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Food & Dining in Shanghai


Shanghai is home to some of the most varied and high quality cuisine in China. As a world destination, top-class restaurants are definitely one of the things people remember on a trip to Shanghai. If you have been travelling through China for some time, this may be your first chance to indulge in the international cuisine supported by Shanghai’s diverse population. Competition is fierce for French, Vietnamese, Japanese and Italian cuisine. Satisfying interpretations of Chinese regional cuisines, from the hearty roasts of the north to the spicy creations of Szechuan, and even difficult-to-find Yunnan choices make a traveller wish there were more than three meals to be had in a day.

Whether you are looking for Chinese restaurants, Western-style dining options or simply a quick snack, the problem is often that there are so many restaurants in Shanghai that the choice is almost bewildering. Dining out in China is an extremely social affair and Shanghai is no exception. Whilst the city's restaurants can become rather crowded and noisy at times, this is what the dining experience is all about in Shanghai – plenty of atmosphere, food, chopsticks and rice wine.

The traditional Shanghai cuisine, Hucai, largely consists of two types, Benbang (local) and Haipai (fusion). Cantonese cuisine is also incredibly popular in Shanghai, and due to its location between the Yangtze River and the South China Sea, seafood, particularly the freshwater variety, is featured in many of its culinary offerings.

Typical of most Chinese cities, mealtimes in Shanghai are relatively early when compared to western standards. You are able to start your breakfast at 6 am, lunch at 11 pm and evening meal as 5 pm. Most restaurants tend to close between 9 pm and 11:30 pm, or slightly after, so don't expect a late-night out when eating in Shanghai, unless you intend to head elsewhere when you have finished dining. However, some dining venues do stay open later and a relatively small selection operate 24 hours.

Places to Dine

Nanjing East Road

With so many things calling for your attention as you walk down Nanjing Road, restaurants promising delicious dim sum or American style burgers are a tempting choice. If you crave the comfort of American ribs, Tony Roma’s will not disappoint. If you seek traditional Chinese food, head over to Gongdelin Vegetarian Restaurant for satisfying flavours and fresh dishes. A comfortable café with wine by the glass and a staple of pastas and salads is found at Kathleen’s 5 Rooftop Restaurant on People’s Square. For family style Italian, dip into Palladio for authentic cuisine. Further investigate the French influence in this Paris of the East at Allure.

The Bund

Perhaps the priciest neighbourhood to dine in, but with most restaurants and lounges sporting waterfront balconies and menus that justify the price tag, the Bund plays host to several of the Shanghai bars, lounges and restaurants that make world-wide dining guides. M on the Bund is home to a high quality family of restaurants, including the French Jean Georges, widely popular for weekend brunch. Another building that has made a culinary name for itself is Three On The Bund, which houses New Heights cocktail lounge, the home of Shanghai haute cuisine Whampoa Club, and French supper club Hamilton House. The collection is crowned with the top notch fusion restaurant Laris.

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