soy sauce), stewed or simply stir-fried with ginger and spring onions. One of the city's most
iconic dishes is hong shao pork, fatty cubes of pork belly stewed in a soy sauce marinade
until they practically melt in the mouth.
Shanghai's famous flair is better revealed in its cold dishes. Expect artistically arranged
hors d'œuvres of dazzling variety, from plates of julienned vinegary pickles or tiny live
shrimps served in rice wine, to spiced broad beans, 'drunken' chicken marinated in wine, and
sweet wheat gluten (kao fu) .
As diners become more and more health-conscious, modern Shanghainese cuisine is
starting to veer away from its overly dark and oily origins, and dishes at upscale Shanghai
restaurants are less fatty and sweet than they once were. Meanwhile, the city is also starting
to embrace the more sophisticated cuisine of the Jiangnan region (literally, south of the
Yangtze River, encompassing Hangzhou, Suzhou, Ningbo and other surrounding cities),
which is lighter and brighter, with more of a reliance on freshness and quick cooking.
Vegetarians can find dining in regular Chinese restaurants a challenge, as even vegetable
dishes tend to be cooked in meat stock or contain small bits of meat. However, a number of
Buddhist restaurants, such as Vegetarian Lifestyle (Zaozi Shu), offer large menus of meat-
free Chinese dishes, often using tofu and mushrooms in ingenious ways to mimic typical
meat dishes. There's also an emerging trend toward vegetarian fine dining at elegant venues
like Fuhe Hui.
Eating in Shanghai is still refreshingly defined by the seasons, and the city's fresh
produce markets and corner fruit stores are the go-to places for raw ingredients.
These lively neighbourhood markets are far removed from the bland supermarket ex-
perience - be prepared to encounter just-plucked vegetables with muddy roots, huge
sides of pork, and still-splashing fish. Seasonal favourites to look out for include fat
bamboo shoots in spring, yangmei berries and juicy white peaches in summer, and
sweet miniature mandarins in winter.
Street food and dumplings
Shanghai dumplings are the city's favourite street food snack, and streetside stands are eas-
ily identified by their cylindrical bamboo steamers emitting fragrant puffs of steam.
Shanghai boasts two signature dumpling specialities: shengjian mantou are pan-fried in
giant, crusty black pans. Filled with pork and scalding broth with crispy bottoms, they are also
known by their English nickname, 'potstickers'. Xiaolongbao are smaller, more delicate
steamed dumplings that look like translucent money pouches and are filled with pork, broth