I spent four months in China doing a study abroad program at NYU Shanghai, the Shanghai campus of my university. While NYU has a dozen locations, the only full-service, degree-granting locations are NYU Shanghai, NYU Abu Dhabi, and the flagship New York campus. This post is a compilation of a some of the food available in NYU Shanghai’s cafeteria, such as the fresh noodles with dried shrimp, green onions, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, tofu, pork, fried wheat gluten and seaweed in a bold soy sauce-based broth (8 RMB) to the left. This was breakfast!
A brief review: the food is generally good. I especially loved the greens/mushrooms/pressed tofu filling of the vegetable buns and the fresh noodles above. The Chinese food is authentic everyday Chinese and the western food, prepared under the direction of a western-trained chef, is made with proper ingredients and techniques as well – no ketchup substituting tomato sauce here.
If you live in a first world country, you’ll consider the food here very, very cheap (6 RMB is about $1 USD, and 10 RMB is about $1.50). However, as a person who has spent a lot of time in China, I feel like the Chinese options are overpriced (while the western options are good deals). You can get the same kind of food for cheaper in the throngs of Chinese restaurants lining city streets anywhere. However, NYU Shanghai’s location is not average real estate, but some of the most posh and international in Shanghai. NYU Shanghai is located in Pudong, a new area of Shanghai filled with Chinese branches of multinational corporations, clean streets, and glossy skyscrapers. NYU Shanghai is on Century Avenue and a nice walk to the Oriental Pearl Tower, the “Bottle Opener,” and the Shanghai IFC.
Because NYU’s real estate is overrun by bankers and other rich expat types, there aren’t many casual Chinese eateries within 10 minutes of NYU Shanghai, so for convenience’s sake, NYU Shanghai’s dining hall is the best choice. I think it’s worth walking the extra half mile to get to a non NYU or corporate restaurant for different atmosphere and variety on the days when I wasn’t in a rush.
Starting with Chinese dishes, breakfast foods:
Bread with raisins. The bread is the same crustless, fluffy white bread of Chinese buns and baozi, except this is slightly sweetened. 3 RMB.
Fluffy and comforting.
Rice porridge (congee) with purple yam or sweet potato. I believe this was 2 RMB. Unsweetened.
Deep-fried dumplings with vegetable filling. Loved these! 3 RMB. Extremely overpriced.
Shaomai/shumai. Vegetarian and pork options available, 1.5 RMB each.
Fried buns with juicy pork filling. Doughy on top, crispy on the bottom. 3 RMB.
Jianbing, 4 RMB if I recall correctly, which is too much for what you get. Also, jianbing should be eaten on the street!
Sweetened, fried glutinous rice flour flavored with pumpkin. Undercooked. 3 RMB.
Chinese lunch food:
The bottom dish below contains stewed wheat gluten and black wood ear mushrooms.
Fried rice, 10 RMB. Pretty good!
Fresh hand-pulled noodles, 8 RMB.
Pork wrapped in tofu skin, 10 RMB?
Velvety, melt-in-your-mouth stir-fried cabbage, 4 RMB. Shockingly expensive.
Western lunch food:
There’s a salad bar where you can fill a bowl however you want for 10 RMB. This has a canned fruit salad of nata de coco, pineapple, and papaya, with some pickles on top.
Sandwiches, which you can build any way you like, are 15 RMB.
Excellent puddings, impossibly creamy and smooth. 8 RMB. I recommend chocolate over passionfruit (below).
Each day, there would be a featured western dish, always 30 RMB (about $5), like this pasta with cream sauce in its adorable little casserole dish!
Everyone loves garlic bread.
The best NYU food I ate all semester was this lasagna. No joke, the best lasagna I’ve ever had was made by Chinese people in a Chinese school cafeteria. Life is full of surprises!
I bought another one to share with a friend, who also said it was the best lasagna he’d ever had. Chinese people aren’t big on eating leftovers so I used a cup from the juice bar as a doggy bag.
And now it’s modern art.
The NYU Shanghai cafeteria has a Chinese food station, a western food station, a sandwich station, a halal station, a salad bar, and a juice bar, plus a basic drinks selection.
1555 Century Ave, Pudong, Shanghai, China, 200122