Shopping for Western food in China can be a challenge. However you can find just about anything, as long as you know where to look!
Everyone knows that Chinese food is delicious and there are so many traditional dishes to sample! There’s sweet and sour pork, wontons, Beijing roast duck, chow main and spring rolls just to mention some crowd favorites. Oh, and then there’s dumplings that come in literally every size, style and flavor that you can imagine.
I spent my first few weeks in China stuffing my face with dumplings and trying as much Chinese food as I could! Despite all the amazing food that China had to offer, it didn’t take long for me to crave some basic European groceries.
It was quite a shock to discover that the huge Chinese supermarket that sells live turtles, pig snouts, salted soda and at least 20 different egg variations has never heard of un-sweetened bread, salami, salted popcorn or real cheese.
While the food selection is much better in Shanghai’s city center (90 minutes from where we live), China is known for its lack of milk-products and other Western products. This is where Metro and Fields come to the rescue.
Metro is a large supermarket that sells a variety of global foods at a great price. The Metro in Shanghai offers huge blocks of cheese, tender organic meats, pickles, baguettes and so much more that you can’t get in a regular Chinese grocery store.
In some countries, supermarkets like Metro and Macro require exclusive membership cards. In China, you just need to show up with your passport and you will get a card!
An alternative to Metro is Marks & Spencer, however it is more expensive, has a much smaller selection but does offer some unique British products.
For fans of online shopping there’s Fields. Moderately priced and offering free delivery for orders over 200 RMB ($30), Fields always has exciting sales and 2 for 1 deals. It boasts a great selection of organic meats, cheeses,“zero-footprint” fruit and vegetables as well as fair trade products.
Fields also sells desserts including cheesecake, eclairs, macaroons, gourmet melting chocolate cakes and even pumpkin pie which are hard to come by anywhere else. So far, Fields has been the only place in China where I found crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside dark bread buns. They even sell ready-made foods on certain holidays, like stuffed turkey for Thanksgiving!