It is possible to find food for less than $2 in Shanghai. I do not compromise cleanliness for cheap eats. This list will be added as I find more food and places to eat under $2. Most of which are from street vendors, food court and hole-in-the-wall shops. These places require you to speak basic Chinese. None of these vendors, servers or cooks speak English. All menus in these eateries are in Chinese. Most of the time you won't find any foreigners in these eateries.
To standardize my findings, I use $1= 6 Yuan conversion rate.
1. Cong You Bing near West Nanjing Road. Each 3.50 Yuan (58 cents). Read more here.
2. Jianbing (Chinese crepe) on Wulumuqi Road in Xuhui District. Each 4 Yuan (67 cents).
3. Vegetable dumplings in soup from a hole-in-the-wall eatery on Street. 9 Yuan ($1.50) for a big bowl of soup with nine dumplings.
4. A variety of steamed buns including pork steamed buns (baozi) from every street corner in Shanghai. 1.50 Yuan ( 25 cents) each. We usually eat two to three per person for breakfast or lunch. Read more here.
5. Shanghainese noodles with black sauce and vegetables from in Wulumuqi Road. 4.50 Yuan (75 cents) per bowl with a clear bowl of soup on the side. The black sauce is for our chicken dish.
6. Barbecue lamb kebabs in Qibao. You can find them in most streets in Shanghai from 3 to 5 Yuan (50 cents to 83 cents) each. This was 5 Yuan (83 cents).
7. Hai Tang Gao (rice cakes filled with sweet red beans). Three for 10 Yuan. One for 3.33 Yuan ($1.10) each. Read more here.
8. Fried flat rice noodles after 9 pm at Fengyang Road (off West Nanjing Road) for 7-10 Yuan ($1.16-1.66), depending on the types of ingredients you add to the stir fry. This lady starts selling on the street after 9 pm when the Chengguan (city inspectors) are 'inactive.' She has the best fried flat rice noodles in the city!
9. Mochi sweets for 'breakfast'. Not everyone would eat this for breakfast. It goes really well with espresso or Americano. 8 Yuan for four in a packet ($1.35). Can be purchased anywhere in Shanghai. I bought these at Wulumuqi Road. To some people this may not be considered as street food. This is for those, like me, who love mochi and pay at least $6 for four in the US.
10. Fried Noodles found in a hole in a wall eatery behind JW Marriott Shanghai, off Huangpi Road. 8 Yuan ($1.33) without pork 9 Yuan ($1.50) with pork. Ask for disposable bowls and chopsticks even if you eat in.
11. Chinese paratha and bacon for 7 Yuan ($1.16).
12. Tea eggs - these salty eggs soaked in tea and salt are great hunger stoppers when you are out and about. Each cost 1.50 Yuan (25 cents). Nothing beats a warm egg when hunger strikes. You can find these usually sold by baozi vendors.
13. Jiaozi (potstickers)- meat filled potstickers at 3.50 Yuan (58 cents) for four.
14. Noodles in soup with preserved vegetables and fried egg for 12 Yuan ($2) at Hongqiao Railway Station.
15. Shenjian bao - 4 for 6 Yuan ($1) at Yang's Dumpling, above West Nanjing Road station. Yang's has several stores throughout Shanghai.
16. Vegetarian Sichuan Ma La Soup from a small eatery on Xinzha Road for 12 Yuan ($2). You have to pay an extra 1 Yuan for the take-out box.
17. Dried scallion noodles 7 Yuan ($1.16) at Fengyang Road next to Han City Shopping. The noodle shop offers a variety of dried and soup noodles- same noodles different soup and sauces with different prices.
18. Baked sweet potatoes for 3 Yuan (50 cents) or more depending on the weight.
19. Youtiao (fried bread sticks) each for 1.50 Yuan (25 cents). Great with coffee or warm soy drink.
20. Xiaolongbao (Chinese soup dumplings) 10 Yuan ($1.66) for 6.
If you are in Shanghai and have recommendations please don't hesitate to send them my way. Place your recommendations at the leave a comment section. Thanks.