Although Shanghai does not belong to China’s Eight Major Cuisines, the foods here are worth trying as they combine many intriguing aspects from surrounding provinces. Shanghai cuisine is considered as ‘sweet and oily’ which is influenced by Jiangsu and Zhejiang cuisines. Shanghai’s chefs use more sugar than the other regions of China.


Pork dumpling (xiaolingbao) is Nanjing’s specialty. It is a kind of steamed bun served in traditional bamboo steam baskets. But don’t confuse it with the other type of dumping because xiaolingbao is ‘soup dumpling’. The chefs cleverly hide the soup which is made from pork skin gelatin inside the dumpling wrapper. Shanghainese have adjusted this food a little bit by adding some sugar to the filling.

Hong shao rou (Red-braised pork)

This food is relatively fatty since it contains pork belly. The meat is mixed with ginger, garlic, pepper, sugar, soy sauce, and Shaoxing wine. It is braised until the fat is gelatinous and the sauce becomes sticky. Hong shao rou is usually served with white rice.

Da Zha Xie (Steamed Hairy Crab)

The crabs are tied with ropes and steamed in bamboo baskets. The main purpose of this dish is to maintain the natural flavor of this nutritious seafood. The crabs are succulent and tender. This food is the most delicious in autumn. Don’t be confused if you don’t know how to eat it, ask a waiter for help.


Shanghai cuisines are all about pork dumplings. Shengjianbao is fattier than the normal dumplings since the bottom of the bun is pan-fried. Then, it is steamed to ensure a sticky top. When it is steamed, the pork filling is melted, which make the dumpling wrapper sweeter and juicier. It is somewhat a kind of soup dumpling, but Shengjianbao will create more appealing melt-in-the-mouth effects, especially when the weather is chilly.

Drunken Chicken

Drunken Chicken is one of the best cuisines in Shanghai. The chicken is poached with some seasonings such as scallions, ginger, and salt. Then it is marinated in Chinese wine sauce; this method makes the skin more crunchy and delicious. Drunken Chicken is served chilled and it has become a favorite food of those who visit Shanghai due to its unforgettable taste.

Mini wontons in soup

Ground meat, shrimps, and peppercorns are mixed and rolled in rice wrappers to make wontons. The broth is rich and sweet; the Shanghainese often add cilantro, dried shrimp and strips of egg to the broth. You can add vinegar or chili for stronger flavor. This food is usually served for breakfast, but you can try it for night-time snack as well.

Ba Bao La Jiang (Spicy Eight-treasure)

The name of this food is taken from the number of ingredients. Pork, tofu, mushrooms, snow peas, chestnuts, baby corn, chili, and peanuts are used to create a dedicated, crunchy and spicy dish. Vegetables and meat are stir-fried with seasonings, bean sauce, and chili sauce. You can eat Ba Bao La Jiang either with rice or noodles.

Famous restaurants in Shanghai

  • Old Shanghai Restaurant: NO.242, Fuyou Road
  • De Xing Restaurant: No.239, West Gaoqiao Road
  • Lv Bo Lang Restaurant: No.115, Yuyuan Road
  • Blue Sky Rotational: No. 161 Changle Road
  • Xiaoshaoxing Restaurant: No.118, South Yunnan Road
  • Wang Bao He Restaurant: No.603, Fuzhou Road
  • Yershari Xinjiang Style Restaurant: No. 106, Nandan East Road, Xuhui District