We asked WildChina travel designer, Isabel Wang, who spent many weekends of her youth slipping off to Shanghai to explore the city’s culinary scene while attending university in nearby Hangzhou, to share her personal list of where to eat in Shanghai, from exquisite Michelin star sit-downs to hidden linong hole-in-the-walls.
As the culinary epicenter of the Yangtze River Delta region, Shanghai cuisine fuses traditional Chinese dishes from neighboring provinces with the influence of international flavors, making it a culinary melting pot. One of the signature features of Shanghai cuisine is the use of sugar and soy sauce, creating dishes that are rich in taste and aroma. The city’s fine dining scene offers an array of outstanding restaurants, catering both traditional Shanghainese dishes and innovative fusion creations.
- Best Gourmet Restaurant in Shanghai
- The Local’s Favorite Restaurant in Shanghai
- Best Hole in the Wall in Shanghai
- The Trendy Restaurant in Shanghai
- WOW-Factor Dining Experience in Shanghai
Best Gourmet Restaurant in Shanghai
Din Tai Fung has earned its place as one of the world’s top ten best restaurants, a distinction bestowed upon it by esteemed food critic Ken Hom in a celebrated 1993 feature in The New York Times. The name Din Tai Fung has become synonymous with perfection, with its renowned xiaolongbao (little steamed dumpling) capturing the imagination of food lovers worldwide. Each bite unveils a delightful combination of freshness, juiciness and delicately thin skin crafted with 18 folds. This culinary gem is an absolute must-visit when in Shanghai.
Isabel’s favorite dishes: Hot and Sour Soup 酸辣汤, Steamed Chicken Soup 蒸鸡汤, Pork Dumplings 猪肉小笼包, Chicken Dumplings 鸡肉小笼包, Spicy Won Tons 辣云吞 and Stir-fried Vegetables 炒时蔬
Location: 2F, Xintiandi Plaza, No. 123 Xingye Road 兴业路123号新天地广场2楼
Phone: +86 2163858378
The Local’s Favorite Restaurant in Shanghai
Nestled within a sleek office building with sweeping views of People’s Park, Jardin de Jade attracts the bustling local business community during lunchtime. While the high demand may occasionally strain the service team, the offerings at this spacious and stylish establishment are worth the visit. Delighting diners with a menu of authentic Shanghainese dishes and the flavors of Jiangnan cuisine, the restaurant presents a modern twist on traditional favorites. Complemented by seasonal specials, each dish is artfully presented, delivering a culinary experience that captures the essence of the region.
Isabel’s favorite dishes: Gong Bao Prawn Balls 宫保虾球, Shanghai-styled Braised Pork 东坡肉 and Signature Smoked and Marinated Duck 招牌酱鸭
Location: 3rd F, No. 288 Nanjing Road West 南京西路288号创兴金融中心3楼
Phone: +86 2133663777
Best Hole in the Wall in Shanghai
Old Jesse, one of the most renowned culinary haunts in Shanghai, may surprise you with its small and cozy setting. Located in a charming two-story house, this beloved restaurant is highly sought-after, and reservations are a must to secure a table. Old Jesse is celebrated for serving up an exquisite array of Shanghainese delicacies, showcasing the flavors that have made it a true legend in the culinary scene. Despite its small size, Old Jesse garnered a stellar reputation and is a favorite among Chinese actors and entertainers.
Isabel’s favorite dishes: Pan-fried Mandarin Fish with Rice Wine & Butter 酒香鲥鱼, Stir-fried Fresh Water Shrimp 爆炒河虾, Dry-braised Prawn 干煸对虾 and Sweet and Sour Sesame Small Pork Chops 糖醋芝麻小排
Location: No. 41 Tianping Road 天平路41号
Phone: +86 2162829260
The Trendy Restaurant in Shanghai
Lost Heaven is a remarkable restaurant in Shanghai that draws inspiration from the rich artistic and cultural heritage of a province far to the west, Yunnan. The restaurant’s design showcases the original patterns, handiwork and embroideries of the Tibetan, Yi, Naxi, Dai, Miao and Yao ethnic minorities. With a commitment to authenticity, the founders of Lost Heaven tirelessly explore the indigenous recipes and cooking techniques of the Yunnan region. They combine what they learn with Western and Southeast Asian cuisine, resulting in a tantalizing array of exquisite dishes. This approach has made Lost Heaven a one-of-a-kind restaurant serving Yunnan folk cuisine and an absolute must-try dining experience in Shanghai. The prices at Lost Heaven are reasonable considering its prime location and breathtaking views. It’s an ideal place to impress friends or enjoy a romantic date. However, due to its popularity, it is advisable to make a reservation to secure your table.
Top tip: don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy pre- or post-dinner drinks on Lost Heaven’s rooftop terrace, offering some fantastic vistas out over the Pudong River.
Isabel’s favorite dishes: Shrimp Paste Spring Rolls 虾酱春卷, Wild Vegetable Pancake in Yunnan Style 云南野菜饼, Chicken with Green Pepper & Spring Onion in Dali Style 大理葱椒鸡, Spicy and Sour Shrimp 酸辣虾 and Stir-fried Beef in Lijiang Style 丽江炒牛肉
Location: No. 17A Yan’an Road East 延安东路17号甲
Phone: +86 2163300967
WOW-Factor Dining Experience in Shanghai
Ultraviolet, which holds a whopping three Michelin stars, was founded in May 2012 by the esteemed French chef Paul Pairet. It stands out as the world’s first multi-sensory dining experience, harmoniously integrating sight, sound and smell to enhance the food through a controlled and tailored atmosphere. The restaurant has a single table of 10 seats and serves a single 20+ course dinner menu for only ten guests per night. Pairet’s exceptional cuisine, inspired by his French background and experience working in Paris, Hong Kong, Sydney, Jakarta and Istanbul, results in a delightful blend of experimentation, comfort and simplicity. Advanced reservations are essential to secure a seat at this unparalleled gastronomic destination.
Location: 6F, No. 18 Zhongshan Dong Yi Road 中山东一路18号6楼
Phone: +86 2161425198