Shanghai literally means "Upon the Sea." It is one of the four direct-controlled municipalities of China and the most populous city proper in the world, with a population of more than 24 million as of 2014. It is a global financial center and transport hub, with the world's busiest container port.
Shanghai is China's expressions of the new age. Plenty of modern architecture and technology are quickly overcoming the traditional and the municipality is extremely westernized. But despite modernization, air pollution in Shanghai is low compared to other Chinese cities.
Shanghai cuisine or Hu Cai, has two styles – Benbang and Haipai. Benbang or "local cuisine", is the traditional family style cuisine that appeared in Shanghai over 100 years ago. It always has a great flavor and a bright color derived from the oil and soybean sauce. Benbang food tastes fresh, mellow and sweet.
Hai Pai or "all-embracing cuisine," on the other hand; is derived from the cosmopolitan culture formed in Shanghai in between 1644-1911. It absorbs the advantages of many food from other regions of China and even western food, and then adapts them to suit local tastes.
Shanghai dishes give emphasis on the use of condiments and the importance of retaining the original flavors of the raw ingredients. These dishes are usually lightly flavored and is mellower and slightly sweet in taste compared to some other Chinese cuisines. An attractive presentation is also important in Shanghai cooking with ingredients being carefully cut and presented to obtain harmonizing colors.