Shanghai is a city that’s always on the move. Luckily for residents of the 24-million person metropolis, there’s irresistible street food that’s easy to spot and smell from any corner to keep locals fueled 24 hours a day.
For a quick and delicious breakfast on-the-go, there are plenty of stalls with enticing and absurdly affordable options – nothing should cost most than 20RMB (approximately $3 USD). Here’s a sampling of a few of the most popular breakfast items you’ll spot on the streets of Shanghai:
These thin, made-to-order millet-flour based pancakes are always fresh off of the griddle. Hoisin sauce is slathered on, then topped with cilantro, scallions, and baocui (crispy fried cracker). You also have the option to add lajiao (chile sauce), youtiao, or an egg.
Shou zhua bing 手抓饼
While shou zhua bing originated in Taiwan, it’s seen all over Shanghai as well. A flaky and crispy hand-pulled scallion pancake serves as the base for a fried egg, lettuce, hot dog and ketchup.
Cong you bing 葱油饼
Scallion pancakes are similar to shou zhua bing, but are thicker and served without toppings. They’re fragrant from the chopped scallions and loaded with a healthy dose of oil.
These standard steamed buns are pillowy-soft on the outside, with all types of fillings – like spinach and mushroom (cai bao), roast pork (chashao), beef (niurou), black sesame paste (heizhima) or molten salted egg custard (liu sha bao) – on the inside.
A cup or bowl of warm, soft tofu is comforting on any brisk morning. You’ll find douhua garnished with scallions, soy sauce, lajiao and dried shrimp for added texture and savory flavors.
A fried dough stick/cruller is often eaten with douhua or congee, but you can practically pair it with anything. Although it’s fried, the outside is delicately crisp, rather than hard and crunchy, while the inside is airy and light.
Ci fan tuan 糍饭团
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Salted egg, pickled greens, pork floss, and crunchy dried youtiao are stuffed inside of a sticky rice ball or roll, depending on the vendor. Each bite gives you a mouthful of crunchy, sticky, salty and sweet all at once.