City Guide - Shanghai - Dining
Refreshments and snacks from all over China and the world are available in Shanghai. Local snacks in Shanghai have their specialties and should not be missed. The following are some typical Shanghai snacks and recommended restaurants for your reference:
Nanxiang Steamed Stuffed Bun
Chinese name: 南翔小笼包 (nán xiáng xiǎo lóng bāo); 南翔小笼馒头 (nán xiáng xiǎo lóng mán tou) This snack is a famous and popular one originating from Nanxiang Town in the northern Jiading District of Shanghai. Dating back over 100 years, Nanxiang Steamed Stuffed Bun features the typical Shanghai flavor. It is famous for its thin wrap, big stuffing, strong flavor and tender meat.
Besides the use of refined flour and pork, Nanxiang Steamed Stuffed Bun has many special ingredients. Water, salt, sugar, soy, sesame and ginger are added to make the stuffing. Even without MSG, shallot or garlic, the buns stay fresh with a delicious flavor. The main pork stuffing is mixed with various seasonal ingredients: bamboo shoot for spring, shrimp for summer and crab for autumn. It's hard to believe that the stuffing is two times larger than the wrap. Miraculous, isn't it?
The prepared buns with translucent thin wraps are as small as water chestnuts. The appealing appearance of the buns may make you feel hungry. However, if you are hasty you will probably be hurt by the hot buns. Here are tips for tasting this snack: bite carefully, sip the soup and dip into special Zhenjiang vinegar. "Wow, yummy!" is then an understandable reaction.
The Hong Kong film Leaving Me Loving You, featuring Hong Kong pop stars Leon Lai and Faye Wong, made this snack known to a wider audience.
Chinese name: 蟹壳黄 (xiè ké huáng) This round yellow pastry looks like the shell of a cooked crab, therefore it is named Crab-Yellow Pastry. The main raw material for this snack is oil-mixed dough. The dough is split into small pieces, stuffed and squashed to form a flat round cake. It is then wrapped with a layer of sesame and finally baked in an oven.
The Crab-Yellow Pastry usually has a salty or sweet flavor. The salty pastries are stuffed with shallot oil, pork, crab or shrimp; the sweet ones with sugar, roses, sweetened bean paste or Chinese date paste.
The prepared pastries are crisp and tasty. As early as the beginning of 20th century, this snack prevailed in Shanghai's teahouses. Today the Crab-Yellow Pastry becomes increasingly popular with Shanghai locals.
Fried Stuffed Bun
Chinese name: 生煎馒头 (shēng jiān mán tou) Fried Stuffed Bun with nearly 100 years' history is a typical indigenous snack of Shanghai. The wraps of the buns are made of semi-fermented paste, and the stuffing is made of pork, shallot, ginger, soy, pepper, and sesame oil. The stuffed buns are put in rows in a big pan and fried, being sprayed with water several times during cooking. Finally, sesame and shallot are sprinkled on the buns, and then the wonderful Fried Stuffed Buns are prepared!
With a thin and soft wrap, a golden-colored and crispy bottom, and delicious meat, this snack tastes best when served hot.
Fried Stuffed Buns were first served in many teahouses in old Shanghai. Special fried stuffed bun restaurants began to appear in 1930s. At present, there are hundreds of such restaurants. The stuffing is varied to include chicken, crab and shrimp.