9 of the Best Southeast Asian Specialties You Have to Try

You won't regret it.

by SHFamily | Thu, March 15, 2018

By Rachel Gouk

Eat your way through some of the best Southeast Asian specialties in Shanghai with these iconic dishes.

Chicken Rice at Malacca Hainanese Chicken Rice

Chicken Rice

There are plenty of chicken rice shops – but we recommend this hole-in-the-wall in Jing'an. They serve a variation (¥35) that’s native to Malacca, Malaysia, that compresses the rice into dense balls. The chili sauce is by far the tastiest we’ve had. There are also plenty of other dishes served here, plus, for cheap.

Find it: 1701 Xinzha Lu, near Changde Lu; Tel: 139 1614 6674

Bak Kut Teh at Song Fa

Bak Kut Teh

Bak Kut Teh is a pork rib broth that is widely popular in Malaysia (dark soy broth) and Singapore (clear peppery broth). Order up a bowl (¥68) at famed Singaporean chain Song Fa’s first Shanghai branch at the Jing’an Kerry Centre.

Find it: SB1-12, Jing’an Kerry Centre, South Block, 1515 Nanjing Xi Lu, near Changde Lu; Tel: 5266 1126

Pad Thai at Urban Thai

Pad Thai

Urban Thai is one of our favorite no-frills Thai options in Shanghai. Though we’ve ordered from there more than we’d like to admit. We recommend their Pad Thai (¥63), stir-fried rice noodles tofu, egg, dried shrimp, and ground peanuts, and a choice of either prawn, chicken, or vegetarian.

Find it: 393 Dagu Lu, near Chengdu Bei Lu; Tel: 6327 1800; 938 Changle Lu; Tel: 32503863

Laksa at Laksa Noodle Kitchen


Laksa Noodle Kitchen comes from the team behind Café Sambal, the city’s longstanding purveyors of upmarket Malaysian food. Their Curry Laksa (¥43) is full-bodied, made with fresh, quality ingredients. Plus, it’s affordable. They also have Penang Laksa (¥48), a tamarind-based broth with mackerel.

Find it: Rm. E04, B2, Hubindao, 150 Hubin Lu, near Ji’an Lu; Tel: 6313 2070

Cambodian Beef Salad at Cyclo

Cambodian Beef Salad

Cyclo has long since been a go-to for Vietnamese food. Since opening their Found 158 location, they’ve also added Cambodian and Laotian dishes to the menu. The Cambodian Beef Salad (¥75) is one such dish that is a must-try. It combines thinly sliced lemongrass with shallots, long beans, chili peppers, basil, mint, and rice powder. Cyclo now has extended their operation hours to 4am, should you need a late night meal.

Find it: 158 Julu Lu, near Ruijin Yi Lu; Tel: 6390 0078

Kaya Toast at Kaya Lady

Kaya Toast

Kaya is a sweet coconut jam made with coconut milk, eggs, pandan leaves, and palm sugar. Kaya Toast is typically eaten for breakfast, accompanied by a hefty spread of butter. Order a bottle from Gin, a Malaysian lady who’s been making fresh homemade kaya. Add her on WeChat to inquire.

WeChat: sgshanghai

Pho at Saigon Mama


Saigon Mama is a Vietnamese restaurant serving homestyle offerings of pho, bahn mi sandwiches, and other favorites, now with three locations in Shanghai. The Pho Combo (¥68) is our go-to, served with brisket, shank, tendon, tripe, and beef balls.

Find it: Shanghai Centre, 1376 Nanjing Xi Lu, near Xikang Lu; Tel: 6289 0522; Multiple locations.

Mango Sticky Rice at Simply Thai

With 14 locations in Shanghai, Simply Thai is perhaps one of the more successful chains we know of. Of course, they have plenty else on the menu (green curries, tom yum soups, and grilled pork neck) that’s worth trying, but their Mango Sticky Rice (¥35) is a must-order.

Find it: Various locations. WeChat: simplythaichina; Tel: 400 8807 729

Tom Yum Soup at Kun Thai

Tom Yum is a sour spicy soup that’s perfect for all seasons. Typically laden with seafood, it’s perfect with a bowl of rice. Try it at Kun Thai, a new Thai restaurant near Zhongshan Park. The Tom Yum Shrimp Soup is available as regular (¥58) or large (¥88).

Find it: 85 Yangzhai Lu, near Xinhua Lu; Tel: 136 4187 3965