One of the world’s richest boomtowns isn’t short of top-notch restaurants, but Shanghai has plenty of modestly priced eateries and terrific street food. Local residents love the new, so you can find cuisine from across China and the world. It’s the best city in the country for working up an appetite.
Thanks to its sweeping river views, The Bund offers sophisticated restaurants, many run by top international chefs, such as Jean Georges (French cuisine), Whampoa Club (classic Shanghai food) and Laris and M on the Bund, run by Aussie chefs. Luwan district is crammed with eateries and atmospheric teahouses and restaurants lodged in colonial-era mansions.
Streets lined by Chinese restaurants include Yunnan Lu, Zhapu Lu and Huang He Lu. Wujiang Lu is upmarket and features some Western choices. Many malls such as Raffles City Mall and Hong Kong Plaza have basement food halls. Finally, fill up for a few dollars on street food such as dumplings, onion pancakes, leek pies or meat skewers.
Our top picks
Table No 1
No. 1-3 Maojiayuan Road, Huangpu
The once overlooked, southern end of the Bund has become recently trendy, and seen the appearance of more relaxed eateries, such as this one run by British chef Jason Atherton, a Gordon Ramsey protégé. An industrial-style decor and communal tables reflect the relatively uncomplicated style of the dishes, such as caramelised scallops, squid-ink risotto and poached chicken. There’s also a good wine list and great sharing menus that encourage conviviality.
No. 3 The Bund 3 Zhong Shan Dong Yi Road
At the chic Whampoa Club, which recalls 1930s Shanghai glamour, chef Jeremy Leung reinvigorates local cuisine with his contemporary takes on abalone, smoked fish and braised pork, with a tea sommelier on hand to match the dishes with a choice of 50 top-quality brews. The restaurant is part of the uber-chic Three on the Bund complex, and has fabulous views over the river towards the glittering lights of Pudong.
Eat like a local
Crystal Jade Restaurant
Second Floor, Building 6-7, Xintiandi South Block, 123 Xingye Lu
Locals queue up at Crystal Jade Restaurant for chilli-studded noodles, steamed dumplings and roast pork buns sticky with sweet sauce. Many believe this restaurant serves the best xiao longbao in Shanghai. This Shanghai obsession is a dumpling with an almost translucent skin that encases a hot broth rich in flavor, tricky to eat, but absolutely delicious.
41 Tian Ping Road
Hairy crab, considered a delicacy, is a true passion of the Shanghainese, usually eaten steamed and dipped in ginger, soy sauce and vinegar. Some say the best is served at Jesse, a raucous restaurant where you can tuck into crab marinated in rice wine, crab stuffed in beancurd, or crab served with steamed egg-white custard.
211 Tianyaoqiao Lu
If you’re after top local flavours, head to Shanghai Uncle, which offers modern versions of Shanghai classics, with Asian and Western influences mixed in, and is among the best Chinese food in town. Try the superlative crispy pork, traditional smoked fish, handmade noodles and, for astronomical prices, fresh lobster dishes.