10 Foods and Drinks to Try When You Study Abroad in Shanghai

Jan 21, 2014 8:54:05 AM / by Stephanie Sadler

Studying abroad in Shanghai? One of the best ways to understand a place is through its food! Enjoy a taste of the local culture with our 10 food and drink recommendations below.

1. ROAST GOOSE. There are plenty of dishes in China based on fowl, but we will leave the Roast Duck for Beijing and the Salted Duck for Nanjing. For Shanghai, we recommend Roast Goose as having great flavor. One obvious place to try it is at the restaurant of same name - Roast Goose Restaurant, AnYuan Road, Jing An District in Puxi.

Roast Goose
Photo: Roast Goose by Jared Kelly

2. SAUTEED COD. There are many fish dishes to be found in Shanghai, reflecting its location - after all, Shanghai literally means the city "on the way to the sea". Try sauteed cod (already cut into pieces) with vegetables - an uncomplicated but tasty dish that can be found at the Soup Expert restaurant in the mall above the Apple Store on Shanghai's Nanjing Road Pedestrian Street.

Photo: Sauteed Cod in Shanghai by Colin Speakman

3. DOUBLE PEPPER FISH. This is a spicy dish for those who like to see the whole fish with eyes looking at you served on the plate. Watch out for little bones. It is Hunan style and popular in Shanghai. Try it at Di Shui Dong in Maoming Lu in Puxi.

Photo via Shanghaiist

4. SHANGHAI NOODLES. Plenty of places around Shanghai serve these noodles which are white, smooth, soft and springy to the bite. Usually they are accompanied by a variety of vegetable, meat or shrimp. It is a simple and affordable dish. Find some at the well-reviewed Noodle Bull on Fumin Road near Jing An Temple.

Shanghai Noodles
Photo: Shanghai Noodles by Matt

5. SHANGHAI BOK CHOY. A local favorite carrying the city's name, this dish has a Chinese cabbage, sweet, crispy and juicy. It is often served over steamed rice and can also be combined with the Shanghai noodles pictured above. Shanghai Bok Choy is available in many places and you can find it on Chinese lunch menus at Western Restaurants such Malone's on Tongren Road in Puxi.

Photo: Shanghai's Bok Choy over rice by Colin Speakman

6. HAIRY CRAB. In season, it is claimed that every Shanghai tourist should try a hairy crab. This means the 9th and 10th months of the Lunar calendar (Autumn). The best taste comes from the best quality large female crabs with a sauce of rice vinegar, sugar and ginger to dip the crabs into. They're not cheap, but on a nice occasion try them at Cheng Long Hang Crab Palace in Jiujiang Road, near Henan Zhong Road.

Hairy crab - a Shanghai favorite
Photo: Hairy crab by China Supertrends

7. SOFT SHELL TURTLE SOUP. Another dish you might expect given Shanghai's location, soft shell turtle soup claims medicinal life-lengthening properties, boosting of the blood circulatory system and kidney function. It is highly nutritious. Try a bowl at Xinxiangweilou on Dingxi Road near West Yan'an Road.

Photo: Turtle soup via Cultural China

8. JAPANESE HIBACHI COOKING. This is a way of eating rather than a specific dish and having the food cooked in front of you on a hot steel table top is popular with locals. Many meats, fowl and fish can be cooked this way and, for a spectacular dessert dish, try the flaming banana fritters. Take your seat (for 150 rmb to 200 rmb all you can eat) at Tairyo on Dongping Road or Ruijin Yi Road or Hongxu Road, all in Puxi.

Photo: Japanese hibachi cooking by Colin Speakman

9. TEA-EGG AND OTHER SNACK FOODS. Unlike Beijing, Shanghai's main areas are not teaming with street food vendors, but many convenience stores have snack food sections where boiled Tea-Egg is popular. Try this and other snacks at branches of Family Mart all over Shanghai (there are two at the junction of Wuning Nan Road and Wuding Xi Road, Jing An District). The stores have a small amount of dining-in space.

Photo: Tea-eggs by Colin Speakman

10. LONGJING GREEN TEA. Shanghai borders on Zhejiang Province, with the capital Hangzhou famous for tea. An easily "imported" Shanghai favorite is Longjing tea (Dragon Well tea) roasted early after picking and producing leaves that can be used in tea flasks, refilled many times without loss of quality. For a value drink try it in the Te Li Ming Tea House in Luxin Park, HongKou - opposite CAPA's Shanghai program campus. See CAPA's 10 Hidden Gems in Shanghai.

龍井茶 Longjing tea
Photo: Longjing Tea by KUMI

Leave us a comment and let us know your favorite food or drink in Shanghai.

Topics: Shanghai, China