Shanghai cuisine, known as Hu Cai, includes two styles: Benbang cuisine and Haipai cuisine. Benbang cuisine, meaning local cuisine, is the traditional family-style food that has been popular in Shanghai for the past 100 years. Haipai cuisine, which embraces all cultures, adapts foods from other regions of China and the West to suit local tastes.
About Shanghai Food
Shanghai cuisine uses a lot of alcohol, and “drunken” options are common on menus. Fish, crab and chicken are doused with spirits and then briskly cooked, steamed or served raw. Salt and sugar, especially in combination with soy sauce, are other common ingredients. Seafood, like crabs, oysters and seaweed, is very popular. Shanghai is known for its small portions, so you may want to order some appetizers.
5 Must-Try Foods
Unless you are extremely adventurous you may want to skip the stinky tofu, but there are plenty of other delicious dishes for you to try.
- Xiaolong bao. This delicacy, sometimes known as Shanghai dumplings, is a type of steamed bun that is filled with pork or minced crab and soup. They are steamed in bamboo baskets and served with black vinegar and, sometimes, shredded ginger. People often bite the top off, suck out the soup and then dip the bun in vinegar. Nan Xiang Xiaolong Mantou is more than 100 years old and has some great ones. Also, Crystal Jade Restaurant is known for its xiaolong bao as well.
- Shanghai fried noodles. A regional variant of chow mein that is made with Shanghai-style thin noodles, which are stir-fried with beef cutlets, cabbage or spinach and onion. Some of the best can found at Autumn Dragon, but you can find delicious ones in many places in the city.
- Shanghai hairy crab. This is the most notable local delicacy. These little crabs have a sweet flesh that is difficult to get to but worth it. They are available from September to December. Jesse, a Shanghai institution, has many great dishes, including hairy crab.
- Champagne brunch. Champagne brunches illustrate Shanghai decadence. Waiters pour endless champagne and offer a spread of 100-plus dishes from all over the world. Almost every five-star hotel has one, but some of the best are at the Westin, Jade on 36 and Yi Cafe at Shangri La.
- Di Shui Dong ribs. These ribs fall of the bone because they are so tender. They are sweetly braised in soy sauce. Some of the best can be found at Yuan Yuan.
5 Must-Try Restaurants
- A Shan restaurant. A local couple has owned this spot for 30 years. A Shan focuses on traditional Shanghai homestyle cooking. Some popular dishes are stir-fried mashed eel, cucumber with shrimp, plum jam and rice steamed with lard.
- Xindalu China Kitchen. Here you can enjoy a great view with your meal. A variety of cuisines are represented: Beijing, Shanghai, Suzhou and Hangzhou. The roast duck, braised pork chop, gold tower meat and smoked fish are delicious.
- M on the Bund. Dine on world-class cuisine at this 7th-floor restaurant with an open-air balcony overlooking the Huangpu River. M on the Bund specializes in dishes with a mixture of Middle Eastern and European flavour.
- Jishi. This restaurant offers no-frills, home-style cooking. The place is tiny and always busy. Fish smothered in scallions, crab with vermicelli sheets and minced dried tofu with wild greens are delicious.
- Lu Bo Lang. Many foreign leaders and visitors favour this old restaurant in the Old Town God Temple area. It serves famous local Benbang cuisine and dim sums. The steamed-crab stuffed bun, crab bean curd and Mei Mao Su are all recommended.
Now that your mouth is watering, you’ll want to plan a trip to Shanghai (visit site). If you want to avoid crowds, the best time to go is late March or early October and November.
About the Author: Nadir Lodi is a chef, who loves to travel and sample foods from around the world. Although his options are many, he uses http://www.expedia.co.in to arrange his travels.