Shanghai is a legendary food city, featuring cuisines from all over the world, and a vast range of price and quality. You can live very cheaply in Shanghai if you eat locally or cook for yourself. You can buy a tasty and filling meal at many local 拉面 (lāmiàn, "noodles") places for around 5-10 RMB. However, eventually eating locally every day does tend to get boring, and does limit your diet. A good rule of thumb for eating locally is to pick the most crowded place - if a place has lots of customers, the food is probably pretty tasty (and won't give you food poisoning). Empty places are tempting because you can eat away from the crowds, but they're usually deserted for a reason.

Like any other big city, you can eat pretty cheaply but you can also blow huge amounts of money on lavish meals. There is a massive price range in Shanghai, but in general eating out is much cheaper than in most other big cities, so expats can eat out regularly without breaking the bank. Restaurant prices in Shanghai are far more affordable compared with similar food quality in cities of comparable size like New York, London or Paris. Living in Shanghai is an excellent opportunity to try a wide variety of different cuisines - if you're looking for traditional or non-traditional food from a particular country's culinary repertoire, chances are that Shanghai has somewhere that will fill your needs. Many (if not most) of those on expat salaries - whether they're international businessmen or entry-level English teachers - tout Shanghai's incredible yet affordable food culture as one of their favourite things about living in the city.

If your Chinese skills aren't up to par yet and you're concerned about being able to order from restaurants without the aid of pictures, is a great resource that is dedicated to helping foreigners order food in Chinese.


Main article: Breakfast

Shanghai caters to all kinds of breakfast desires, from traditional Chinese fare, street food snacks, western-style fry-ups, or lavish weekend brunch. Make sure you don't miss out on trying Shanghai's speciality dumplings, 小笼包 (xiǎolóngbāo) and 生煎包 (shēngjiānbāo).


Main article: Lunch

With so many people in the city, competition to fill restaurants come lunchtime is intense. Great lunch deals abound in the city, and it's always worth checking around your home or workplace for the best value lunch sets.


Main article: Dinner

Whether you're looking to dive right in and 'go local' at a local hole-in-the-wall place or splash out on a luxuriant meal at one of the city's finest eateries, Shanghai has you covered. Whatever you want to eat, you can find it somewhere in the city.