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Shanghai Restaurant Recommendations


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Erin, I'm basically looking for the same places, with just one trip to a western place like Whampoa Club. There look to be some good recommendations in this thread. I come home on 3 October so I promise to report back and let you know around 30 September.

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  • 2 weeks later...

was last in shanghai 11/08 - i do remember Crystal Jade in xin tian di having good xiao long boa. they have a full menu - so that you can get other traditional shanghainese dishes as well. nb - pricing is reflective of its location in the xin tian di mall.

for traditional shanghainese restaurant - i like jesse restuarant in the french concession. had really nice red cooked pork, hairy crab (this is the very beginning of the season), steamed halibut head and collar.

i also highly recommend walking on the street near the markets to buy breakfast from the street vendors. just 10-20RMB ($1-$3 USD) bought a feast for 4 people each morning.

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I've been here almost two weeks and will be leaving in just two days. Just a few quick recommendations, I'll post more details and photos later:

Jiajia Tang Bao - Best xiaolongbao. Lunch wait is around 30 minutes, try to go early, even for breakfast. Conveniently located near People's Square. Many kinds of xiaolongbao, I got the standard one (7.50 RMB for a dozen) and the crab meat with tomalley (yellow crab "mustard") (81 RMB, expensive [by Chinese standards] but well worth it). Menu is Chinese only; just remember the prices and point and you'll be ok.

Shanghai Moon - I went with a Chinese friend and an American. Waiter recommended all terrible American dishes. Not sure if the menu really has anything else great. Nice surroundings, 1930s-style decor.

The rest of the restaurants I went to were at the invitation of family and friends. I find it very hard to evaluate these giant Chinese restaurants with over 500 items on the menu. It seems a big part is knowing what to order. These are the ones that I liked:

Xiao Ge Lou - Intersection of Wanping South Rd & Zhongshan South Rd. Menu is all Chinese, though there are pictures of everything.

Waipo Renjia (外婆人家) - 971 Dingxi Rd. Pretty good. Has English and pictures of all dishes. The roasted turtles is very good.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks for that, Kent!

I'll add my findings:

The xiao long bao I had at Crystal Jade were the first (of many, I hope) that I had, so it's hard for me to objectively rate how good they are other than to say the skins were sufficiently thin enough to make lifting them gently on to the spoon, before poking a hole and sucking out the broth, delicate business at best. My husband lost his broth to an overzealous pinch, and I laughed at him while guzzling mine. Obligatory pic:


Special mention goes to their noodles, which had irregular edges that spoke to being handmade. Toothsome and tossed with pork, dark soy, and greens in perfect balance. My husband, who finds noodles "boring" unless they're pho, ate them, so. Hot, oily deliciousness.


Turnip cakes had the most amazing skins - how do they do that?


We had some other, less memorable meals in alleys and such, but we went to Lost Heaven for Yunanese food for our anniversary dinner, hoping for a bit of change in atmosphere. I's pretty scene-y, but the menu was filled with dishes I'd go back to try, and there was a wine list, which I appreciate. I expected it to be filled with ex-pats, what with the English name and all, but it wasn't. Heavy on the decor, with ladies in national dress at the front door as greeters, I nevertheless enjoyed to food.

Lamb samosas with cumin, cilantro and a fruit sauce that I'm pretty sure wasn't mango, as I liked it.


Scrumptious chicken I'll be making and claiming as my own invention. Crispy pan-seared chicken breast with a sauce of chopped cilantro, green chilis, ginger, garlic, spring onions in equal measure, with rich chicken broth poured over:


A beef rendang-style dish. Bland and dry, sadly. Not one of their recommended beef dishes, but I wanted a stewed dish to complement the fried chicken one. I should have asked. Prolonged menu consultation seems the norm here, and I'll have to get more confident about that.


Tamarind-broth vegetables with pork ribs. I ordered this as a vegetable dish, as the pork wasn't listed on the menu. In China, pork is a condiment like salt, I guess. Fabulous, anyway, and the broth was just the thing with steamed rice.


All with a Clare Valley Reisling.

I can't wait to get back to Shanghai and do some more eating.

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We had some other, less memorable meals in alleys and such, but we went to Lost Heaven for Yunanese food for our anniversary dinner, hoping for a bit of change in atmosphere. I's pretty scene-y, but the menu was filled with dishes I'd go back to try, and there was a wine list, which I appreciate. I expected it to be filled with ex-pats, what with the English name and all, but it wasn't. Heavy on the decor, with ladies in national dress at the front door as greeters, I nevertheless enjoyed to food.


All with a Clare Valley Reisling.

I can't wait to get back to Shanghai and do some more eating.

Wooh! I had Lost Heaven food too!!! It was very very nice! Actually, they were some of the nicest restaurant people I've dealt with here - the friends that I was staying with and I were just too tired to go out (try teaching wine solidly for over 8 hours!) but I wanted to treat them. So they got me to ring the restaurant and I had the funniest conversation with the lady on the phone which started with 'well, my friends are foreigners and they really love your food, but we want to take it out so I'd like to order it in advance over the phone. However, they don't know Chinese and only know the English names for the dishes, can we try and order?'

Well, normally this is not received well - but the lady was awesome!! she went and got a menu and patiently wen tthrough all my options while I tried to translate the dishes that my friends wanted with such vague names as 'spicy chicken'...

Wonderful, patient and professional help - my god! It blew my mind! Ten minutes later they phoned to give an exact pick up time and my friend went off in a taxi and came back with heaps of the MOST delicious food, including a lovely Burmese style curried crab. The only let down were some greasy vegetarian noodles.... all the rest were smashing.

And one of the wines we had it with was a Clare Riesling too - SNAP!

Finishing with coffee and biscuits from MARKS AND SPENCER (WOOOO0-HOOOH! I blew over 400RMB there on crisps, tea, cookies and other stuff which I schlepped home to the Beige) - a meal to remember!

other than that, I oddly ate loads of Provencal cooking while I was there - courtesy of my French pal! :blink:

BTW, if you're back in Shanghai, nakji - the SOGO grocery store is a great source for certain non-Chinese Asian stuff...

<a href='http://www.longfengwines.com' target='_blank'>Wine Tasting in the Big Beige of Beijing</a>

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Oh, wow, how funny is that? And the same wine. I love a nice Clare Valley riesling, and I love trying wine with Asian dishes, so it was a no-brainer for us to order that bottle. Shanghai promises to be a great eating city. There are a couple of other places I want to get to, such as Yin, Di Shui Dong, and Guyi Hunan restaurant. Dong Bei Ren looks good, too, for Northeastern cuisine, and I eventually want to try some of the Shanghainese places such as Bai's restaurant, Baoluo Jiulou and Jishi Jiulou. All these names I got from the Lonely Planet, who I usually don't put a lot of food faith in, but Crystal Jade and Lost Heaven were accurately assessed, so I'm going to trust them on their recommendations.

Does anyone know about the South Beauty/Steam chain? They were both in Xin Tian Di, and now I see two are opening up here in Suzhou.

As for the Sogo - is that a Japanese Sogo? I'll have to check them out for my miso/yuzu/genmaicha needs.

And the Marks and Spencer! The wine selection! The biscuits in three kinds of chocolate! The chutney array! The red leiscester and onion crisps! The frozen pies! Next time I'm bringing a cooler.

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  • 8 months later...

For those who want a fix of ti punch and similar, Rhumerie Bounty has opened up near the French Concession in the Jing An temple area on Wuding Lu. Ignore the pirate theme and enjoy the rum and friendly service. We only had time for a quick drink on our last trip, so I couldn't see what was being poured, but I'm planning a follow-up visit for further investigation.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Whenever I visit Shanghai, I'm usually looking for a fix on non-Chinese cuisines, and end up at places like Wagas, Element Fresh, or Boxing Cat, looking for a sandwich or burger or layer cake. But this trip, I'm on my way out of the country for the next 6 weeks, so I thought I'd try to get some regional Chinese in before leaving.

We went to the expat-popular "Southern Barbarian", on the corner of Maoming Nan Road and Jin Xian Road. It won best contemporary Chinese in City Weekend mag, and more importantly, we were able to make a reservation for two at 7.30 on a Saturday night. It specializes in Yunnan food, an area I'm interested in, since Yunnan borders Vietnam, and I was interested to see if there were any dishes I might recognize from Northern Vietnam.

The restaurant is located through a commercial building, out the back way, and up a flight of stairs, so you get to run a very Shanghai-like gauntlet of chefs in their kitchen whites, smoking cigarettes and checking their iPhones amidst the wreckage of dirty dishes in the back alley. The restaurant is also currently featuring an exhibit of original North Korean movie posters, so it got serious points for atmosphere.

The menu was pretty narrow, and we decided to order their recommended set, since I thought if the kitchen messed that up, it wouldn't be worth coming back to; but if it didn't, it would be worth further exploration. Also it looked really good.

(Please excuse the horrible cameraphone pics: my camera was packed)

First up, cold dish: charred eggplant with tomato-vinegar topping. Excellent. I'll try to make this myself. Very smoky, with the tomato adding a tart note.

Then a puree of fava beans with Yunnanese ham.

Kind of bland and I couldn't figure out how to eat it until this came to the table:


A crispy/salty potato pancake, perfect for scooping it up.

We then got a plate of fried Yunnanese goat cheese, very similar to halloumi or fried saganaki cheese. We piled the charred eggplant on top of that, and the salt from the cheese made for an excellent bite. Like Chinese mezze.

Then, chicken wings on skewers, perfectly done. Lightly seasoned with a whiff of sichuan peppercorns and some sweet glaze - not sticky, just enough for flavour. I would have liked these spicier, but they were perfectly cooked.


Then we got the first plate of identifiable "Chinese" food; a plate of pork fried with peppers and ginger slices. Ok, but kind of bland. I wouldn't order it again.

We were still eating our way through all this, and beginning to lose space on the table when the dumplings showed up:

Half were filled with the fava puree, and half were filled with a traditional pork mixture. What made these special was the pastry-like wrapper, which was crispy and.. buttery? And the vinegar cilantro dip. Again, I though the dip was too light on spice, I would have liked more chili. Next time I'll ask them not to pull any punches. I get flustered in Shanghai and start ordering in English and generally look like a tourist.


So to finish up, and we were quite full at this point, but persevering, they brought a giant bowl of rice-noodle "Cross the Bridge" noodles, which I had been quite curious to try. The only restaurant in Suzhou serving them closed the month I moved there, so I'd been wanting to try them for a while. Since they're generally described as a rice noodle soup with meat, I was curious to see if they tasted like pho.

Short answer: not really. The noodles were round, to start. The broth was chicken, making it closer to pho ga, but without any anise tones. At least in their version. There were a lot of fishy tones from the squid also included. And I was so full from everything, I just couldn't do the bowl justice.


The restaurant also has about two pages of imported bottled Belgian beers, including the usual suspects like Chimay, Maredsous, Leffe. I had a bottle of Vedette, which came in the appropriate glass.

Verdict? I'll come back and work my way around the menu. The cold dishes were great, and a Chinese cheese dish is rare enough to revisit. The barbecue wings were also succulent, which makes me want to explore that part of the menu more thoroughly. If you're in town, it's worth a stop.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just came back from a trip there and am back down in another week. But the ticket prices- OUCH!

Anyway, our of my wine students this time was the manager of a ABSOLUTELY lovely restaurant: Madison.

Seriously great food - and the wonderful chef is really seriously dedicated to the ideas of Slow and Local Food. It's basically fusion-style food, but for once, done well. I was very impressive - and we were there during the soft opening period. Good sensible short wine list, and the food was delicious (and the chef introduced us to the provenance of each of the foods we were eating. The abalone cerviche was particularly lovely... Madison: No 18 Dongping lu 021 6437 0136 - it's in the Xuhui district (between Wulumqi and Hengshan road). Erin - I think you'll like it! :biggrin:

Edited by Fengyi (log)

<a href='http://www.longfengwines.com' target='_blank'>Wine Tasting in the Big Beige of Beijing</a>

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  • 1 month later...

I'm living in Shanghai now and have been to quite a few restaurants. I'm a bit busy still settling but hope to contribute a few things here.

There's a Chinese website called DianPing.com which covers all of China and is a bit like Yelp with reviews of restaurants (and other stuff).

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Great! I'll check that link out.

I usually page through "City Weekend" or "That's Shanghai" to make eating plans before coming into the city, but it's nice to have another source. Great character practice, too. :)

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  • 4 weeks later...

Two more places to add to the list, neither Chinese.

First, a very creditable bowl of pho can be found at Pho Real, at 166 Fumin lu. We've been there several times already this year - but it's no secret spot. We queued for 20 minutes today, although that could be in part due to the holiday. If you show up at lunch you can leave your number and they'll ring you when a table's available. Along with the pho, they use proper soft wrappers for their nem, import the limes from Vietnam for the proper lime flavour, and according to Fred, the proprietor, they're even looking at getting la lot leaves in from Hainan for bo la lot. The have a nice banh mi on the menu, either as part of a set or on its own. Fred also mentioned he's looking at opening up another location specializing in banh mi. Like I need another place to eat on my limited Shanghai trips. Apparently they'll do takeaways, which probably means lucky Shanghai residents will be able to get them Sherpa'd in. Grr. Argh.

I also stopped in at the Bulgarian place in Tianzifang. My first crack at this cuisine; since the weather abruptly turned from 38 degrees with high humidity to low twenties, howling wind and waves of rain showers, something sturdy was definitely in order and this place fit the bill. We had an excellent bottle of Bulgarian cabernet, accompanied by a plate of smooth roasted pepper-eggplant-tomato spread, dilled roast potatoes; chicken casserole, and stuffed peppers with a yogurt sauce. A nice change.

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  • 7 months later...

I've been living here for eight months now and have been to a few restaurants. If you're visiting, send me a PM and I'd love to get a meal.

A few thoughts on Chinese restaurants: Many of them are huge with huge menus so it's hard to rate them. Much of it depends on what you order. Overall though, most Chinese restaurants here are much better than even the best in America—if you order the right things.

A short primer on Shanghai:

Shanghai cuisine

Soup dumplings - Jia Jia Tang Bao, has a few locations, but I always go to the one by People's Square. Lin Long Fang is the more upscale version. My recommendations (in order): basic pork dumpling, pork with crab roe, pork with egg. The pure crab roe is really decadent, but not hugely better than the one mixed with pork.

Do not go to Nanxiang Dumpling at the City God Temple, which is very famous. Criminally wretched dumplings. An affront, an insult—don't get me started.

Fried dumplings (sheng jian bao) - Yang's Fried Dumplings. Several locations. One across the street from Jia Jia near People's Square. A good day can be had by going to either of these for breakfast, then museums at People's Square (Shanghai Museum, Urban Planning Exhibition Hall, Museum of Contemporary Art), then lunch at the other dumpling place.

Fu 1088 - Very well executed Shanghai cuisine, but avoid the questionable modern/fusion dishes. ¥300 per person minimum, but you can hit this if you get a pot of tea and nothing extravagantly priced. Reservation required.

Lang Yi Fang - Concise menu, well executed. Several locations. The one inside the Super Brand Mall has a view of the Bund, which you can try to reserve in advance. Next to the Oriental Pearl Tower, and the other skyscrapers.

Other Chinese cuisines

Hubei - Lotus. 641 Changning Lu. Decent wine menu, which makes it maybe the best, reasonably priced wine menu at Chinese restaurant I've ever seen.

Sichuan - Yu Xin Chuan Cai. Get the bullfrog.

Friday Muslim market

Foreign cuisines

Benjia - Best Korean I've ever had. The Pudong one is probably more convenient to access than the Minhang one.

Bukhara - Best Indian I've ever had. Amazing tandoori items. Far west near Hongqiao. A good pitstop if you're heading to the Hongqiao train station or airport.

Kagen - Japanese all you can eat, all you can drink (good sake) teppanyaki for ¥240.

Toriyasu - Yakitori

Food Fusion - Malaysian. Decent wine menu.

Dolce Vita - Pretty good Italian pizza.

Kaiba - Belgian beer bar.

Erin: I went to that Bulgarian restaurant and was less impressed.

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