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Food & Nightlife

Dining Culture

Unlike dining where each diner is served pre-determined portions at the beginning of the meal or each course, Chinese dining is communal. While each person receives a small bowl of rice, all main dishes are placed in the center of the table, usually on a rotating “lazy Susan.” Diners dish out small portions of the main plates as dinner progresses. The two main components are carbohydrates (such as rice, noodles, or dumplings) and accompanying dishes, consisting of meats, vegetables, or fish. Soup is often served after the main dishes are finished. Lastly, for formal banquets, fruit slices, usually watermelon and oranges, are placed on the table. Common beverages include hot tea, water, orange juice, cola, sprite, and beer.

Students out on the town

Student Tips on Shanghai Hang Out Spots

I loved to hangout at Barbarossa. It is this lounge that has hookahs, food and drinks in the middle of a lake in the middle of People’s Park. Just imagine a hookah bar/lounge/restaurant located in the middle of central park surrounded by a lake and you get the idea. --Alice 

If you’re a fan of Latin dancing, definitely don’t miss Zapata’s. While their free Salsa lessons can be really basic for more advanced dancers, it’s a really fun way to meet new people. It’s just intriguing to be a part of a Salsa lesson in Shanghai! --Erica

Bar Rouge was where I found NYC nightlife in Shanghai. The crowd and the view are beautiful, the music is great, and the bar is literally on fire the entire night. Bar Rouge is definitely one of the best scenes on the Bund. --Melissa

Expat entertainment is usually a little more expensive than local places, but a ton of English-speaking people are around and it’s always interesting to meet people with different backgrounds. I’ve definitely run into a few NYU professors and administrators and met people from my hometown of Vancouver, Canada who I shared mutual friends with! --Katherine

Student Recommendations

  • Blue Frog 蓝蛙# | 30, Lane 3338 Hongmei Lu | 虹梅路3338弄虹梅休闲步行街30号 | Head here to satisfy your cravings for American food. All Blue Frog burgers are buy one get one free on Mondays starting at 4 p.m. And don’t forget to ask about the 100 shots “Wall of Fame.”
  • New York City Deli | 103 Fujian Nan Lu, by Jinling Dong Lu | 福建南路103号,近金陵东路 | In the mood for a sandwich? Call up NYC Deli! With everything from turkey subs to tuna melts, this deli is just like its American counterparts. Minimum 50RMB order for delivery.
  • Hello Pizza | 1216 Ding Xi Lu, by Wu Yi Lu | 定西路1216号 | Just minutes from NYU’s apartments on Ding Xi Lu, Hello Pizza is the place to go for reasonably-priced Italian food. Order online and get a two kuai discount!
  • People 6 穹六人间 | 150 Yueyang Lu, by Yongjia Lu | 岳阳路150号, 近永嘉路 | Try People 6 for off-beat cuisine and an excellent dining experience. A bit pricier than most Chinese restaurants, but worth the splurge. It certainly wins the prize for the most bizarre bathrooms in any restaurant in this city.
  • Bi Feng Tang 避风塘 | 175 Changle Lu, by Maoming Nan Lu | 长乐路175号, 近茂名南路 | This popular Cantonese restaurant is the place to go if you miss dimsum. Bi Feng Tang has all the familiar snacks, including shrimp dumplings and egg rolls.
  • Din Tai Fung 鼎泰丰 | 123 Xingye Lu, 2nd floor (inside Xin Tian Di), by Huangpi Nan Lu | 兴业路123弄新天地南里6号楼2楼, 近黄陂南 路 | Taiwanese-inspired restaurant chain famous for its xiao long bao (steamed soup dumplings) and large variety of Chinese teas, soup noodles and hot and cold appetizers. The restaurant also serves some delightful desserts in quintessential Chinese flavors like taro and red bean.
  • Green Sports and Leisure Center | R3-633 Biyun Lu, near Yunshan Lu 浦东金桥, 碧云路633号-3 |

  • Barbarossa | 231 Nanjing Xi Lu, inside People's Park | 南京西路231弄,人民公园内 | Built on a lake in People’s Park, this Moroccan lounge offers amazing skyline views and hookahs with indoor and outdoor seating. Happy Hour 5-8pm, all drinks half price.
  • Bar Rouge | 7/F, 18 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu, by Nanjing Dong Lu | 中山东一路18号7楼,近南京东路 | Capping 18 on the Bund, Bar Rouge is as glamorous as the drinks are original.


  • Armanni Bar | B/F, Shanghai Art Film Center, 160 Xinhua Lu, by Panyu Lu | 新华路160号上海影城地下一层,近番禺路 | Hot Hot hip-hop and house club that packs in the local party people.
  • Babyface | 101, Shanghai Square, 138 Huaihai Zhong Lu | 上海广场, 淮海中路138号 | Babyface is suited for dancers and loungers. It features hip hop and techno rooms!
  • BonBon | Yunhai Tower, 2F, 1329 Huaihai Zhong Lu, by Hengshan Lu | 淮海中路1329号2楼,近衡山路 | With legendary UK dance brand Godskitchen in the DJ booth, the hip and stylish bring out their best dance moves all night long.
  • Richy Shanghai | 109 Yandang Lu, insde Fuxing Park, by Nanchang Lu | 雁荡路109号复兴广场, 近南昌路 | One of the several clubs inside Fuxing Park, Richy is a good place for hip hop fans. The bartenders are just as wild as the people who are dancing, so look out for some wild antics (and free drinks) at the bar.

Dining for Vegetarians

China has plenty of vegetarian dishes to offer. Just make sure that the dishes you order do not use animal-based oils or broths in preparation. Some recommendations from previous vegetarian NYU students traveling to China include:

  • 番茄炒蛋 (fān qié chǎo dàn) - fried tomatoes and scrambled eggs
  • 三丝饭 (sān sī fàn) - three shredded vegetables over rice

Some vegetarians had trouble finding “actual” vegetarian food. For example, the waiter might bring out an eggplant dish with tiny shrimp sprinkled on top, even after specifically ordering “No meat.” Sometimes, you just have to laugh it off and reorder. Or, if you are fine with picking out shrimp, that works too!

When traveling to smaller cities, whether on group travels or individually, however, students may be dismayed to find a lack of vegetarian options and an excess of exotic meats such as dog, pig testicles, frog legs, snakes, and so on. Make it an adventure, and stay open-minded.

Students share a meal
ChinesePin YinTranslation
小龙包 xiǎo lóng bāo Soup dumplings (Shanghai specialty)
羊肉串 yáng ròu chuàn Lamb kebobs (typical of Xinjiang)
番茄炒蛋 fān qié chǎo dàn Fried tomatoes and scrambled eggs
三丝饭 sān sī fàn Three shredded veggies over rice
宫保鸡丁 gōng bǎo jī dīng Kung Pao chicken
麻婆豆腐 má pó dòu fu Tofu in chili sauce
四川火锅 Sì chuān huǒ guo Sichuan hot pot
芥兰牛肉 jiè lán niú ròu Beef with broccoli
北京烤鸭 Běi jīng kǎo ya Peking Duck
清蒸鱼 qīng zhēng yu Fish steamed in broth
麦当劳 Mài dāng láo McDonald’s
肯德基 Kěn dé ji Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC)
必胜客 Bì shèng Ke Pizza Hut
spicy tofu

Spicy tofu.

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Upcoming Application Deadlines

Fall Semester

Priority: February 15

Regular: March 15

Applications received after March 15 will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Admission will be granted only when space is available and time allows for required travel documents to be attained.   

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