A city so modern, yet historic and traditional. Steam and various smells rising from street food stalls. Skyscrapers rising out of the smog. Shanghai isn’t known as a tourist city – which is most blatantly obvious in the difference in amount of people walking around during the week compared to the weekend. There aren’t tourists throughout the week, so the weekend, when Shanghainese are out and about, is VERY noticeably busier. While you shouldn’t come to Shanghai specifically for the tourism, you definitely should come for the food. But prepare to eat A LOT of bread products.

What to eat


Pillows of happiness, as Anthony Bourdain described them. This is quentissential Shanghai cuisine. Pork soup dumplings are an art to eat correctly, without either pouring all the soup out first or burning your tongue.

Where to eat them?

  • Paradise Dynasty
    • Get the variety, where each color is a different flavor (featured image). My favorites were the original and foie gras, but there are also cheese, garlic, truffle, etc. This was my favorite xiaolongbao place I tried.
  • Din Tai Fung
    • A famous chain from Taiwan, with a few spots on the West Coast of the U.S., you can’t go wrong with Din Tai Fung. All the pictures above are from here.


Pan-fried pork dumplings, topped with sesame seeds. Another specialty of Shanghai.

Where to eat them?

  • Da Hu Chun
    • There are multiple locations – one near People’s Park and one near Yuyuan Garden.
    • The original pork and pork/shrimp are both great.
    • They also have a good wonton soup.

What else to eat

Lost Heaven

The gravitational pull of white people in Shanghai, Lost Heaven specializes in Yunnan food – cuisine from the Yunnan region in Southern China, on the border with Myanmar and Laos. This province has the largest number of ethnic minority groups in China, which is represented in the diversity of its food. A spicy chicken salad, a Chinese pork tamale. This cuisine is much more meat heavy than its noodle and vegetable-based eastern counterparts. Pu’er tea, the sought-after fermented black tea, also comes from Yunnan.

Lost Heaven is on the Bund (West side of the river) and often requires reservations. Great atmosphere and delicious food, so worth a visit.

Street food

Rice wrapped in bamboo leaf. Pork fat wrapped in bamboo leaf. Little chickens. Some other stuff I can’t really explain… I barely touched the surface of Shanghai street cuisine.

What to do when you aren’t eating

While there aren’t as many touristy things to do in Shanghai, you’ll definitely want more time here in order to eat.

  • Zhujiajiao
    • A well-preserved historic town 1 hr west of downtown, it’s called the ‘Venice of Shanghai.’ While you can pay $12 for a boat ride and entrance into attractions, it’s just as nice to walk around for free, explore the shops, and weave your way through Chinese tour bus groups. However, if you go into one attraction, it should be the gardens/villa on the north of town. Get here early before the crowds arrive, right at 8:30am, so you can explore the gardens on your own.
  • Walk along the Bund
  • Yuyuan Market
    • Next to the gardens. Cute architecture. Lots of shops and food. Particularly nice with the New Year lanterns/decorations.
  • Propaganda Poster Art Centre
    • Still so curious how the Chinese government FUNDS this museum and SUPPORTS it.
  • Art museums
    • MoCA
    • Power Station of Art
    • Long Museum West Bund
    • Yuz Museum
    • M50 contemporary art galleries
  • Drinks with a view of the Bund and/or Pudong
    • Ritz
    • Daimon Gastrolounge
    • M on the Bund

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