Shanghai Eats

Dumplings—Shanghai’s most popular snack—come in every glorious incarnation: fried and steamed, pork and radish. But there’s much more to eat and drink here. Here are our picks of where to go!

375 Zhenning Rd, Changning Qu, Shanghai Shi, China, 200040
There’s no better place to enjoy authentic Shanghainese food than inside a 1920s Spanish villa. Right? Right! Take a seat at one of Fu 1088’s vintage tables, and get ready to savor a parade of elegantly plated local dishes. If you’re keen to try a classic Shanghai dish (or you’re all about unapologetically rich cuisine), order the hongshao rou (red braised pork). Or enjoy the lighter tea-smoked duck eggs and drunken chicken made with rice wine and topped with goji berries. The appetizers here skew a bit more modern, with deep-fried prawns with wasabi mayonnaise stealing the show. Note: There’s a minimum per person spend of about $46 at lunch and $77 at dinner.
99-1 Xikang Rd, Jingan Qu, China, 200085
You can find this Shanghai stalwart just around the corner from the Portman Ritz-Carlton, plying eager diners with prototypical Shanghai dishes around the clock (and all-you-can-eat dim sum on the weekends). Locals here tuck into hairy crab soup (the crab comes from nearby Yangcheng Lake), lobster fried rice, sheng jian bao (pan-fried soup dumplings), Shanghai crispy duck (an umami-packed take on Peking duck), and, from the dim sum menu, fresh tofu vegetable rolls. If you’ve got limited time and want to taste both Shanghainese classics and proper dim sum, Lynn is the place.
45号 Anfu Road
Despite a name change from Mia’s Yunnan Kitchen to Julie’s, this inexpensive, cheerful restaurant in the French Concession continues to serve delicious cuisine from southern Yunnan province. Kunming, Yunnan’s capital, is 1,900 miles from Beijing, and the province’s cuisine has more in common with neighboring Burma, Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam than it does with other regional Chinese cuisines. The most unique dish on the menu is rubing—pan-fried goat’s-milk farmer cheese, simply seasoned with salt and pepper. It’s very simple but unusual: When have you seen dairy in Chinese cooking? Eat it with pickled mashed potatoes, spicy mint salad, and plenty of mushrooms—they’re native to Yunnan.
100 Century Ave, LuJiaZui, Pudong Xinqu, Shanghai Shi, China, 200120
The tallest hotel in mainland China occupies floors 79 to 93 of the Shanghai World Financial Center, the 101-story skyscraper made by Mori Building, developer of Tokyo’s Roppongi Hills complex. As expected, any room or public area in the property likely has jaw-dropping views. Interiors mirror the aesthetics of a cultured modern Chinese residence, with sequences of gates, halls, and chambers as thoroughfares, and earth tones complementing natural materials. Monochromatic rooms have walls finished in linen, lacquer, and slatted-wood panels, with generous daybeds, 24-hour butler service, and plasma televisions embedded in the bathrooms’ vanity mirrors. But really, no amenity can top the incredible views.
22 中山东二路外滩
Vegetarian food has never looked better than at WUJIE, a temple to some of the world’s freshest cuisine. Dishes here are creative, beautifully plated, and a mélange of textures. The kitchen makes all of its tofu and milks (almond, rice, etc.) in-house and uses seasonal and domestic ingredients whenever possible; so those mushrooms in your radish dumplings come straight from southern Yunnan province. WUJIE shies away from mock-meat dishes, though there are a few delicious exceptions, including a tonkotsu-inspired cutlet of minced mushrooms wrapped in tofu skin and doused in crispy panko crumbs. The Taiwanese-and-Chinese-fusion restaurant has three branches, one at the border of Xujiahui and the French Concession, another on the Bund (prix fixe menu only), and a third in Lujiazui, inside the Shanghai World Financial Center.
379 Xikang Road
North of the Yangtze, it’s all about wheat instead of rice. Named after China’s northeasternmost region, this beloved chain serves hand-rolled wheat dumplings stuffed with savory pork or fresh veggies and boiled until the center is juicy. As delicious as the pork jiaozi are, the vegetarian dumplings might be the real stars: Try the tangy mushroom and bok choy dumpling or the green pepper, cilantro, and white cabbage. Warning: Prices here are scandalously cheap, so you’re probably going to order...a lot. Locals also love the stir-fried eggplant and potatoes (di san xian) and smashed chicken (xiang su ji).

18 Zhongshan East 1st Rd, Wai Tan, Huangpu Qu, Shanghai Shi, China
Ultraviolet is the kind of travel experience you talk about 10 years later. French chef Paul Pairet first dreamed of a multisensory dining adventure in 1996, but it took until May 2012 to open this transcendent restaurant. There’s room for only 10 diners to experience the 20-course meal at one time, and the dining room is a theater with HD screens for walls. With every course, the sounds, sights, and even smells change to complement and amplify the menu. The sublime sea bass Monte Carlo—sea bass with fresh mozzarella and sun-dried tomatoes inside a baguette—is served to the sound of Debussy, and as you eat you’ll notice a vibrant aquarium has appeared right in front of you.
66 Wu Jiang Lu
Q: What could be better than soup dumplings? A: An order of fried soup dumplings; duh! Yang’s fills its sheng jian bao with the same juicy pork filling as the ubiquitous steamed xiao long bao, but the restaurant uses thicker dough so the dumplings can stand up to super-high temperatures. When they’re finished frying, the buns crisp up on the bottom, turning a beautiful shade of golden brown. Enjoy them with chopped cream onions and sesame seeds, but bite carefully: It’s too easy to get zapped in the eye with hot broth.
90 Huanghe Rd, Huangpu Qu, Shanghai Shi, China, 200003
There’s always a line in front of this hole-in-the-wall, but don’t be deterred: Jia Jia’s queue moves fast, and its steamed soup dumplings are worth the wait. When it’s your turn to order, you bark what you want—pork, crab, or pork and crab xiao long bao—pay, and move to the side to claim a plastic table. The only sounds in the restaurant are tapping chopsticks, satisfied slurping, and the occasional camera shutter. Jia Jia closes when it sell out, usually by early evening. And while the crab dumplings are available year-round, they’re absolutely incredible between September and December.
168 Fangbang Middle Rd, Huangpu Qu, Shanghai Shi, China
Before it was reincarnated as a dumpling and noodle joint back in 1972, Din Tai Fung was a cooking oil business. That doesn’t sound so promising in the flavor department, but it turns out these xiao long bao are some of the best in Shanghai. Try the pork, pork and hairy crab, black truffle and pork, or the shrimp soup dumplings. And if you’re into noodles, the noodle soup with pickled mustard greens or braised beef will do the trick. No matter what you order, ask for a side of pea shoot greens to balance the rich main course with a punch of freshness.
999号 Huaihai Middle Road
Forget everything you thought you knew about the food court: In China, mall restaurants are often quite good, with queues of hungry diners eagerly plotting out what they’ll order. Ban Ban, on the fifth floor of IAPM mall, is where it’s at. These dishes are Asian fusion, but healthy, bursting with color from a mélange of vegetables. The menu is labeled clearly, so you know what’s spicy or raw, and what contains nuts or dairy. Order one of the cheekily named bowls on the menu, like Hippie in Me and HCMC Is My Jam, or put together your own with a base of brown rice, greens, or soba noodles, a protein (tofu, beef, fish, shrimp, or chicken), and toppings from creamy avocado to sour pickled cucumbers.
Fly by Jing is chef Jenny Gao’s pop-up supper club, where 10 lucky diners get to sample 10 to 15 courses of “Sichuan soul food.” Gao was born in China but raised in Toronto, and her dinner menus reflect this East-West tension. Imagine a Chinese-Italian fusion dish with organic black pork dumplings over fresh pasta, the bowl topped with a cured egg-yolk. Dinners happen twice a month and cost about $77, including one cocktail, beer, and wine. Subscribe to Gao’s email newsletter to scoop up tickets to the next culinary event; seats sell out fast.
91号 Xingguo Road
Be sure to hit this charming fusion restaurant after walking block after leafy block through the French Concession. Ginger is owned by Singaporean expat Betty Ng, who studied at the Tokyo branch of Le Cordon Bleu. Her kitchen is adept at blending Eastern flavors with Western techniques—take, for example, the Thai-influenced spicy Asian herb beef with crispy rice—lemongrass-seasoned ground beef paired with rice and lettuce cups—and the Japanese creamy nigari tofu, made in-house and served with sesame, ginger, and chives. There’s even Middle Eastern and North African dishes like hearty shakshouka dusted with dukkah, a heavenly blend of aromatic spices.
20号 Guangdong Road
Located inside the 1925 heritage building Five on the Bund, this chic space delivers on its name. Glide through a crystal curtain into a lounge decorated with swirling greens, blues, and golds, its walls lined with art from owner Michelle Garnaut’s private collection. Sip one of the 32 wines available by the glass, or sample a posh cocktail like the Saffron and Spice (saffron-infused brandy, star anise syrup, lemon, and apricot bitters). Hungry? Order a treat from Aussie chef Hamish Pollitt’s menu: Think down under, but with plenty of Southeast Asian influence, like beetroot and goat cheese tarts, beef tartare with pickled green mango and pomelo, and a truffled cheese toastie.
Taiwanese chef-owner Ling Huang landed in Shanghai after stints in New York, London, and the Seychelles, and Pirata’s tapas menu reflects her globe-trotting spirit. The octopus salad with chickpeas and fennel appears on nearly every table in the restaurant, as does the platter of mini gyros, palm-size pitas stuffed with shredded steak, onions, and French fries. If you eat seafood, order the clams with Thai basil and the ventresca (tuna belly) paired with a slice of sweet piquillo pepper, drizzled with good olive oil, and served on a slice of baguette. For dessert, go straight for the praline ice cream crepes—squares of sweet and savory ice cream rolled in crushed peanuts, topped with coriander, and wrapped in (yes) a crepe.
5 Dongping Rd, Xuhui Qu, Shanghai Shi, China
Rustic charm and good home-style cooking are what come to mind when you eat at Di Shui Dong. The Hunan eatery is always packed, a testament to how good their grub really is. If you’re unfamiliar with Hunan cuisine, it’s the spicy cousin of Sichuan’s fiery fare, but they use a more standard and tongue-friendly chili, meaning you get the kick without the mouth-numbing experience of Sichuan’s infamous peppercorns. Don’t leave without trying the cumin-rubbed ribs and the fish-head steamed with chili.
200 Yongfu Rd, Xuhui Qu, Shanghai Shi, China, 200085
Like the New York speakeasy Please Don’t Tell, the hidden Shanghai bar Keep it Quiet also has a request of drinkers in its name. In the corner of the garden at lauded Shanghainese restaurant Yongfoo Elite is a mid-size space decked out in heavy antique furnishings. Though the decor is on the dark side, a skylight and glass wall overlooking the garden let in enough light. Speakeasies can err on the side of pretentious, but Keep it Quiet doesn’t. You won’t see drinks here that require the concentrated labor of a mixologist nor the use of garnishes better suited to cocktail hour. The Rum Old Fashioned, for example, is simply rum (Bacardi and Ron Zacapa), bitters, a bit of sugar, and a squeeze of citrus.
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