In Hong Kong, it is usually known as ci faan. In Shanghai, the equivalent term cifan means compressed glutinous rice generally, and is used in compound names such as cifan gao, "glutinous rice cake", a toasted cake also made from compressed glutinous rice.
In recent years, there have been innovations on the traditional cifantuan, originating from Hong Kong and Taiwan, then reverse-introduced into Shanghai and its vicinity. Today, cifantuan is commonly available in two varieties. The "savoury" variety includes ingredients such as zha cai (pickled vegetable), rousong (pork floss) and small pieces of youtiao being wrapped in the rice ball. The "sweet" variety adds sugar and sometimes sesame to the filling.