Dining in Shanghai

Meilongzhen Restaurant, Shanghai
Shanghai cuisine, also known as Hu cuisine, is a style of Chinese cuisine, and is a popular and celebrated cuisine among the Chinese in China.
 
Shanghai does not have a definitive cuisine of its own, but refines those of the surrounding provinces (mostly from adjacent Jiangsu and Zhejiang coastal provinces). What can be called Shanghai cuisine is epitomized by the use of a kind of alcohol (Huangjiu or Shaoxingjiu). Fish, eel, crab, and chicken are "drunken" with spirits and usually served raw. Salted meats and preserved vegetables are also commonly used to spice up the dish.
 
The use of sugar is common in Shanghai cuisine and, especially when used in combination with soy sauce, effuses foods and sauces with a taste that is not so much sweet but rather savory. Non-natives tend to have difficulty identifying this usage of sugar and are often surprised when told of the "secret ingredient." The most notable dish of this type of cooking is "sweet and sour spare ribs" ("tangcu xiaopai" in Chinese).
 
"Red cooking" is a popular style of stewing meats and vegetables associated with Shanghai.
 
"Beggar's Chicken" ("jiaohu ji" in Chinese) is a legendary dish wrapped in lotus leaves, covered in clay and oven baked to steamy, tasty perfection - in olden times, it was baked in the ground. Lime-and-ginger-flavoured "1,000-year-old" eggs are another popular Shanghainese creation. The braised meat ball and the Stinky Tofu are also uniquely Shanghainese.
 
Facing the East China Sea, seafood in Shanghai is very popular. Locals though favor freshwater fish just as much as saltwater products like crabs, oysters, and seaweed. The most famous local delicacy is Shanghai hairy crab. Dazha xie (hairy crabs), best eaten in the winter months (Oct-Dec) and paired with Shaoxing wine to balance out your yin and yang
 
Xiefen shizitou (crab powder lion heads), actually pork meatballs containing crab meat
zui ji (drunken chicken), chicken steamed then marinated in rice wine, usually served cold
 
Shanghai people are known to eat very little (which makes them a target of mockery from other Chinese), and hence the servings are usually quite small. A famous snack in Shanghai, in Mandarin: Xiao Long Bao (literally: "small steamer buns;" in the local Shanghainese dialect: "sho lonpotsi" or "sho lonmeudou") cooked in a small bamboo steamer, is now popularized throughout China as a Dim Sum. Xiao Long Bao, sometimes referred to as a soup dumpling, is a small meat-filled steamed bun unique because it contains soup stock, adding a sensual, surprising effect when eaten.
 
Shanghainese restaurant menus will sometimes have a dessert section.
 
Due to the rapid growth of Shanghai and its development into one of the foremost East Asian cities as a center of both finance and contemporary culture, the future of Shanghai cuisine looks very promising.
 
Shanghai Snack Foods
 
Sheng Jian ("Sangji" - in Shanghainese)
Locals often go to "Xiao Yang Sheng Jian", which is a tiny little stall which sells pork buns, for the best xiaolongbao (small steamer bun). It also sells other types of dumplings, such as Sheng Jian Bao (literally "fried bun") and Guo Tie (fried jiaozi), all eaten dipped in black vinegar.
 
Shanghainese also eat youtiao, a bread-like food that is deep fried in oil until crisp and is eaten in all parts of China.
 
Typical Shanghainese breakfast
In Shanghainese cuisine, Cifantuan is sometimes consumed together with soy milk as breakfast.
 
One of the local favourites in Shanghai is Shanghai crispy chicken. Crispy chicken is made by first boiling the body of a chicken until its flesh is tender, then roasting it for long periods of time or until the skin goes dry and crispy.