If you are arriving from other areas of China, be prepared to be astounded by the excellent diversity of food in Shanghai, with most Chinese regional cuisines represented, as well as an equally impressive range of foreign cuisine, including Brazilian, Indian, Japanese and European. It’s hard to believe that up until the early 1990s, simply getting a table in Shanghai was a cut-throat business.

Compared to, for example, Sichuan or Cantonese, Shanghai cuisine is not particularly well known or popular among foreigners. Most of the cooking is done with added ginger, sugar and Shaoxing wine, but without heavy spicing. There are some interesting dishes, especially if you enjoy exotic seafood. Fish and shrimp are considered basic to any respectable meal, and eels and crab may appear as well. In season (Oct–Dec), you may get the chance to try dazha crab, the most expensive and, supposedly, the most delicious. Inexpensive snack food is easily available in almost any part of the city at any time of night or day – try xiao long bao, a local dumpling speciality.

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