Where to eat in Shanghai? Shanghai Restaurant Reviews

First things first – I just want to let you know that if there’s one place you should book WELL in advance of your Shanghai culinary adventure (I couldn’t get a seat at short notice) it is Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet. Located in an undisclosed location with one sole table and only 10 seats per night (and a 20 course ‘Avant Garde’ multi-sensory menu experience), this is a case of book early or be very disappointed. So I’m crossing my fingers for you that your trip is a while off. There is one caveat however – it is expensive. But it’s probably one of the most insane, immersive dining experiences you’ll ever have the chance to experience. Do whatever it takes to get a seat!

So Ultraviolet aside, here’s where I recommend for your Shanghai dining journey:

  • You’ve landed, you’re potentially jet lagged – the fresh and flavourful Yunnan Folk Cuisine at Lost Heaven is the perfect remedy. Vibrant and delicious food in a moody Asian lounge setting is sure to make you instantly feel like you’re somewhere magical far far away (well, you are).
  • Check the weather forecasts for a clear day and tie in a lunch visit to the quintessential dumpling chain, Din Tai Fung, with a journey up 100 floors of the World Financial Centre in Pudong. Go crazy snapping photos of The Bund and the Pearl Tower from this awesome look out point – then when you descend you’ll find Din Tai Fung just around the corner from where you exit the lookout. Order the pork Xiao Long Bao. No need to ask why. Then when they arrive, order some more. Just trust me on this.
  • Seeing as you’ve been blessed with a lovely clear day in Shanghai, continue your sightseeing mission with a visit to the Ritz-Carlton nearby. Exit the World Financial Centre and make a beeline on the overpass towards the Pearl Tower. Just before you reach it descend the stairs to your left to street level, walk ahead and around the corner to your left to find the entrance to The Ritz-Carltion.  Ascend to the 52nd floor to catch an amazing sunset over The Bund from Aura (check the sunset times for your season). It has the best sunset view in town, trust me! No need to bother with ascending the JW Marriott if you’re been here – their view pales in comparison.
  • Once the clock has struck 5:30 your second stop in The Ritz-Carlton opens – Flair. From a lift near the entrance of Aura you’ll rise another 6 floors to a beautiful rooftop bar – stay and watch the truly amazing dancing Pearl Tower light show that begins around 6:30 and goes until 10pm. You can grab some great photos of this from the outside terrace here. You won’t want to leave in a hurry!
  • Are you visiting on a Sunday? If so, make a booking for the brunch at the truly amazing Otto e Mezzo Bombana, the Shanghai outpost of the Hong Kong 3 Michelin Star establishment. It’s a great value way to check out this top notch spot. If not, just go anyway! It’s not cheap, but it delivers on quality and service. This stunner is sure to be the pinnacle of your Shanghai dining experience (it was for me). Check out my full review of this fantastic fine dining restaurant here.
  • Get up early and in the thick of Shanghai dumpling culture on Huanghe Lu. Head straight to Jia Jia Tang Bao, often named Shanghai’s best Xiao Long Bao (a subject of much debate). There’s no English translated sign and good luck asking your taxi driver which store front it is…so just look for the queue. There is a brief English menu at the counter when you enter if you ask – you pay on entry, then you sit and wait. A lot of varieties will have sold out by 11am – so go early and enjoy a delicious breakfast Shanghai style.
  • If you’ve still got room, head across the road to Yang’s Dumplings.  If you’re full, take a break and go for a stroll in the famous People’s Park first just down the road and burn off some dumplings! On the chance you are here on a weekend, you’ll get to experience the unique ‘Marriage Market’ held near the entrance. Definitely something you won’t have seen before! So back to Yang’s – it’s a must visit to taste the iconic Shanghainese soup dumpling, the shengjianbao. These are a bit like XLB but have a thicker skin, are much bigger and fried to a crunchy consistency. Delish, and perhaps the cheapest meal you’ve ever had.
  • Time to do a complete 180 from these yummy cheap eats and head to one of the best restaurants in Asia – Mr and Mrs Bund. Created by Paul Pairet (also behind Ultraviolet) it’s a classy French establishment on The Bund with a large menu, large dining room and a terrace view that will blow you away.
  • Sick of dumplings, Chinese food and heck, probably foie gras and truffles by now too? I have the antidote for you! El Willy! Located in a rather non-descript building on The Bund, the new home of El Willy delivers some seriously innovative spanish food with plenty of personality courtesy of chef ‘Willy’ Trullas Moreno. He’s a bit famous around these parts and I soon saw why. I was pretty hesitant in bothering to check this place out while in Shanghai despite all the recommendations – I mean, do you really need to spend your time in Shanghai eating Spanish food? The correct answer is yes. You might also want to check out some of his other creations – Tomatito, el Coctel and Elefante for more Willy goodness.
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