Shanghai cuisine
Hu cuisine
Simplified Chinese沪菜
Traditional Chinese滬菜
Skewered quail is a common street food in Qibao Town, Shanghai.

Shanghai cuisine (Chinese: 上海菜; pinyin: Shànghǎi cài; Shanghainese: zaon⁶ he⁵ tshe¹; IPA: [zɑ̃¹¹ he⁴⁴ tsʰᴇ¹¹]), also known as Hu cuisine (simplified Chinese: 沪菜; traditional Chinese: 滬菜; pinyin: Hù cài; Shanghainese: wu⁶ tshe¹; IPA: [ɦu¹¹ tsʰᴇ⁴⁴]), is a popular style of Chinese food. In a narrow sense, Shanghai cuisine refers only to what is traditionally called Benbang cuisine (本帮菜; 本幫菜; Běnbāng cài; pen⁵ paon¹ tshe⁵; 'local cuisine') which originated in Shanghai. In a broader sense, it refers to complex styles of cooking developed under the influence of neighboring Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces.

The dishes within the cuisine need to master the three elements of "color, aroma, and taste" (色香味).[clarification needed] Like other cuisines within China, Shanghai cuisine emphasizes the use of seasonings, the quality of raw ingredients, and preserving the original flavors of ingredients. The adoption of Western influence in Shanghai cuisine resulted in a unique cooking style known as Haipai cuisine (海派菜).

Characteristic features

Shanghai cuisine is characterized by its use of soy sauce, which gives dishes a red and shiny appearance. Both dark soy sauce and regular soy sauce are used in Shanghai cooking. Dark soy sauce creates a dark amber color in dishes, while regular soy sauce enhances the flavor. The four classic words used to describe Shanghai food are "浓油赤酱", which means that Shanghai food uses a considerable amount of oil and soy sauce. Dishes are prepared using various methods, such as baking, stewing, braising, steaming, and deep-frying. Seafood is also a prominent feature of Shanghai cuisine, with fish, crab, and chicken being made "drunken" using spirits and brisk cooking techniques. Salted meats and preserved vegetables are commonly used to enhance various dishes. Additionally, sugar plays an important role in Shanghai cuisine when used in combination with soy sauce. Rice is more commonly served than noodles or other wheat products.

Shanghai cuisine aims to emphasize the original flavors of raw ingredients while utilizing condiments to enhance the taste. Compared to other Chinese cuisines, it has a mellower and slightly sweet taste. Sweet and sour is a typical Shanghai taste. Presentation is also a key aspect of Shanghai cuisine, with ingredients being meticulously cut and arranged to create a harmonious color scheme.

Interestingly, in the early 20th century, Shanghai families did not regularly include fish in their daily meals despite the city being a port town. Meat was considered a luxury, and meals typically consisted of vegetables, beans, and rice. Families would only consume meat or fish four times a month, on the second, eighth, sixteenth, and twenty-third days, which were known as dang hun. Today, with greater awareness of nutrition, there is a higher demand for low-sugar and low-fat foods, and more vegetables are being incorporated into diets to promote healthier eating habits.


This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (December 2019)

Shanghai cuisine is the youngest of the ten major cuisines of China, although it still has more than 400 years of history. Traditionally called Benbang cuisine, it originated in the Ming and Qing dynasties (c. 1368–1840). During the reign of Emperor Jiaqing and Emperor Guangxu of the Qing Dynasty, a food stall was set up in the old city of Shanghai called "Shovel Bang" (铲刀帮).[citation needed] After 1930, as Shanghai's industry and commerce rapidly developed, the main customers of Benbang cuisine were an emerging class of workers. As a result, the proportion of inexpensive dishes in Benbang cuisine began to decrease.

In the later part of the 19th century, after Shanghai became a major domestic and international trading port, Benbang dishes underwent substantial change. After the opening of Shanghai port in 1843, sixteen different catering schools opened in Shanghai.[citation needed] Anhui cuisine was the first to gain popularity in Shanghai, followed by Suxi cuisine, Cantonese cuisine, Huaiyang cuisine, and Beijing cuisine. In the 1930s, Suxi cuisine was prevalent in almost half of Shanghai's restaurants. Guangdong cuisine was highly popular among both residents of Shanghai and foreigners. As a result of adopting influences from other cuisines, the flavors of Shanghai cuisine became more complex.[1]

Western influence in Shanghai cuisine resulted in the development of a unique cooking style known as Haipai cuisine (海派菜). At the time, eating Western food was considered fashionable, but Chinese people initially struggled to adapt to certain aspects of Western cuisine, such as rare steak. Western food in Shanghai was influenced by many countries but formed its own distinct characteristics. Russian Shanghai Western food, which typically included one main dish and one soup (such as borscht, bread and butter), became particularly popular in Shanghai due to its economic benefits.[clarification needed] Before 1937, there were over 200 Western restaurants in Shanghai, particularly on Xiafei Road and Fuzhou Road.[2]

Nowadays, Shanghai's traditional cuisine is usually found only in home-cooked meals and some old Benbang restaurants. Shanghai is now more famous for its numerous exotic restaurants, especially those serving Japanese and French food.[3]

Notable dishes in Shanghai cuisine


Breakfast food in Shanghai is varied and contains foods mainly made from wheat, rice, and flour. Many of them are influenced by Cantonese, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang cuisine, and through historical precipitation[clarification needed], these breakfasts have slowly become favorites of people in Shanghai today. The most classic Shanghai breakfast is called "The Four Warriors" (四大金刚; 四大金剛; Sìdà Jīngāng; sy⁵ du⁶ cin¹ kaon¹). These are the four most popular breakfast choices for Shanghainese.[4]


Shanghai hairy crab's original taste is best preserved with steaming.

Seafood is commonly seen in Shanghai cuisine. These are some popular dishes.

Meat and poultry

Fried noodles with bok choy and pork with a soy sauce base



Xiaolongbao, a type of steamed bun from the Jiangnan region



See also


  1. ^ 网易 (2019-09-04). "寻味上海① | 我们查了查本帮菜的户口簿,发现了它的祖宗。". Retrieved 2022-04-22.
  3. ^ "上海故事 | "吃西菜到红房子":海派西餐那些事_湃客_澎湃新闻-The Paper". Retrieved 2022-04-22.
  4. ^ "The Breakfast Foods You Have to Try in Shanghai". Saveur. 2018-11-13. Retrieved 2022-04-22.
  5. ^ a b c d Deason, Rachel (14 February 2017). "Traditional Shanghainese Dishes You Must Try". Culture Trip. Retrieved 2019-12-15.
  6. ^ Lee, Jesse (2008), 上海味兒, 旗林文化, ISBN 978-986-6655-14-2
  7. ^ "The That's Guide to Gorging on Shanghai Hairy Crab". Archived from the original on 11 April 2019. Retrieved 10 August 2019.
  8. ^ "Zoobenthos Archived 2015-01-09 at the Wayback Machine". The Shanghai Jiuduansha Wetland Nature Reserve (Shanghai), 2014.
  9. ^ 名家名菜—松鼠鳜鱼. Archived from the original on 28 August 2019. Retrieved 28 August 2019.
  10. ^ 上海糖醋小排. Archived from the original on 29 August 2019. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  11. ^ "Shanghai Fried Noodles (Cu Chao Mian)". The Woks of Life. 2014-12-14. Retrieved 2020-09-30.
  12. ^ Tan, Tony. "Shanghai-style chilled noodles recipe". Gourmet Traveller. Retrieved 2020-09-30.
  13. ^ "Shanghai-Style Red Vegetable Soup (罗宋汤 - Luo Song Tang)". The Woks of Life. 2018-10-27. Retrieved 2022-04-23.
  14. ^ a b Wei, Clarissa (2017-04-27). "A Guide to 14 of the Most Iconic Foods in Shanghai". Vice. Retrieved 2019-12-15.
  15. ^ "7 Types Of Chinese Dumplings In Shanghai: Dumpling Guide". 2 June 2020. Retrieved 21 December 2020.
  16. ^ "Shanghai Savory Mooncakes (Xian Rou Yue Bing)". The Woks of Life. 2015-09-19. Retrieved 2022-04-23.