From modern Michelin to local hole-in-the-wall.
If you’re scrolling through this list looking for Western flavors, unfortunately you won’t find it. Besides Ultraviolet, we want travelers to visit Shanghai understanding the depth of Chinese cuisine which encompasses dynasties worth of studies and philosophies. Today’s Shanghai is filled with restaurants featuring chefs emerging from every part of the world. But to taste the true Shanghai, from modern Michelin to local hole-in-the-wall, here’s where you should devour:
Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet – Best Experimental
Often referred to as the first multi-sensory restaurant in the world, there’s only one table with 10 seats featuring a 20+ course dinner. Without fancy decor or grandiose views, French chef Paul Pairet delivers a dynamic culinary experience infused with innovative technology tailored to the taste of every dish. Pinned as “psycho-taste,” Pairet wants guests to understand how emotions, memories and ideas can be triggered by the act of savor. This is certainly a one-of-a-kind dining experience to last a lifetime.
As the only 3-star Michelin restaurant in Shanghai, T’ang Court’s dishes are as silky and refined as its setting. Located at The Langham, the globally renowned restaurant is led by Chinese Executive Chef, Justin Tan 譚仕業, the menu spotlights the best of Cantonese delicacies, including: Braised asparagus and bamboo pith topped with crab meat in chicken broth, T’ang Court salted chicken, and Double-boiled bamboo bird’s nest with white fungus and apricot kernel accompanied with Chinese sweets.
Fu 1088 福 1088 – Best Shanghainese Cuisine
375 Zhenning Rd, Changning Qu, China, 200040 (map)
Definitely make a reservation at this Michelin-recommended hotspot, it’s always booked. The beautiful decor inside a Spanish-style mansion is an European contrast to its array of traditional Shanghainese plates with a modern twist. Dining here feels like a delicious throwback where you can dive into a great lesson on local culinary culture.
Di Shui Dong 滴水洞 – Best Local Vibe
56 Maoming S Rd, Huwan District China, 200000 (map)
We’re taking a quick turn here, from glam elegance to cheap and dirty. But in the most delectable way! Di Shui Dong is so popular that it has two locations in Shanghai, and it’s great for those famous Chinese spicy dishes, from tofu to fried fish. Everything is even better with sips of cold Chinese beer! Truly a fun, local spot where you’ll run into expats.
Haidilao 海底撈火鍋 – Best Hot Pot
A MUST in Shanghai! First, you come to Shanghai, you’ve gotta try hotpot. Haidilao is so popular that it has numerous locations through Asia, let alone Shanghai. So find the one closest to you and dive right in. The pepper used in the pot ensures a sizzling, blazing experience to heat up your entire body and soul! NOTE: Order “Kung Fu Noodles,” it comes with a chef’s show on noddle-twirling.
Whampoa Club 黃埔會 – Best Modern TwisT
Dedicated to sustaining the traditions behind Chinese cooking, Whampoa Club is a luxurious and contemporary dining experience. Hong Kong designer Alan Chan pays tribute to Shanghai’s 1930s glamour by implementing Art Deco Style. Dishes including: Steamed Tiger Grouper with Bittet Orange, and Stewed Sea Whelks with white Paeony Root combine Shanghainese and Cantonese methods.
South Beauty 俏江南 – Best Sichuan Style
With a more local flair, South Beauty has long been known for its modern Sichuan cuisine that features the best spicy fish in town. During recent years, the restaurant opened several locations throughout Asia, but the best flavors still remain in Shanghai. This is a personal favorite, if you can endure the numbing from spices on your tongue afterwards.
Xiaoyang Shengjian 小楊生煎館 – Most Popular Baos/Buns
For two decades, Xiaoyang Shengjian has made a name for itself in a city never short of vegetable buns. The staff is up at 4 a.m. by dawn every morning, preparing the day’s meat and vegetables to be stuffed and grilled inside the best buns (or baos) often featured in blogs and magazines. There will be a line, but these sure make an amazing afternoon snack!
Lost Heaven 花馬天堂 – Best Yunan Cuisine
Yunnanese cuisine, partly-inspired by Vietnam, may not have been on your radar, but it’s worthy of a fantastic meal that you won’t forget. Lost Heaven’s interior oozes French colonial influences, which plays a fun variance to the rich and spicy zest of the menu. As one of the most popular restaurants in Shanghai, Lost Heaven lives up to its reputation of spotlighting Chinese provincial cuisine on an elegant stage.
Jia Jia Tang Bao 佳家湯包 – Best Soup Dumplings
90 Huanghe Rd, Huangpu Qu, Shanghai Shi, China, 200000 (map)
Don’t even try to compare it to Din Tai Fung because you just can’t (besides, go to Taipei for that!) In Shanghai, THE soup dumplings you want to indulge in are Jia Jia Tang Bao. And you’ve got to hit up the address we provide above, the other ones aren’t the same. Juicy meat on the inside, and steamy soup dumplings are truly the best travelers’ treat!