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Shanghai-Best Street Food Area?

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What's the best area in Shanghai for concentrated street food vendors/stalls? Looking for that Anthony Bourdain goes to nightmarket experience where I'll be able to eat at lots of different stalls, where each stall sells pretty much one item that they do extremely well.

Is it Wujiang Food Street?
Yunnan Food Street?
Someplace in a shopping mall?

Thanks in advance!

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  1. Wujiang lu is your best bet. But go quickly. I belive the area is being demolished and gentrified

    1. Don't want to burst your bubble, but you may be thinking of Singapore, not Shanghai. That hawker atmosphere is decidedly absent from Shanghai.

      The closest you'll get is Wujiang Lu - enter from Shimen Yi Lu, and about 5 stores in, on the right hand (south) side of the street, there's a good pork potsticker stall, but only when they're fresh. Continue up the street, and when it gets a kink and turns slightly to the left, you're at the Xi Bei something (forgot the third character) BBQ, which is the most popular on the street. And just further up, on the left hand side, is the famous Xiao Yang's shengjianbao, shallow fried pork dumplings with a thick, bready skin.

      1 Reply
      1. re: st cavish

        ummm ... xiaoyang shengjianbao ... slobber slobber

      2. There are a few "food streets" but not as vibrant and ghetto as you may expect. However, I have found a few local food streets that got me excited.

        My favourite is on Lou Shan Kuan Lu, a block or two north of the LouShanKuanLu Station on the green line. Just a cluster of small shops close to the market, but had the best soup noodle here.

        Also on Urumqi Lu, there is an area with many tiny stores and food vendors.

        Yunnan Food Street is fun, they say Shaoxin restaurant is the best...its alright...i like the atmosphere of selling raw food on the streets.

        Wujiang Food Street (Street down Shimen Yi Lu) is being invaded by tons of tourists/foreigners, but still has that bustling feeling you may be looking for.

        Happy eatings!

        9 Replies
        1. re: RHplus

          Are you referring to Xiao Shaoxing restaurant in Yunnan Lu? For sitdowners on that street I also recommend Xiandelai at #12 Yunnan Lu for "paigu niangao" (pork chops over rice pasta smothered in red sauce "gravy") and Xaio Jinling for Nanjing Salted Duck and the tofu-bean thread soup. I can't find the address for Xiao Jinling but it's also on Yunnan Lu in the immediate vicinity.

          1. re: RHplus

            I tried the third floor of Xiao Shaoxing on Yunnan Lu for dinner last night and Shanghai boiled chicken on the first floor for lunch, today. The dishes I tried upstairs were not amazing, though they were refreshingly simple in flavor and free of MSG (at least as far as I could detect). We had sliced marinated tongue; cold, crisp squash with a hint of hot peppers; marinated hard boiled egg; braised dongu mushrooms over baby bok choy and Singapore-style curry rice vermicelli noodles with beef tendon. All dishes were fair except for the Singapore-style noodles, which were pretty bad, tasting as though curry powder had been mixed into the dish after the remainder had been cooked.

            Today's lunch was better. The texture of the chicken was enjoyable, firmer than the typical mass-produced chicken in the U.S., but I'm not sure it was so clearly superior to chickens one can buy at Chinese markets almost anywhere in the city. Flavors were, again, refreshingly clear and simple, without MSG as far as I could tell -- but they were not as deliciously concentrated as they would be in Hainanese chicken. The garlic / green onion garnish with soy sauce is the perfect accompaniment, though. I also attempted to order chicken congee, but didn't know how to ask for it in Mandarin. My request for "xi fan" made out of chicken broth earned me only plain xi fan with a drizzle of brown gravy over top and bits of scallion -- not bad for what it was, but probably not the congee the restaurant is known for.

            1. re: cimui

              Xiao Shaoxing's chicken congee is called just that, "ji zhou" (zhou is the same word as "jook" in Cantonese. Here's a recipe (in Chinese) http://is.gd/wn1I

              1. re: Xiao Yang

                thanks so much for the name, xiao yang. the irony is that i've actually made the stuff; i just don't know how to ask for it. :)

            2. re: RHplus

              Donyuhuang Lu is pretty vibrant and ghetto... Go out at 6:00am and you find nearly every housewife on the block washing their clothing in a bucket on the street. It's more of a day time and early morning food market, but it kicks up on weekend nights.

              Good XLB place, fried chicken place (great fried chicken place, actually), and mid-level quality for most other items. It's close to Sleeping Dragon Hostel (like seconds from) if you need a guide. There's a decent sit down and order whatever you want (or in my non-Mando speaking case, whatever they want me to have) place there as well, but it's not cheap.

              1. re: JFores

                Donyuhuang Lu was a very interesting place. Went there at 5:00 AM once and watched as the locals set up their shops. Interacted with some guys. There was a good amount of poultry, fish, frog, snake, and other live animal available. Barely missed seeing a chicken getting slaughtered. Just saw the skinned aftermath near a messy pile of feathers. There was some decent food on the street too, though nothing I would call excptional. I enjoyed it more for it's vibrancy and ghetto-feel. The local restaurants, particulary the hot pot, can be very good. Where is this XLB location? I haven't been.

                Anyways, I speak in the past tense because the gov't decided to sanitize the whole mess. The street is largely empty of stalls, there are rails on the sidewalks, and it's decidely cleaner. It isn't completly empty, as more people come out at night. Alot of the merchants just got shoved indoors but I imagine alot had nowhere to go. They're doing renovations and what not too. Police patrol the area (I have seen over a dozen) to keep it in line. Pretty unfortunate.

                1. re: NewYorkNewHaven

                  Depressing news. I only discovered Dongyuhang Lu last Spring. Is no neighborhood of Shanghai safe from "sanitization?"

                  Is the youdengzi lady still there (see pic)? She's worth going back for.

                  http://is.gd/1IZYT

                  1. re: Xiao Yang

                    I've been pretty broke lately so I haven't done much exploring but I will this weekend. I haven't had youdengzi--but I'll go back to the Dongyuhang Lu area to scope it out. I think I have concentrated too much on restaurants (the local kind) and missed out on some of the finer street food. I'm going to skip the restaurant thing this weekend.

                    But there are really good restaurants in that area that make the trip more than worth it! But without the market there is a definitive absence in the air... Do you know of any other ghetto food markets like Dongyuhang?

                    What's really depressing is how obscure this location was. NONE of my coworkers knew about it. Three are Shanghai natives. One lives in Hongkou. It wasn't that big but it was pretty dirty. Most of the food was relatively clean. They did it for the Expo, I am told, but why?

                    1. re: NewYorkNewHaven

                      I live near the Hongqiao Lu subway station (Lines 3/4) in Changning District. About an eight minute walk. Near my apartment there is a little alley by (I think) a Korean restaurant that leds into a big, indoor fruit and fish market. Relatively clean. In the alley on the way in, though, before the clothes hawkers there is a food section. There you can find some really good baozi, jiaozi, sheng jian bao, mantou, ma qiu, etc.. I will get the cross streets later.

            3. A few months ago, I found another small eats street near Yuyuan that was filled with dishes only the adventurous will try. Bustling with locals and storekeepers! It is an alley further down past the new shopping mall.

              My menu that night was:
              -鸭血汤 (Duck blood soup)
              -臭豆腐 (Stinky Toufu)
              -龙虾 (miniature lobsters)
              -fried crackers
              -mix and match your own stir-fry
              -fried dumpling
              -chinese version of crepe

              It is only about a block long, but I bet this is the experience most tourists expect when they come to China.

              1. While Shanghai has a couple remaining food streets, you're not going to find the real Chinese gems like you do in smaller cities like Wuhan and Kaifeng.

                The Wujiang Food Street is basically gone, destroyed for a crusty modern walking shopping district, while the Yunnan Nan Lu Snack Food Street (http://kl.am/tV2) has been refurbished and sanitized, although you'll still find a great selection of shengjian (famous pan fried Shanghainese dumplings) and deserts.

                The other interesting street food area is the Shanghai Friday Muslim Market (http://kl.am/tV6 ), which, as the name suggests, only occurs on Fridays from 11am - 3pm, more or less. The street has a nice selection of Uyghur and Hui (Chinese Muslim) dishes and snacks and the gathering point not only features great food but offers an interesting glimpse into a local minority population. For more on the Muslim Market check here: http://kl.am/tMn .

                1. Wujiang Lu is way too touristy and overpriced, not worth it except for Xiao Yang's shengjian with a bowl of their neon yellow duck blood curry soup.

                  The Friday Muslim market is also probably best avoided. Its kind of cool to walk around, but the food isn't very good.

                  My favorite street food spot is Shouning Lu, kind of under the radar, but very local and a great spot to get spicy crawfish and crabs (when in season).

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: modernleifeng

                    I totally agree about the Muslim Market, but I'm still into Wujiang Lu and I think price is relative. Certainly it's more expensive than smaller cities in China, but for Shanghai anything on Wujiang Lu is pretty affordable.
                    No doubt Xiao Yang's is the jam. Actually, there's a pretty cool piece about Xiao Yang's and Shengjian in general here: http://www.chinatravel.net/feature/Hu... . (Note to fellow Chowhounds: I'm the author, but it's still informative so I guess it's relevant to this thread).
                    Thanks for the advice on Shouning Lu, I'm gonna check it out soon.