Restaurants in Shanghai

While Shanghai doesn't really have a celebrated cuisine of its own, local chefs and restaurants have taken the opportunity to combine the best China has to offer with smatterings of international inspiration. Indeed, dining in Shanghai is a great opportunity for visitors to sample Chinese food of all kinds as well as interesting fusion cuisine.

Traditional Shanghai cuisine is known as benbang cai, and tends to be sweeter than food from other Chinese regions, flavoured with sugar, vinegar, ginger, and soy for a distinct flavour. Whether dining in style at a chic hotel restaurant or indulging at a roadside cart, tourists are spoiled for choice with delectable treats like xiao long bao (steamed soup-filled buns) and Shanghai hairy crab. The city's location at the mouth of the Huangpu River means fresh seafood is abundant, and the soy fields of the region provide the city's unique 'stinky tofu'.

Shanghai's food streets, some of the best of which are Huang He Lu, Yunnan Lu, and Zhapu Lu, boast a variety of cheap eateries, while flashier districts like the Bund and Luwan offer pricier fine-dining restaurants. Shanghai's major shopping malls all have food courts with many vendors offering everything from stir fries to dim sum for low prices, a great way to sample a variety of dishes.

Being a cosmopolitan city, Shanghai is home to a number of good international restaurants serving Thai, Japanese, French, Italian, and other world cuisines. There are also a number of new international chain restaurants.

The more expensive restaurants in Shanghai generally accept credit cards, but street vendors and takeaway joints usually expect cash. While hotel restaurants sometimes include a 10 to 15 percent service charge, tipping is not generally practised in Shanghai.

Hakkasan $$$$$ | Chinese
This fine-dining restaurant, located on the Bund, is part of a highly respected international chain, serving exceptional Chinese fusion cuisine. There are three different dining spaces: the Ling Ling Lounge offers a stylish setting for cocktails with beautiful views; the main dining area, known as the 'Cage', is enclosed in delicate woodwork; and there is a set of luxurious private dining rooms which can be reserved. Reservations are essential and smart casual dress is encouraged, though dress jackets are not required.

Address: 5F, 18 Zhongshan East 1st Road, Huangpu District; E-mail:; Telephone: (0)21 6321 5888

Scena $$$$$ | Italian
Scena is located within the glitzy Ritz-Carlton Shanghai Pudong Hotel and serves authentic Italian cuisine. The restaurant is on the 52nd floor of the hotel, with floor to ceiling windows and provides spectacular views over the city. Although comparatively expensive Scena gets consistent rave reviews from travellers and the service is known to be of a very high standard. Reservations are recommended.

Address: 52/F, The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai Pudong Hotel, 8 Century Avenue; Telephone: (0)21 2020 1717

Din Tai Fung $$$$$ | Chinese
This Shanghai restaurant serves Chinese staples like wonton soup, sweet-smoky fried fish, and braised bamboo shoots, but what it's known for is the best xiao long bao (steamed soup buns) in the city. They're roughly ten times what you'd pay at a street stall, but most who have tried them say they're worth it. Located in the Super Brand Mall, the walls are covered in watercolour sketches of famous Chinese celebrities. Din Tai Fung is a child-friendly restaurant, and even has special Mickey Mouse cutlery for kids.

Address: 123 Xing Ye Road; Telephone: (0)21 6385 8378

The Camel $$$$$ | Gastropubs
For those looking for a sports bar in Shanghai to have a pint and watch the game, The Camel is the best place in town. The restaurant is broken up into three viewing areas, so multiple games can be seen simultaneously on the 14 flat-screen televisions. The menu is standard gastropub, serving classics like fish and chips, steak, burgers, and pies, and there's a good selection of beers and cocktails to go with them.

Address: 1 Yue Yang Road (near Dong Ping Road); Telephone: 021 6433 2917


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