snakes head

Photo: Alamy

Eat + Drink

Be a Fearless Foodie and Try These Exotic Shanghai Dishes

Chow down on snake heads like a Shanghai local. (Photo: Alamy)

When it comes to local food, Shanghai dishes out a unique experience for its visitors. From the Peking duck that is beloved across the world, to street food that includes everything from insects to reptiles, the city is a foodie wonderland. Loosen your belts, adventure seekers, and try some of Shanghai’s most exotic foods.


One of the top contenders on any exotic food list, snake in Shanghai is consumed like chicken in most places. Popular variations include cobra Soup, stir-fried snake, and snake stew. But the local favorite is plain and simple fried snake, seasoned with salt and pepper.

Sea Worms

Basically looking like the male genitalia, sea worms are definitely food for adventure seekers. Sliced like an onion rings, the long, pinkish sea worms are stir-fried with onions and served as a dish that is quite popular in Shanghai.

Yak Penis

Speaking of the male organ, another popular exotic meal in Shanghai is the yak penis. Cut into swirls, the yak’s organ is then mixed with a chili broth and served in a hollowed melon. As for its flavor? It’s similar to ox tail, only better. Locals also recommend sharing yak penis with a friend, since the animal is pretty well-endowed.

Pig’s Lungs

Another great addition to the exotic food list, pig’s lungs are served like a creamy soup, with an incredible taste. Floating in the milky soup are chunks of a pig’s lungs, which are believed to cure coughs.

Beetle Grubs

A standard in every exotic food list, beetle grubs are also popular in Shanghai. The grubs are commonly served deep-fried until they reach to a golden, crunchy finish. Lovers of beetle grubs often compare the stringy intestines of the beetles to mozzarella, with an additional tang.

Drunken Live Shrimp

Ever fancied eating a live shrimp while it’s in a drunken stupor? For this dish, shrimp are marinated in alcohol until they get drunk, which usually takes a minute. Once the shrimp are tipsy, the alcohol is thrown out and the shellfish is marinated in a sauce of your choice, absorbing the flavor. While they’re still twitching, they’re served to you in a goblet. Bon appetit!

Chicken and Duck Blood Soup

Another common dish in Shanghai, chicken and duck blood soup is typically eaten by locals for its medicinal qualities, not necessarily because they enjoy its pungent flavor. The blood soup is believed to enrich the blood of the person eating it.

Deep Fried Wild Honeybees

Why not finish a gastronomic adventure on a sweet note? These wild honeybees are collected from the mountains outside of Shanghai at night, making them a real challenge to find and a delicacy to eat. Served deep fried with salt and pepper, the wild honeybees are savory with a hint of sweetness.