Though Shanghai is a city thriving with dining diversity, cheerful Western food is hard to come by. But rest assured – great hot dogs, gourmet burgers, bagels and quesadillas do exist in the city.
From imaginative Italian cuisine to secretive multi-sensory degustation menus, Shanghai has a wealth of top international restaurants to choose from. We list six of the very best in the city.
This is a relatively new Italian joint, with a classic yet casual vibe. Very warm decor with wooden tables and hipster metal chairs, dim lights, wine bottles and spice jars lining the walls, a fab little bar inviting you for a glass of their house red, and friendly service. Their pizzas are excellent, all made by their young chef, priced at around RMB 80. Italian classics like Osso Buco, pastas and the salads are delicious. The manager, the chef and the bartender are always ready for a chat.
Opening hours: 11:30 – 14:30 (lunch), 17:30 – 23:00 (dinner), 1:00 (for drinks)
Address: 993 Wuding Lu, near Jiaozhou Lu
One of the most imaginative restaurants in the city, local celebrity chef Paul Pairet’s revolutionary 10-seat multi-sensory experience Ultraviolet was years in the making. A cross between a James Bond lair and mad scientist laboratory, each of the 20 ‘avant garde’ courses is paired with 360 degree video projections, surround sound music and even custom scents.
One dish for example, ‘Foie gras can’t quit’, is an extraordinary edible ‘cigarette’ of foie gras wrapped in a shining fruit-flavoured ‘skin’ and presented on a shining silver ashtray. You dip it in ‘cabbage ash’ while a projection of cigarette ash wheels around you on screen. It’s a truly sensory-bending dining experience.
Get creative French dishes on a bewilderingly long menu – think beef tartare, foie gras crumble, picnic chicken with garlic aioli, ‘long short beef ribs’ and a lemon tart served in a whole lemon. The vibe is loud, almost nightclub-y, and the people-watching is top-notch. Better still, head there after 10.30pm and they offer a late-night two-course set menu with plenty of choice from the top dishes for around only 200RMB.
Address: Ultraviolet keep their location secret, but guests meet at Mr & Mrs Bund, Sixth Floor, 18 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu, near Nanjing Dong Lu
Table No. 1
This is one of our favourite restaurants in the city. The dazzlingly creative tapas-style dishes were created Jason Atherton, a Gordon Ramsay protege and the man behind London restaurant, Maze. But while he’s not in the kitchen most of the time, chef Scott Melville has kept the quality of the food high. Dishes include gorgeous razor clams with chorizo; beef cheek with snails in bone marrow; and a ‘PBJ’ dessert with peanut butter and jam on creamed rice crispies.
Address: 1 Ground Floor, The Waterhouse, 1-3 Maojiayuan Lu, near Waima Lu
Jean Georges is an old and high-level French restaurant. Every dish is professionally made to be an art work. The goose liver and the steak are the most popular and famous dishes. The chocolate desserts have also won a good reputation from customers.
High-quality and considerate service is another attraction. Sitting by a window appreciating the scenery of the Bund, you will find enjoying the romantic atmosphere is a wonderful experience.
Opening hours: Mon – Fri 11:30 – 14:30, 18:00 – 22:00; Sat – Sun 11:30 – 15:00, 18:00 – 22:00
Address: Floor 4, 3 on The Bund, 3 Zhongshan East First Road, Huangpu District
Tel: 021 6321 7733
Light & Salt
A multi-concept venue, also home to a bookstore, speakeasy-style bar, print works and creative vintage design space, Light & Salt is housed in the historic former YWCA building in the Rockbund complex behind The Bund. The restaurant element, Ms Ding’s Dining, is headed up by executive chef Rafael Qing, whose novel menu is meant to represent the influx of non-Chinese food into Shanghai during the 1930s, with this translating to red meat and seafood-centric creations illustrating a culinary confluence of Russia, Europe and Asia.
Kicking off, the beef tartare from La Belle Époque menu section looks like a work of art and tastes even better. The waves of squid ink are plentiful enough to offer a light, salty moistener to the delicious Melbourne-sourced beef, featuring cinnamon and ginger as part of its pickling liquid. With a remarkable service team that has unexpected humour and passion, this new multi-concept venue punches above the weight of its pricing.
Address: Sixth Floor, 133 Yuanmingyuan Lu, Near Xianggang Lu, Huangpu District
With a rustic chic interior from designers Neri & Hu, the new Italian from renowned New York-based chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten is a more relaxed space than his eponymous fine dining restaurant on the fourth floor of the Three on the Bund building, an approach reflected in the reasonable prices.
While Mercato isn’t cheap, it provides better value than any comparable restaurant on The Bund (they also do a late night set menu and an early dining special for even better value). The menu is Italian in a broad sense, dotted with quirky touches from Vongerichten and head chef Sandy Yoon, rather than a faithful adherence to tradition.