Text by: Amanda Hong
Caution: Drool-worthy content ahead
There are two types of people in the world: Chinese food lovers, and liars. We’re pretty sure that Chinese food holds a special place in everyone’s heart. Sad? Indulge in some dumplings. Happy? Celebrate with dumplings. There’s really no emotion it can’t fix.
As for today, we’re taking it back to its roots — the extraterrestrial street food of Shanghai, China. Being the buzzing city it is, snacks and street food are available on the street early in the morning, at metro stops, outside of schools and office buildings, and on the side streets till late at night.
With their exotic spicy, savoury, sweet, and tangy flavours, you’re certainly in for a treat. But for now, sit back, relax and brace yourselves to go beyond your typical Chinese take-out noodles or soup dumplings.
Think mooncakes… with a meat filling
If traditional mooncakes were made for people with a sweet tooth, then the Rou Yue Bing (⾁⽉饼) is for #TeamSavoury. Like a leveled up version of a ‘siew bao’, meat mooncakes are packed with juicy, bite-friendly meat wrapped with a pastry that’s slightly flaky but not too crumbly. These golden brown gems are also a delicacy of the Mid-Autumn Festival here in Shanghai.
Pan mee… but with scallion oil
Cong You Ban Mian (葱油拌面) which translates to Scallion Oil Noodles, may sound simple but it surely does pack a punch. It all boils down to the noodles — made with love, hand-pulled, blanched rapidly and rinsed to achieve that perfect bite. The noodles are dressed with scallion oil, which is basically made by frying scallions until they become dark, crispy shreds. But that’s not it — it’s also mixed with soy sauce, topped with both dried and fried shrimp, and you guessed it — scallions. Some people like to add a touch of black vinegar when they devour it but if you’re not a fan of that sour awakening, we won’t judge.
Kinda like pizza… but Chinese
Da Bing (大饼) essentially means big biscuit. It is a small round shaped, leavened or unleavened bread that is served in triangular slices, with a crisp bite followed by chewiness on the inside. This famous savoury Shanghainese breakfast (and snack) is usually topped with sesame seeds, scallions, or sometimes with a coat of spicy garlic sauce to give it that extra tang.
Tang yuan… with a meaty twist
Often eaten during the Winter Solstice Festival, Tang Yuans (汤圆) are usually filled with a sweet peanut or red bean filling. But there’s no such thing as holding back here in Shanghai — so they made them with a meat filling too, and we sure ain’t complaining. It’s a heavenly blend of savoury filling that consists of salted radish with pork, mushrooms, and dried shrimp. You’ll either love it, or hate it. We think the former.
You tiao… wrapped with rice
Shook from such an invention? Same. If you don’t know what a You Tiao is, it’s like a cross between a Churro and a breadstick. This wondrous work of art is known as Ci Fan Tuan (粢饭团), and it belongs within a quartet of famous Shanghai breakfast foods known as the “Four Big Warriors”. It mainly consists of steamed rice and You Tiao, of which comes in a sweet (sprinkled sugar) and savoury (pork floss, salted egg yolk) version — sign. us. up.
To sum it all up, going to Shanghai is just a food coma waiting to happen. We hope that made you hungry… for your next food venture.