Shanghai, the major Yangtze River estuary seaport, does not have a cuisine of its own, but refines those of the surrounding provinces. The flavours are richer, heavier, sweeter and oilier than with Cantonese cuisine. Preserved vegetables and pickles and salted meats are used. Lime-and-ginger-flavoured "1,000-year-old" eggs are perhaps Shanghai's best-known culinary creation. Beggar's Chicken is a legendary dish wrapped in lotus leaves, covered in clay and oven-fired to steamy tastey perfection -- in olden times, it was baked in the ground. Other popular dishes include hairy crab, "eight treasure" duck, "drunken" chicken, braised eel and yellow fish. Dumplings, breads and noodles are served more often than rice.


Neighboring Hangzhou is a culinary as well as a former imperial capital. The city is famed for West Lake's fine freshwater fish and watercress: fried yellow croaker fish with pine seeds is a favourite dish. One popular flavouring ingredient is the city's fabled Lungching tea leaves, used with sliced abalone or sauteed shrimps.