One of my favorite parts about living in Shanghai was the street food. It was convenient, cheap, and really delicious. Eating street food is part of the experience of living in or visiting Shanghai. There’s tons of options to choose from and while street food can be high in calories, the price is light on your wallet. Here are a few of my favorite Shanghai street foods.
Xiao long bao are the signature street food of Shanghai. While they look like steam buns, they have a soupy filling on the inside that can be a bit of a surprise if you’re not expecting it. They are small morsels of deliciousness filled with pork and a soupy filling that is hearty and delicious. You can find them all over Shanghai and if you want to get fancy you can find them at restaurants such as the well-known Taiwanese restaurant, Din Tai Fung, which is famous for its xiao long bao.
Steam buns are also ubiqitious throughout the city and unlike xiao long bao, they lack a broth-like filling, but come with so many inside options. You can get plain steam buns without any fillings or you can get a steam bun loaded with everything from vegetables and bean curd to spicy pork. Steam buns can be found everywhere and are cheap. Their portability means they are the breakfast of choice for many Shanghainese.
I encountered tea eggs for the first time when I was at a Family Mart (convenience store) in Taiwan. I saw a bunch of eggs in a crockpot of brown liquid and it didn’t appeal to me at all. When I arrived in Shanghai I felt the same way and stayed away from tea eggs for the longest time. It wasn’t until another teacher convinced me they were actually quite tasty that I decided to give them a try. I learned the eggs are boiled in tea and a five-spice powder that brings out the yolks flavor. When I finally tried them I was impressed. They are inexpensive, taste good, and are a great source of protein. Compared to other fried street foods, tea eggs are also a healthier choice.
One of my favorite breakfast foods in the world are breakfast burritos. Shanghai egg pancakes come close to replicating my favorite breakfast food, as it’s a thin pancake topped with egg, green onions, cilantro, and some chili sauce, and wrapped in burrito-like form. Egg pancakes are surprising filling and cheap and are great to have if you’re ever hungover.
Meat on a stick is a very popular and easy-to-find street food in Shanghai. You select the type of meat you want (pork, chicken, lamb, hot dog) and watch as the vendor dips it in spices and cooks it right in front of you. Meat on a stick is delicious and portable, as you can enjoy it while walking and taking in the sights.
So there you have it, my five favorite Shanghai street foods. If you want to learn more about my Shanghai journey click here.