Whether you prefer to dip into a beer-soaked bar from an alley or seek out haute Italian cuisine, Shanghai has a food experience for you. We rolled into the city queasy and tired from a 14-hour flight, and found our bellies and hearts soothed by its food right away. Here are a few of of our favorite spots.
1. Lost Heaven (Above)
This restaurant on the Bund is inspired by the cuisine of China’s Yunnan region. After browsing through their picture-filled menu and tasting the aromatic food, we added another area to our “someday” travel list.
Each dish we had was artful, stuffed with herbs and spices and incredibly fresh. The chicken salad below, dotted with friendly cherry tomatoes, woke us right up from our jet lag. Lost Heaven is a must.
2. The Highline
This swanky 50’s era restaurant, located in the Ascott hotel, makes you feel a bit like you’re in Don Draper-era New York. We slated it as hangover-treating food in our itinerary, and were more than cured by its properties.
This French toast needed no filter.
Neil’s crispy-skin duck was perfect in every way.
3. Din Tai Fung
This world-famous dumpling franchise needs no introduction. I’d visited it a few times in Glendale, California, and have poked more than a few chopsticks into some xiaolongbao, or soup dumplings. We stopped by a location in the Super Brand Mall in Pudong and enjoyed the local specialty, hairy crab.
4. Otto e Mezzo
Italian for 8.5, this Italian restaurant gives you a skyrise view of the Bund. With hawk-like service, the staff ensures you don’t spend a minute hungry, immediately bringing you the below amuse-bouches, which were creamy, fatty and succulent.
Portions are a bit small to Americans like us, but luckily they give you plenty of bread to cushion all that wine.
For whatever reason, I ate more fresh truffles than I have in my entire life in China. And I’m not talking truffle oil. Real truffles, shaved right in front of you. They have a much subtler, more mysterious flavor.
5. Mr. & Mrs. Bund
I really wanted to go to Ultraviolet, Paul Pairet’s conceptual, Michelin-starred restaurant renowned the world over for its multi-sensory experience and 22 courses. Alas, this IMAX theater-like restaurant costs around $500 per person, plus it requires you to book 90 days in advance. Maybe someday! Luckily, those who miss out can still go to Paul Pairet’s spot on the Bund, Mr. & Mrs. Bund. We found it fairly easy to get a reservation for our last night in Shanghai.
We were seated right by the window, where we could see boats gliding up and down the Bund at night. Stunned by the options, we chose a tasting menu. The highlight of the meal was the rack of lamb, below. The menu as a whole was conceptual, well-rounded and adventurous.
This insanely hip breakfast spot in Jing’An had us waiting for a spot for over an hour. We bummed around the neighborhood and took pictures, and were finally given a seat at the bar. Inside, it was warm and smelled like mulled wine, which we found common in Shanghai in the winter.
We indulged in their specialty, crepes thoughtfully stuffed with frisee, pecans and candied apples. Definitely worth a bit of a wait.