Night Market Food Tour with UnTour Shanghai
On a food tour of the night markets in Shanghai, you’ll chow on Bbq, crawfish, lamb kebabs, wok-fried rice noodles, fruit pudding, Lanzhou hand-pulled noodles and much more from countless hawker stalls — if you have a second stomach. I experienced all this and more on a frigid January evening in Shanghai with the guidance of a knowledgeable, hungry expat who moonlights as a tour guide for UnTour Shanghai.
We met at the corner of Shouning Lu and Renmin Lu (Lu is the word for “road” in Mandarin), an eclectic group of 10 visitors, all with an appetite for adventure. Unbelievably, one of the two other Americans in our group was from Arkansas and the other from Texas, both were in Shanghai on Walmart business, the other attendees hailed from Australia and New Zealanders.
Crawfish and Other Sea Creatures
After a round of introductions and dining protocols, we made our way down the narrow street past crates and makeshift kitchens while our guide Dan filled us in on the strange (to us) sea creatures and other more familiar looking foods along the way to our first stop. He also assured us that the places we would be eating had been carefully curated after many dining experiences by the locals and long-term expats that make up the team at UnTour Shanghai.
Yes, those are sea snakes, and we did not eat any, oysters and scallops (lower left) and crawfish (lower right), which was the main course at our first stop.
Quite literally a “hole in the wall,” we entered a tiny, cluttered space, washed in unbecoming, harsh fluorescent light and were led upstairs to a room devoid of decor as we know it, but “where the good stuff is,” as Anthony Bourdain would say.
First Stop: Night Seafood Market for Crawfish
Beers all around and instructions by Dan on the proper way to eat crawfish. Basically, you grasp the head, give it a twist to separate from the tail, suck the juices from the head, discard the shell (some people eat it), pinch the tail to pull the meat out, discard the shell, remove the vein at the top of the crawfish and discard, then enjoy the delicate flesh.
Lingering spices from the shells tingle your lips, heat-seeking icy insouciant beer to quell the numbing. With more street fare on the agenda, we were urged to refrain from filling up and clambered down the steep steps out into the night.
Night Market – Old Town Shanghai
From there we headed to old town Shanghai near Yuyuan Garden. The Old City bustles with activity well into the wee hours of the morning, and hawker stalls crowd every street and alley, filled with tourists by day and locals by night.
Noodles by Wokmaster Chaomin
It was here that we witnessed a wok master in action. Chaomin is his name, and noodles are his game! What he creates in seconds in a decades-old burnished wok is pure joy for your tastebuds.
Chaomin makes it look effortless, but I’m sure he honed his technique over many years. Check back for Chaomin’s “recipe” that UnTour included in their environmentally-friendly reusable market bag for us to take home.
I’ve gone on three UnTour Shanghai food tours and with their knowledge and guidance have learned more about the history, food, and culture of Shanghai than I would have on my own. It’s so much easier and enjoyable to explore the local cuisine with experienced guides and knowing that the places/foods selected for you are safe to consume. All you have to do is step out of your comfort zone and be willing to try anything!
Edited on 7/14/19 with better photos.