Mintel city food guide: What to eat in Shanghai

August 13, 2019
3 min read

You regularly enjoy our analysts’ food adventures and you keenly read our insights about the food and drink industry. So this summer, we’re bringing you the ultimate city food guides to accompany your travels around the world. From Chicago to Kuala Lumpur, London and Shanghai – get ready to discover the latest foodservice trends in these buzzing metropolises, crossroads of cultures, spices and flavours. Because who’s better than a local, food-obsessed, restaurant-hopping analyst to spot up and coming cuisines?

Let’s hear about Shanghai’s food scene from Belle Wang, Associate Research Analyst.

Nourishing the body… while having a coffee

Traditional Chinese medicine is valued by consumers as it presents a holistic approach to health and wellbeing. It involves a wide range of practices and beliefs that are usually incorporated with plant- or animal-based remedies to maintain wellness and aid in disease prevention. Yan Yue Shan is a Shanghai tea shop based on the philosophy that life is all about balance. The shop was co-founded with traditional Chinese medicine brand Tong Ren Tang. Its tea drinks feature Chinese herbs with different functions, giving customers an excuse to indulge while providing a solution to health-related issues, like digestion. Yan Yue Shan is now trying to add the concept of nourishing and healing the body into the coffee category with a herbal coffee drink created in association with the international coffeehouse chain Gloria Jean’s Coffees. The drink has a pure coffee taste and includes elderflower, chicory root, dandelion and Luo Han Guo (monk fruit). The latter is used as a natural sweetener, relieving rising concerns about sugar intake. Adding a fun twist, the coffee is served with a Harry Potter inspired elder wand, which helps consumer visualise the ingredient used in the drink.

Source: Ru Tang

Spinning iced coffee

Spinning iced coffee brings another novel drinking experience to Shanghai’s coffee shop market. Ocean Grounds Coffee Roasters has introduced New Orleans Iced Coffee. A frozen espresso sphere floats in milk, while ground cinnamon lifts and enriches the flavour. Fragrant cinnamon sticks are added for décor, making the experience even more immersive and multi-sensorial, while a milk jug on the side allows for refills. The coffee cup has a special design made for spinning: the spin can accelerate the melting speed of the iced espresso sphere, making it blend better with milk. The market for on-premise coffee in China is experiencing fast growth, and coffee consumers have more knowledge and higher expectations than ever. Creative innovations are key for coffee houses to differentiate from competitors.

Picture-perfect DIY desserts

ORO, a popular tiramisu dessert shop, has opened a pop-up store in Shanghai to introduce its DIY gelato panini and croissant tiramisu.

The ice creams come in three premium flavours: original, black truffle and yuzu. Consumers choose the ice cream first, then the coloured side shell and the toppings to stick around the ice cream. These can be small chocolate balls, crushed nuts, dried rose, freeze-dried fruits, oats, etc.

The tiramisu comes in a croissant, dressed with chocolate sauces and toppings for extra indulgence.

The store decoration is very fancy, and so is the desserts packaging. The treats come wrapped with shiny golden paper in a giant candy shape packaging. The entire decor is picture-perfect, catering to China’s photo and experience economy, thus making the dessert shop a true social media destination.

Associate Research Analyst Belle Wang delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the data.

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