11 top snacking options in Shanghai
Shanghai loves to snack. We’re not talking a “bag of Lay’s Potato Chips” kind of noshing; we’re talking plenty of freshly made mini meals that really fill us up. So, we’ve scoured the city to bring you the 11 most delicious, most local, and cheapest eats in Shanghai.
While these local snacks -- which are usually served up in the now iconic plastic bag -- won’t break your wallets, we can’t guarantee they won’t break your belts, but that’s a whole other article.
Shanghai cheap eat no. 1: Fried niurou baozi
Why we love it: What could be better than the already loved steamed boazi? A fried one, of course. And in a city that likes to fry, it is no wonder these are a perfect Shanghainese snack. Filled with succulent halal beef, they are outrageously delicious.
Where to get it: These are served up just outside the mosque on Changde Lu during the street’s Friday Muslim Market for just RMB 1. But be warned, they sell out well before the one o’clock prayer service.
Changde Lu in between Yishang Lu and Aomen Lu
Shanghai cheap eat no. 2: Street noodles
Why we love it: These are the single best way to soak up some liquid from a hard night out (RMB 4). Maybe it’s the MSG or the high sodium, but whatever the reason, these bowls of made-to-order noodles are addictively tasty.
Where to get it: We think the best ones during the daylight hours are just outside the front gates of East China Normal University. And we're willing to bet that every student there agrees.
3663 Zhongshan Bei Lu, near Jinjiashang Lu
Shanghai cheap eat no. 3: Yang’s Fried Dumpling
Why we love it: While the original post of Yang’s has closed, they are still frying the best shengjian in town at their second location down the block. RMB 4.5 gets you four fried, greasy, and scallion scattered dumplings. There’s never a bad time to eat this snack.
Where to get it: The cleaner version of the once authentic Wujiang Lu stall has moved further west on the same road. Although now in a mall, the new Yang’s will not disappoint -- and they have the crowds to prove it.
2/F, 269 Wujiang Lu, near Taixing Lu
Shanghai cheap eat no. 4: Sweet potatoes
Why we love it: Sweet, fluffy, and fibrous, these steamed sweet potatoes are a nice contrast to most Shanghai cheap eats. Usually sold out of a pushcart until summer, they are one of the healthiest snacks in town.
Where to get it: We ran into a vendor pushing her carton Dongping Lu. “I go wherever the crowd is," she told us. So our advice is to find a crowd, and try and track down this RMB 3-7 (based on weight) snack.
Shanghai cheap eat no. 5: Niurou mian
Why we love it: Bowls of beef noodle soup are full meals in themselves. Boasting braised slices, cubes, or minced pieces of beef, this soup is Chinese comfort food at its best. The ones here run around RMB 7-8.50.
Where to get it:
We like to slurp at the open-air stall on the corner of Xikang Lu and Xinfeng Lu. If you complain that you have to sit outside when it’s raining, no soup for you.
Corner of Xinfeng Lu and Xikang Lu
Shanghai cheap eat no. 6: Kebabs
Why we love it: Few things taste better at four in the morning than a few grilled kebabs. Our favorite is of course the yang rou chuan -- lamb kebabs. Perfectly seasoned with cumin and paprika, they make for a perfect ending to any night out.
Where to get it: If you’re not outside MAO at 4am, fear not, for our favorite stall is opened during daylight hours. On the corner of Wulumuqi Lu and Yuyuan Access Lu, they grill some pretty mean lamb for around RMB 2 per stick.
Corner of Yuyuan Access Lu and Wulumuqi Lu
Shanghai cheap eat no. 7: Xiaolongbao
Why we love it: RMB 4 usually gets you a Styrofoam container of eight of these velvety and delicate Shanghai classics. The cure for any hunger pain, these are seriously good.
Where to get it: Everywhere. That is the greatest thing about xiaolongbao -- they can be ordered at five star restaurants, malls, food courts, and street stalls. Our favorite, though, are from the stall on the corner of Yunnan Nan Lu and Jinling Dong Lu.
Corner of Yunnan Nan Lu and Jinling Dong Lu
Shanghai cheap eat no. 8: Mo “sandwiches”
Why we love it: Pick your meat, and then add the veggies you want -- we love the pulled chicken for RMB 5 with cilantro, lettuce, and plenty of chili sauce. The buns are steamed, split open, then stuffed with the most tasty meat and veggie mix.
Where to get it: For some reason, Caoxi Bei Lu, from Ikea to just about Lingling Lu is full of these stalls. Our favorite is just near the metro entrance of Shanghai Stadium.
126 Caoxi Lu, near Sanhui Lu (Ikea)
Shanghai cheap eat no. 9: Shanghai First Food Mall
Why we love it: An entire mall devoted to cheap eats -- what’s not to love? When in need of a cheap xiaochi, this place has got us covered.
Where to get it: While we don’t necessarily suggest trekking all the way out to Fudan University just to ogle at all the edible items at this mall, we do suggest checking it out if you’re already in the area and need a delicious study break.
600 Handan Lu, near Guoji Lu
Shanghai cheap eat no. 10: Red bean pastries
Why we love it: For something sweet, we cannot get enough of these RMB 1 red bean pastries that will satisfy even your sweetest of teeth.
Where to get it: Although offered at many bakeries and pastry shops, we like ours fried right off the street. We think some of the best are offered at a little unmarked stand on the corner of Xikang Lu and Nanyang Lu.
102 Xikang Lu, near Nanyang Lu
Shanghai cheap eat no. 11: Stinky tofu
Why we love it: You know you are becoming a true Shanghailander when you start craving these eats. Once we got over the initial shock of the stench of the snack we found the tofu clean and silky. And four for just RMB 1 -- we’d be crazy not to love these.
Where to get it: Our two favorite cares are under the Wuning Lu Bridge, near the entrance to Carrefour, and on Yunnan Nan Lu.
20 Wuning Lu, near Changshou Lu 武宁路20号 近长寿路 (Carrefour)