Exotic Fruit You Need to Try Now

Your chance to have 'em all

by SHFamily | Fri, July 07, 2017

By Jake Durham 

Ever passed a fruit stand and wondered what exotic options you've been missing? With the scarves and coats of winter retreating to the closet for their annual dust-collection, the season of blooming flowers and budding trees makes a triumphant return! Get in the mood for warm weather with some refreshing and unique fruit options. Here’s our guide to must-try exotic fruits and where to find them at restaurants around Shanghai.

Durian (liúlián)


Known in many Southeast Asian nations as the “King of Fruit,” the thorn-covered durian has been part of the Chinese diet for many centuries. With an indescribably unique flavour and smell, it is one of the most divisive fruits in the world. Either fragrant or foul depending on who you ask, the fruit can be bought from the local supermarket and eaten fresh or served up as an ingredient in a variety of desserts. For those looking to dip their toes into the "King of Fruit" experience, Le Creme Milano offers a durian flavored gelato. Or be brave and pick one up next time you pass a fruit stand – you’ll only find out if you like this controversial fruit by trying it for yourself!

Find it: 173 Fumin Lu, near Julu Lu 

Lychee (lìzhī)

The small, round lychee is native to Guangdong and Fujian provinces and has been cultivated there since at least 2000 BC. Best served fresh, the inner flesh of the lychee has a sweet, aromatic scent and equally sweet flavour. This fruit is sold year-round and can often be found in markets and on fruit platters throughout Shanghai, but the best time to tuck into this local treat is the warm springtime. One creative example of lychee on the menu can be found at the Hube Cafe: their pink-hued Kyoto Love (a blend of lychee, sakura, and lime juice) is a light and refreshing drink – perfect for a hot summer day.

Find It: 592 Fuxing Zhong Lu

Pomelo (yòuzi)


Known by a number of names, including “shaddock” and “oriental grapefruit,” the pomelo is a large Southeast Asian citrus fruit that tastes rather like a mild, sweet grapefruit. Pale green or yellow when ripe, these beasts are hard to miss in fruit stalls and on supermarket shelves. One of the pomelo’s best qualities is the distinct lack of bitterness that often comes with citrus fruits, making it a great addition to salads. Make sure to try the Yum Sum-o (grilled prawn and pomelo salad) at T for Thai, which balances sweet and spicy flavors for a refreshing start to your meal.

Find It: 1502 Huaihai Zhong Lu; 6437 9633

Jujube (hóngzao)

Known as the “Chinese date” or “red date,” jujubes have been part of China’s culinary and medicinal culture for (you guessed it) many hundreds of years, thanks to its laxative and cold-relief properties. Jujubes are traditionally eaten fresh in spring or pickled in baijiu over the winter and sold in the spring as jiuzao (literally “alcohol jujube”). Order the jujube xiaolongbao at famous Taiwanese chain Din Tai Fung – with a refreshingly tart taste, it’s one of the more interesting options for trying this fruit in Shanghai.

Find It: Unit A104, 1/F, Shanghai Centre, 1376 Nanjing Xi Lu; 6289 9182; Various locations

Dragon Fruit (huolóngguo)

Also known as “red pitaya,” the tough skin of the dragon fruit looks like a spiky fireball while the soft, white, fleshy inside is filled with tiny black seeds. Its distinctive appearance and mild, slightly sweet flavor makes dragon fruit a key ingredient in desserts and a striking centerpiece for fruit platters. When sliced open and attacked with a spoon, a dragon fruit also makes for a quick, simple, low-calorie breakfast. A good place to check out dragon fruit desserts – along with a heap of other treats featuring even more exotic fruits – is popular chain Honeymoon Dessert, known for its Hong Kong-style sweets.

Find It: 3611 Zhangyang Lu, Pudong Xinqu; 2023-3289; Various locations