AS Shanghai has become increasingly cosmopolitan in recent years, demand for imported foods and drinks has also increased.
Whether it’s handmade fettuccine or pistachio oil you’re after, there’s sure to be a retailer in Shanghai stocking it.
While multinational retail giants such as Walmart, Carrefour and Metro stock imported goods, a number of smaller players specializing in imported goods — both bricks and mortar stores and online retailers — have also sprung up.
Here’s a guide to some of them.
Supermarkets specializing in products from Japan and South Korea are very popular. These offer a diverse selection of food, drinks and lifestyle products often not found elsewhere in the city.
Located in the basement of City Plaza, Freshmart is one of the busiest supermarkets in downtown Shanghai.
From snacks to condiments, Freshmart offers more Japanese and South Korean products than other supermarkets — including enough varieties of miso to satisfy most soup fans.
The displays may not be as clear as other supermarkets, as the aisles are narrow and the shelves are packed, but staff are very helpful.
The deli has several sections, selling fried foods, salads and pasta, Japanese lunchboxes and barbecue as well as Western dishes and Korean delicacies.
The seafood section offers many kinds of fresh fish, crabs, shrimps and clams, as well as sashimi and sushi.
The vegetables and fruits seem way overpriced though.
During peak hours there are always long queues at the cash desks.
Address: 1618 Nanjing Rd W.
GL Plaza specializes in meats, fish, organic produce and Japanese imports. It has two stores in Shanghai.
The store in Xintiandi, the GL Japan Plaza, is much larger than the one in Isetan on Nanjing Road and includes a bakery.
Some products are a bit pricey, but there are good deals on offer.
GL Plaza has also launched an online store at www.gl-plaza.net. The website is only in Chinese.
Address: 222 Madang Rd,
1038 Nanjing Rd W.
Several chains operating in Shanghai stock a large percentage of imported foods and household products, as well as high-quality domestic produces.
A brand of CR Vanguard, one of the largest supermarket chain in Hong Kong, the first Ole’ store opened in Shenzhen in south China’s Guangdong Province, in 2004.
Ole’ has opened four branches in Shanghai in the past few years and more than 70 percent of its products come from overseas.
An extensive fish and seafood section includes everything from salmon, cod, prawns through to giant octopus legs. However, there are no tanks of live aquatic produce.
Fruit and veg are relatively expensive, but Ole’ stocks tasty rarities such as Brussels sprouts, plus fresh herbs such as oregano, basil and rosemary.
Fresh bread emerges from the oven at 11am each day, and the bakery also makes cakes, pies, tarts and cookies. Price are reasonable and ingredients labeled clearly — vital for customers with allergies.
The deli sells sushi, sashimi, Chinese dishes, sandwiches and salads.
Products are arranged clearly by category, and staff are very attentive and helpful — such as putting fish and meat in plastic bags before placing them in the carts.
A downside though is that sales reps for certain products can be quite persistent.
The largest import specialist chain store in the city, founded two decades ago, City Shop has a dozen branches in Shanghai selling imported goods ranging from dairy products, meat, snacks and fresh produce through to wine, beer and strong liquor.
About 80 percent of the 24,000 products on sale are imports, coming from more than 20 countries.
The vegetable and fruit sections sells both local produce and imports and includes organic choices.
Fresh and live fish and seafood are also available.
City Shop branches also have a deli and bakery, selling a wide variety of fresh bread — from pita pockets to rye bread — sandwiches and salads, as well as sushi and Chinese dishes.
Snacks on offer include many imported famous brand chocolate, cookies and chips.
Staff are helpful if you require their assistance.
Another Hong Kong-based supermarket chain specializing in premium products, city’super first opened in the IFC in the Pudong New Area, and has since added more outlets.
It also has a sub brand: Life by city’super, which sells stationery, cosmetics, travel accessories and more. The group currently operates seven stores in Shanghai.
While its imports come from around the world, a high percentage are from Japan and South Korea. It also stocks goods from Taiwan.
Star products include Belon oysters, sake and Spanish ham. The deli is one of the best among the supermarkets, as there are more options for hot plates, plus seating so that you can eat your purchases there.
There is also a section for siu mei — barbecued meat — including roast goose and duck, barbecued pork and traditional salt roasted chicken.
The seafood bar feature a wide selection of frozen, fresh and live stock, and staff can prepare seafood according to instructions.
Stores have bakeries and flower shops, while the branch at iapm mall on Huaihai Road has an open kitchen that provides cooking classes.
A boutique chain belonging to the same parent company as Ole’, blt supermarket also focuses on imported products and has three stores in Shanghai. Its name is the acronym of “better life together.”
The bakery is especially recommended as the bread is made using premium ingredients.
Address: 801 Baoxiang Rd,
889 Wanhangdu Rd,
No.40, Lane 199 Fangdian Rd
Bazaar by Lotus
Located in the basement of 245 Madang Road in Xintiandi, Bazaar by Lotus describes itself as an “entertaining food town” and offers a wide range of imported foods and beverages, as well as cosmetics and health products.
It also features a cafe, ideal for taking a break from all that tiring shopping.
Address: B1, 245 Madang Rd
Grocery shopping can be fun (sometimes) but it’s time-consuming. With this in mind, city residents can turn to online vendors to get their goodies at the click of a mouse.
A Shanghai-based premium online import food vendor, KerryGo was launched this year by KerryEAS Logistics with the commitment to food safety and freshness. All its products come straight from the country of origin by air with professional temperature and humidity monitoring.
KerryGo doesn’t feature as many fresh produces as other online vendors, with lines including seafood, caviar, meat and poultry, as well as wine and beers.
A highlight is the wide selection of oysters. Two dozen Tsarskaya oysters are priced at 912 yuan, while two dozen Belon oysters cost 936 yuan.
The website also features recipes from chefs.
KerryGo currently only delivers in Shanghai. Delivery is free for orders over 300 yuan.
Only online payment through Alipay or China UnionPay is accepted. There’s no cash upon delivery option.