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Eating at Shanghai’s Street Food Night Market: At Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park 张江高科站夜市

Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park street food night market
Happy Lunar New Year! Here’s to the Year of the Sheep, and plenty of eating in good pastures for all of us.
I’ve been searching Shanghai recently for that elusive place, a night market full of atmosphere and great cooking smells, bursting with people. Shanghai has to have one of those, right?
There is the tourist-y one on Sipailou Lu near Yu Gardens. It has great hustle and bustle, but the vendors are jaded and routinely rip-off tourists of any denomination. Locals don’t go there at all.
I was looking for a local street food market, where people might go to hang out after work with friends. I followed several blind leads,  and took late night jaunts with my family in tow to the campuses of various universities in Shanghai where I heard night markets existed, only to discover they were sad jumbles of a few stalls and a strip of indoor restaurants.
The crackdown on street food vendors in Shanghai has meant that impromptu, unauthorised gatherings of street food vendors are becoming a thing of the past. And, I wondered if the rising wealth in Shanghai meant people no longer wanted to eat outdoors, especially in winter.
It was with a sense of impending failure that I dragged my long-suffering husband, children and brother-in-law to the Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park station to see if this, the last on my list, might be the one.

Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park is not really a park, but a zone dedicated to technology research and development. Thousand of people live and work in the area, possibly providing the critical mass of people necessary for a night market to flourish.
When I stepped out of the metro into the frigid night air, the first thing I noticed was the welcome smell of char-grilled meat and roasting chestnuts, and a stream of people eating street foods as they walked. Success!
The market has about forty regular vendors, with a great variety of street foods. Here’s a tour:
Dumpling vendor, Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park

 

The Auspicious Thousand Miles Dumpling Shop will serve you twenty delicate hundun 馄饨(wontons) in a bowl of soup for 10 yuan (about $US1.60). Or choose from one of nine dumpling varieties including pork with Chinese greens, pork and celery, or Three Treasures.

 

Baozi street food vendor, Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park
This vendor makes giant fried beef baozi (牛肉包子), as big as a man’s fist. These were utterly new to me – soft baozi fried to a crisp n the outside, and filled with a steaming savoury beef filling. The vendor told me they’re Hui Muslim in origin. Five yuan (about US80 cents) each.
Hanbaobao street food vendor
 Hamburgers, yes, but not as you know them. Hanbaobao 汉堡包 (or hanbao for short) are really filled fritters. Batter is poured into the circles on the griddle, then the vendor cracks an egg, adds minced beef, scallions and in this case, carrot, before pouring more batter on the top to seal the whole thing. She then flips it to brown and serves it with hot chilli sauce in a paper bag. Five yuan (about 80 cents) each.
Hanbaobao griddle

 

Cooking chao mian
No market would be complete without a chao mian 炒面 fried noodle vendor. And yes, that’s where chow mein comes from. Pick your noodle type, then the add-ins (meat and vegetables), and he will turn it into one big delicious bowl of fried noodle goodness in about two minutes flat. About 7 yuan/bowl depending on add-ins (about $1.30).

 

Fried potatoes, Zhngjiang Hi-Tech Park
“What are these called?” I asked the vendor, looking at a griddle tightly packed with baby potatoes, slowly bathing in oil until they turned golden and crisped.
She looked at me strangely. “Potatoes,” she replied.
That there is no special name for this incredible street food snack is a crime. They are the most delicious potatoes you will ever taste, as you pop a whole one into your mouth and the buttery, salty crisp outside bursts into soft starch. Thousand Mile Golden Potatoes? Prosperity Gold Nugget Potatoes? Five yuan per bucket (about 80 cents).
Grilled squid
Char-grilled chicken
Shao kao 烧烤 or barbecue is always one of the most popular stall at any night market. We chose grilled squid and char-grilled chicken legs, both salty, smoky and tasty. We paid 32 yuan (about $5.10) for three chicken legs and a giant skewer of waving squid tentacles.

 

Jiucai hezi street food vendor, Mrs Pan
At the Pan Family jiucai hezi 韭菜盒子 stall, Mrs Pan fills a soft square pancake with egg and lots of bright green jiucai, or Chinese chives, which she then fries on a griddle until crisped. Four yuan (about 65 cents) each.
Roujiamo vendor, Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park
My husband Matt has been telling me about this roujiamo 肉夹馍 guy for years. “He makes the best roujiamo in Shanghai!” Matt always told me. The problem was, we didn’t know where his stall was.
“On our way to the foundry in outer Pudong we always stop at this one metro station” Matt said, by way of directions.
“Which metro station?” I asked, but Matt could only guess it was “one on the way to the airport”, which narrowed it down to twelve possible locations.
So you can imagine how happy I was to finally run into the guy at Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park.  And yes, his roujiamo are excellent – a bread bun toasted on the griddle then filled with slow-cooked meat chopped together with green peppers.
If you’re visiting the night market and not sure if you have the right fellow – he’s the one grooving to techno-pop and wearing a Hello Kitty apron.
Rou jia mo, Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park

 

 

 

Roasting chestnuts, Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park
A night of street food wouldn’t be complete without the sweet, nutty taste of roasted chestnuts, a street food I always associate with Shanghai in winter. Ten yuan’s worth (about $1.60) is plenty for several people to share.
There are many more stalls at the night market – smoky Uighur lamb kebabs, fresh fruits, noodles, xiaolongbao and more. Next time!
Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park Night Market
张江高科站夜市
Pudong New Area
Open every day from morning til about 9pm
(some vendors keep longer hours)
Take Line 2 to Zhangjiang High Tech Park station. The market immediately surrounds the station exits.
  • kristy

    Wishing you & your family a very Happy Chinese New Year, Fiona ! Wow… this post is surely very appertizing. haha…. Love those jiucai hezi. Enjoy & have fun !
    Blessings, Kristy@ My LIttle Space

    • nanchanglu

      Thanks Kristy and a big Happy New Year to you and yours too – may we all have an adventurous, exciting and prosperous year.

  • NguyenVanFalk

    wow, i don’t know what’s worse… that i’m incredibly hungry now and it’s only morning or i’m incredibly depressed i never got to sample this market or any of these dishes on my visit to shanghai! i’ll just have to go back, i guess 😀

    happy new year and thanks for the great post!

    • nanchanglu

      Happy New Year to you too! Glad you enjoyed the post, sorry about the hunger pangs though…

  • http://www.worktravelbalance.com/ Ingrid @WorkTravelBalance

    I love the open market at Zhang Jiang! It’s actually very interesting at lunch time, both the food and the people watching. There are a few other gatherings of street vendors in this area. If you’re interested in breakfast food market, check out the next station, Jinke Lu, in the morning. There’s an amazing selection of breakfast items.

    • nanchanglu

      Thanks Ingrid for the great tips – is Zhangjiang open all day then? The vendors I asked said dinner time, but perhaps there’s a different set of vendors during the day? And Jinke Lu I just added to my list for the next trip. Thanks again!

      • http://www.worktravelbalance.com/ Ingrid @WorkTravelBalance

        Yeah! Zhangjiang is definitely open all day. I just came back to work today and things are still not quite back to normal yet in the software park… I would suggest waiting a bit before your next trip 🙂

        • nanchanglu

          Great to know – I’ve updated the post accordingly.

  • peacehugger

    I can promise you if I set foot on Shanghai, I will relive what food you ate.

    • nanchanglu

      Excellent plan! Let me know when you’re coming – I’ll join you for a second course.

      • peacehugger

        LOL. I like to recreate dishes at home, made healthier. Don’t you bake cakes and pastries?

        • nanchanglu

          Street food is definitely not something you can eat every day – there’s a lot of oil! I do a lot of baking – mostly for my family. I love the art and science of baking.

  • Elizabeth Lowery

    I move from Shanghai in less than three very sad weeks…this just got added to my MUST DO BEFORE I LEAVE list–thanks for the tip!

    • nanchanglu

      Elizabeth, my heart is breaking for you right now. It’s such a hard place to leave. So let’s see…that’s 21 breakfasts, 21 lunches, 21 dinners and about 42 snacks…

  • Adrian

    Hi there,
    Love your blog and came across it many years ago actually..i’m visiting Shanghai again soon after 3 years and was wondering whether you had any chinese breakfast spots to recommend?:)

    • nanchanglu

      Hi Adrian – I would recommend the corner of Changle Lu and Xianggang Lu, also the corner of Nanchang Lu and Xianggang Lu (just a couple of blocks apart so you can have a breakfast stroll!)

  • Michelle

    Hi Fiona, I love your blog and long to visit all the places you’ve been to and try all the food. We leave for China next week….Chongqing, Pingyao, Beijing, Hangzhou, Shanghai and Shaoxing. It’s combination of work and pleasure. Will definitely try to visit Zhangjiang this trip. Just wondering if you’ve had a chance to check out Jinke Lu yet? If not, is there any other area more central for breakfast street stalls?
    Thanks!

  • msittig

    What I really like about the Zhangjiang High-Tech Park is that its full of young people who commute in to work at the tech companies there, many of whom are from out of town, live on their own, but don’t cook well and rely on vendors like these for food. They also have a vibrant energy that comes with being young and making OK money working in Zhangjiang.

    • nanchanglu

      Love that aspect of it too – it’s like a giant communal kitchen, and you’re totally right – with a young vibrant energy.

  • http://scherzi.tumblr.com/ scherzi

    Hi there! Stumbled upon this when I was looking for Shanghai street food info. I’m going there on a business trip in two weeks and am planning to look for some street food in the night, but will most of the vendors close at 9pm? I was hoping for them to open further into the night 🙁

    Great site you got here by the way! 😉

  • http://easytravelgear.com World Citizen

    Should I ever get to Shanghai, I will definitely follow this foodie guide and I will eat everything you have recommended here.