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Shanghai-Lights: Street Food

Street Food

Shanghai Noodles Cooking on a Cold January Day

50 Hours In Shanghai. You have to eat. As you saw on my pre-departure list of Must Dos, I wanted to eat at a dumpling stand.  This means Shanghai Street Food.  Our Cycle Shanghai tour guides were only too happy to oblige.  At around 13h30 we came across a small street utterly packed with food stalls.
The smells were amazing – you could smell the hot grease and a little spice. It was quite intoxicating.  We didn’t find anyone on this street who spoke English and none of the signs were in English either. While I think we could have ordered some food by pointing and confirming the number of items we wanted by counting on our fingers, we wouldn’t have really known what was in the dumpling: pork, shrimp, snout or foot.

Shanghai Street Food

We walked up and down this small street a few times before we made the decision that we wanted to try some fried tofu, stinky tofu, Shanghai noodles, soup dumplings and bao (meat encased in dough and fried). What’s not to love about these options, eh?

Snouts and other miscellany. We did not try these.

The bao and wontons were made fresh as you watched and were amazing.

Various noodle dishes. We opted for the traditional Shanghai noodles (middle).

A wide array of seafood – ready to be selected and prepared.

Our guide helping us place our lunch order.

Fried Tofu and Stinky Tofu

MS sitting on a squat stool enjoying our street food feast.

The steamed buns looked amazing, but we were absolutely stuffed after our amazing feast.

We were quite hungry when we sat on our squat stools and began eating.  Because everything looked so good,  we ordered too much food.  We ate only half of the Shanghai noodles (I found a very long hair wound around one of the noodles — no matter where I am in the world, once I see that I can’t eat any more of that item).

The fried tofu and stinky tofu were pretty tasty.  I’ve never had stinky tofu before and had heard that it was quite extreme.  I found the stuff we had to be tame.  It really wasn’t something that I loved and I probably wouldn’t SEEK it out again, but if I had the opportunity to eat it again, I wouldn’t shy away.

The bao were very good, although I don’t know exactly what was inside. They were perfectly brown on the bottom (fried) and soft and doughy on the top.  Great texture and also amazing flavor.

My favorite item today was the small soup wontons. While I was more familiar with the large soup wontons (which we didn’t get) these were basically the same thing, except they were bite size. A word of caution — the outside of the wonton may be cool, but the soup is still blazing hot and will destroy your mouth if not careful.  Be sure to take a little bite out of the top of the wonton to let some steam escape — then pop it all in your mouth.

I will admit, I was a little nervous eating this food. While hundreds of millions of Chinese eat like this every day – I do not. I was concerned that the conditions of the market may wreak havoc on my digestive system. I did come prepared with multiple forms of medicine on me that day. Above all, I’m happy to report we had no issues whatsoever.

First off, while I think you can easily order food (maybe not knowing what you are getting) and be perfectly happy, I think you’d have a hell of a time finding this little market on your own.  Take some time, find a guide and enjoy yourself.  Be sure to bring some Imodium (as you should on every trip) just in case.

Finally, when all was said and done, we spend about 15rmb or $2.50 for lunch this day. Two of us ate very well and had about 1/3 of the food we ordered left when we were finished.

Do you love Shanghai Street Food? What is your favorite thing to eat at a street market?  What was the most noteworthy thing you ate in Shanghai?  Above all else, what would you recommend?

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