Now that we’ve looked at Shanghai’s most overlooked street foods, we thought we’d round up Shanghai’s most overlooked (okay, overlooked by laowai) food streets too. These are the streets that exist in the shadow of the Shouning Roads and Qibao Old Towns, but offer just as many edibles. And since Shanghai has been shuttering its big-name street food zones due to so-called hygiene/pollution concerns, we’re increasingly turning to these neglected eat streets.
4. Wet market on Tianshan West Road
At first glance, the area surrounding the Beixingjin stop on Line 2 looks like any other dusty outskirt with tire shops, KFCs, one token Walmart etc. But Tianshan West Road has one of the best wet market sprawls we’ve ever seen. They’ve expanded their prepared foods area into a sort of indoor food street and diversified the chow selection. Along with the standard baozi, boiled and cut chicken (bai zhan ji), and roast ducks, there’s lamb with rice wine (stall 33), a station at the back serving Sichuan whole-roast catfish for only 38RMB, and those little roast chickens we adore. They even sell smoked toads from neighboring water towns in the spring and summer (stall 18)! And you can soothe your sweet tooth with the mung bean or black sesame paste rice cakes, mi gao (8.8RMB per jin at stall 48). We recommend getting there early when the fare’s piping hot and there’s a lot of turnover.
Market entrance between 245-261 Tianshan West Road, Beiyu Road (天山西路, 北渔路). Closest metro stop: Beixinjing (北新泾) Line 2.
3. Qishan Road
When looking at postcards of Pudong showing looming skyscrapers and glittering hotel lobbies, people forget that the area also has plenty of nitty-gritty back streets. One of our favorites is Qishan Road near the North Gate of Shanghai Maritime University. The “Shouning Road of Pudong,” Qishan Road is lined with stall after stall of sizzling shellfish, river periwinkles, mantis shrimp, crimson mountains of crayfish in the summer, and rows of outdoor tables at which to eat them. The minimal laowai presence means there’s plenty of room for haggling. You can bargain crayfish down to 20RMB per jin compared to the fairly fixed 40-50RMB on Shouning Road. Those looking for something different should try the silk worms (which are tossed writhing into oil, 20RMB), street lamb chops, or whole baby octopus skewers (20RMB) at the place on 12 Qishan Road. However, the tastiest offerings are the crayfish, mantis shrimp, or the garlic and black bean-grilled oysters, scallops, and mussels if you want to test that adamantium stomach.
Qishan Road, near Minsheng Road (栖山路, 近民生路). Closest metro stop: Minsheng Road (民生路) Line 6.
2. Tongbei Road
Tongbei Road is what you’d get if you crossed Shouning Road and the Tongchuan Fish Market. It offers the dirty-water crayfish and street mollusks of Shouning, but also the Tongchuan Road-esque fish tanks splashing with a diversity evocative of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. We’ve spotted everything from giant Japanese spider crabs to Dr. Seuss-looking long nose fish – all to be chosen live and prepped the way you’d like. The best options are the seasonal seafoods you can’t get at most other places, such as the live yellow mud snails in spring and summer. For crawdads, hit up any of the outdoor stands sporting tubs of live critters out front (58RMB per jin but can be bartered down). For fresh seafood, head to Chang Jiao Hai Xian (长脚海鮮) at 429 Pingliang Road right by Tongbei Road (also has an outlet on Tongbei Road) or the place on 221 Tongbei Road, which sells mantis shrimp for only 30-40RMB per jin, and spindly summer king crabs, di wang xie(70RMB each), whose meat evokes butter dipped in honey.
Tongbei Road, near Pingliang Road (通北路, 近平凉路). Closest metro stop: Yangshupu Road (杨树浦路) Line 4.
1. Jufengyuan Road
Seeing how the other three food streets in the countdown are kind’ve in the boonies, it’s understandable that they get glossed over. But Jufengyuan Road lies right outside Shanghai University’s west entrance and draws hordes of Chinese and international students every evening, so it’s a wonder how few mentions this place gets. And it’s a street food mecca. The actual Jufengyuan strip isn’t even the main attraction with its fruit wagons, skewer carts, etc. The real deal begins at the alleyway just right of the bridge connecting Shanghai Uni’s west entrance to Jufengyuan Lu – identifiable by the covered picnic tables, shrouds of steam, and scraping of woks. Here, you’ll find fried noodles and rice galore, shawarma, skewers, Chinese breakfast crepes aka jianbing , fried chicken, and our favorite, big Xinjiang skewers with ribs, chicken legs, and other animal parts spitted on medieval-looking metal swords. After you’re done savaging the street eats there, trot over to the giant complex behind the alleyway for your street food entrée. You can hit up the ground floor, a mass of outdoor tables and open-air eateries ladling up crayfish, mantis shrimp and other affordable seafood, or peruse the restaurants on the second floor for half-price Hunan and Sichuan classics. The Jufengyuan Road zone is like every food street rolled into one, and perhaps the only two-story complex in Shanghai free of big chain restaurants and stores.
Jufengyuan Lu, near Huifeng Lu (聚丰园路, 近汇丰路). Closest metro stop: Shanghai University (上海大学) Line 7.
Related: Shanghai’s 5 tastiest ‘weird’ foods
Benjamin Cost is Shanghaiist’s Food Editor. Email tips, recommendations, and news updates on Shanghai’s dining scene to [email protected].