It is frustrating to visit a new and exotic city like Shanghai and then only find international and foreign cuisine listed on most travel cites and in the local English-language magazines and newspapers. For anyone who wants to experience Shanghai food, or at least Chinese food, while in China here are a few suggestions for the best local food in the city.
Shanghai food is known as sea food in many places, but most locals don’t actually partake in that cuisine due to the cost. You’ll find several expensive ‘Shanghai’ restaurants that sell lobster, shrimp and sea fish, but you’re likely to only see foreigners or rich Chinese dining inside. Instead, try one of the recommended restaurants here for amazing Chinese food.
Dong Bei Ren is a restaurant with food from northern China, but with a Shanghai twist. You’ll find noodles, breads and meats famous in the north, but also a bit of sea food and rice dishes native to Shanghai. You’ll find a great array of vegetable dishes and the atmosphere at Dong Bei Ren is fantastically fun. This isn’t pure Shanghai food, but it is Chinese local food and one of the most popular eateries in the city for mid-range Chinese chow.
Di Shui Dong is another local favorite, and you’ll be hard pressed to find a spot in this casual, if not entirely down-to-earth, eatery without a reservation. Though the food is from Hunan (not Shanghai) you’ll find locals adore the extra spice and flavor that comes with Hunan cuisine. Especially famous are the vegetable dishes, which are innovative and fresh compared to the normal fare you’ll find at local hubs.
Mei Long Zhen is the most famous Shanghai restaurant for local cuisine. The site is important even without the excellent braised beef and steamed vegetable dishes, as the building once housed the HQ for the Chinese Communist Party. As such, it is a historical site as well as a restaurant. The atmosphere and ambiance are well worth the visit, though with the cost it is probably a one-time event for most tourists.
For anyone who doesn’t know or can’t tell the difference between Chinese food from different areas in China, a tour of these three regional restaurants will demonstrate how diverse Chinese food really is.