality, and those were absolutely delicious! This place is very proud to be listed in Michelin guide (don’t mix with Michelin stars) too.

Shanghai food

Screwed berries and fruits

We are quite used to the candied apples for Christmas or screwed strawberries in chocolate – and the concept is the same for this Chinese dish too! There is a special type of hardened sugar syrup that covers fruits called Tanghulu, and the most traditional option for a screwer is Chinese hawthorn.

However you can also find strawberries, grapes, and even the pieces of pineapple and mandarin! And if you like sugary crunchy staff, don’t hesitate to try the lollipops too – they come in all shapes!

Nai lao

Nai lao is fermented dairy beverage very popular among Chinese. It’s frequently described as yogurts but actually the word can be translated as ‘cheese’, and the texture and taste of it is a bit different from yogurt.

I’d say, there’s something of kefir or sour cream too. You can find those sold in all touristy spots in disposable cups – treat your microbiome with some good stuff too!

Street food buns and pies

I’ve already shown you some buns in this article, and it’s time for more buns, cakes and pies! Street food stalls sell all types of this Shanghai food, just a dough – steamed, fried or baked – with a juicy filling. They are fresh, nippingly hot and absolutely delicious. Don’t forget to try different varieties!

Shanghai Old City
Shanghai old city

Rainbow Xiaolongbao

There was another place I went purely in order to take a shot for my Instagram feed: rainbow Xiaolongbao in Joinbuy city plaza, a shopping mall just steps away from Jing’an Temple, a famous touristy landmark and a religious centre.

The portion of xiaolongbao included all flavours imaginable, even the foie gras and truffle! We also went for some soups, fresh spring rolls and buns, and – no exaggeration – this was one of my favourite meals of all the trip to mainland China!

Shanghai temples
Shanghai temples
Shanghai food
Shanghai food

Mystic South Yunnan Ethnic Cuisine

Shanghai food is all about the diversity – why not to try something new too? There are several quite distinct variations of Chinese cuisine based on the geographical location. You probably know Cantonese as the most widely presented in Europe and Sichuan as it’s famous for its hot dishes. However I encourage you to try more!

We went for the Yunnan cuisine originating from the Yunnan province on the south-west of the country known for its agriculture and historical heritage. Our restaurant which was told to be translated as ‘Mystic South Yunnan Ethnic Cuisine’ was located in Xintiandi district, and the food was both looking good and tasting good.

Read more about the mainland China:

Old city of Shanghai
Temples of Shanghai
Pudong, Shanghai
Forbidden city, Beijing
Great Wall of China

I hope you enjoyed my blog!
Yours, Anna

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