The Secrets to Food Delivery in Shanghai
Sometimes after a long day of work or sightseeing, there is nothing better than having good food conveniently brought to your job, hotel or residence. During the last couple decades of Shanghai’s modernization, delivery food has easily become reality, as long as you know where to look.
In this post, we will examine some of the best ways to order some quality Western food in Shanghai delivered right to your door, so you do not have to eat overpriced, low quality room service or spend a long time outside of where you live searching for something decent.
IMPORTANT IMPORTANT IMPORTANT
In order to use any of the delivery options below, you will need a local Chinese phone number.
Pro tip: If you do not have one, you can just use the phone number of the concierge at your hotel. You can even use the Chinese phone number of a friend, and they can let you know when your food has arrived. You can always change the account phone number on your profile page.
Like any major city, Shanghai has its own major online food delivery services. Even better, they have a service catering to Westerners (i.e. non-Chinese speakers). Sherpa’s has been in Shanghai since 1999, and was founded by an American entrepreneur. The service also operates in Beijing and Suzhou. With it’s English-speaking service, daily deals, and wide array of options, Sherpas is great for anyone looking for convenient way to get Western Food in Shanghai.
Most restaurants open up around 10:30 or 11 a.m., and are open until 9 or 10 p.m. There is a normal delivery fee of 15 RMB for each order. There is a happy hour from 4:30 to 5:30pm Monday through Friday, where Sherpa’s does not charge you for a delivery fee. And, after 6pm, you need to have a minimum order charge of 100 RMB. Therefore, placing a Sherpa’s order with a friend or in a groups is a good call.
Setting up an Account
To set up an account, simply log onto http://sherpa.com.cn and enter your email address or phone number as well as a password on the top right of the page. You can then type in the address of where you are located, and all of the different restaurants located around you will show up.
Types of Restaurants
A wide array of different restaurant options will show up depending on where you are located. Especially if you are in prime spots around Puxi (The part of Shanghai located East of Huangpu River), you will be able to find anything, for example American and Italian to Indian and Thai food. On the right side of each restaurant you can also see what deals are available, which is a great way for you to save some money.
How to Complete Your Order
After you decide on a restaurant, you can select the specific dishes that you want and they will show up in your shopping cart on the right. The individual price of each dish and the total cost of your order will also be calculated. Once you press “view order”, another screen will come up confirming the details of your name, location, email, your phone number, and what you ordered. You will then have a receipt sent to your email and an estimated time of delivery
Over the Phone
Instead of ordering online, you can also call Sherpa’s directly, with the number 6209-6209, extension 0 for the English option. This process may be a little more difficult, because conveying the exact restaurant and order may be difficult for even the English-speaking customer service agent to fully understand. By ordering over the phone, however, you can avoid going on the computer entirely and can be more time efficient.
If ordering online, you will see an option that asks if you want to pay in cash on arrival, or in WeChat pay. Both work just fine, but be advised for WeChat pay you will need a Chinese bank account to top up money into your WeChat wallet. If you want to learn more about the functions of WeChat, check out our post Wechat for Beginners: Introduction.
Picking up your Food
When your food arrives, you will receive a phone call, as well as an email if you ordered online. At hotels, often times you will have to go down to the lobby to pick up the food. If you ordered to your apartment or business, the courier should be able to come directly to your location in the building if they do not need any special access to enter.
Sometimes your caller will be someone from the Sherpa’s office notifying you in English that your order has arrived. However, other times the courier will call you directly, and they will most likely not speak English.
If you answer and do not understand them, all you really need to ask is:
- nǐ dào le ma? (have you arrived?) In response, if the courier responds with
- duì, or duì duì duì (yes yes yes), that means they have arrived.
If you hear something along the lines of…
- bù shì (not to be) or wǒ hái méi dào le (I still have not arrived)
You will at least know that they are not there yet. For further information regarding your order you can hand your phone to a Chinese speaking friend or coworker if available.
Sherpa’s also has a live chat option where you can talk with a customer service agent regarding any questions or concerns about your order. You can find the live chat option on the front of the main page or on your confirmation order. Using the live chat is great for checking if your order is close to arriving, or to see if your order is possibly delayed. The response from customer service is usually very timely and they do a great job getting back to you with helpful information.
If you order is delayed or there is a mistake, Sherpa’s also reimburses. For example, if your order was more than 15-20 minutes late, they will take ~30-40 RMB off. During lunch, happy hour, and dinner times this is quite common; sometimes orders can take around one hour to finally arrive. Yay for discounts!
24 hour delivery Options
Once in a while you encounter a full day, a very long night, or are fighting jet lag and are in need of a snack. Shanghai, the city that never sleeps, has a solution. Although the following are definitely not the healthiest options out there, they operate 24 hours and can help satisfy any late night craving aka (4/5th meal).
Yes, it is the future, and McDonald’s does actually deliver. The idea of ordering is quite similar to Sherpa’s, you can place your order either online by creating an account at https://www.4008-517-517.cn/cn/ or simply by calling over the phone. In Shanghai, the phone number is 4008-517-517 (like the website url) and there also is even an English telephone extension if calling over the phone.
To create an account online, you simply put in your email or phone number along with a password. The plus side of ordering online is that you can see the options in front of you, as the menu is different from what you would find in the United States or elsewhere.
McDonald’s is not as developed as Sherpa’s, however, as they lack live support chat and there is no reimbursement if there are problems. In order to reach out regarding a delayed order, you will have to call the number again. Late at night, sometimes you will notice that the phone may ring several times before finally receiving an answer.
Another option for 24 delivery in Shanghai is Melrose Pizza. To place an order, you can call +86 400-887-4992. To see the options of different pizzas, sandwiches, and sides, you can simply go to their website http://order-melrosepizza.com and then give them a call. The person answering the phone also automatically answers in English; you simply tell him your address and he will tell you how long the order will take to arrive. In terms of quality, the food is by no means the best pizza you will ever have (think Little Caesars) but it gets the job done and is a solid Western food option, especially that it operates 24 hours.
The best attribute of Melrose Pizza is that you can order 2 pizzas for 100 RMB including free delivery and 2 sodas, at any time of the day. Therefore, using this deal is great when ordering with a friend or group.
Eleme (literally, are you hungry?) is a delivery service that is extremely popular in China. It accounts for both western and local restaurants, and you can find food items for extremely low prices. You can also order food besides a full meal, such as snacks, juice, or desserts. Instead of ordering over the phone, you can place orders online through either www.ele.me or via their smartphone app.
For both the online and the app versions, you will need to create an account, by putting in your Chinese phone number, confirmation with a verification code via text, and a password. After you setup your account, on the main page you can explore the different restaurant options and choose one that you like. You can also change your location on the top left, and can translate the page into English via your computer settings.
After clicking a restaurant, you can see the dishes with accompanying pictures. Some restaurants may have a small delivery fee, for example 6 RMB, and a minimum order charge, such as 40 RMB. When you click on item, it will show up in the shopping cart on your right. After your order is completed, the next screen will confirm your items. You can pay in cash upon arrival or you can pay through WeChat pay or Alipay. When your food arrives, you will receive a phone call from a Chinese speaking courier. This is a very similar process to picking up food from Sherpa’s.
Unlike ordering online, using the app really helps if you are able to read some of Chinese. However, the app is still possible to navigate even without understanding Chinese.
On the main page, you will see a bottom row with four different symbols. From left to right, the eleme logo is the main food ordering page. Next, the compass is the section where you can discover more deals. Third, the piece of paper is where you can view your recent orders, and finally the person-looking symbol is where you can see your profile.
On your profile page, you can upload different addresses by clicking the option with the blue marker. Then, when you go back to the main page, on the top left you can choose which address you are located at. Like Sherpa’s, different restaurants will be available depending where you are. On the main ordering page you can click on the pictures to indicate what you want to order. For example, you can click on a hamburger option and places like Burger King will show up; an orange and places that sell fruit-related items will show up, or a cupcake and dessert related cafes will show up. All of these options can be delivered right to your door!
Placing the Order
Once you click on a category, you click on whatever restaurant you like, and subsequently what specific menu item. The best thing about Eleme is the pictures; if you click on a restaurant, although you may have no idea what the dish is called, you can see what the dish looks like. Just like being online, your shopping cart is on the bottom, and a screen will come up confirming your order, the price, and the location.
You will even sometimes see promotions that automatically reduce the price of your order. Once you confirm the order, the following screen will confirm your payment method. On the app, you can use Alipay and Wechat pay. After the order is sent and accepted, you can see approximately what time it will arrive. You will also receive a phone call upon arrival if the courier does not directly knock on your door.
You can also track your order, and see where your courier is in their delivery journey. To see this, on the main ordering page, you will see a pop-up on the right hand side with an image of a courier on their scooter. Click on this and you can see where they are on a map and the estimated time of arrival.
China, and especially Shanghai, is truly at the cutting edge of delivery service. Without leaving the comfort of your hotel, you can have anything delivered to you. There are not only western food options, but different international cuisines are available as well. If you are craving food late at night or early in the morning, there are 24 hour options that you can also choose from as well. Shanghai’s delivery food options truly portray how humungous, diverse, and accessible the city is to live in, even for expats.
Besides the services listed above, other popular food delivery services include ElementFresh, Mealbay, and Pizzahut.
Our personal favorite is La Cayota Mexican Grill, but we’d like to hear your favorites in the comments! What’s your experience like?