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Eat More Plants! 20+ Vegetarian Restaurants in Shanghai

From old-school traditions to modern specialists, this is the world of vegetarian restaurants in our city.
By May 13, 2020 Dining

TELL EVERYONE

A traditional Chinese diet has always been wonderfully omnivorous. Going vegetarian in China used to be about following the Buddhist doctrines on ahimsa, or non-violence, eating at the canteens of Buddhist temples after offering incense or a ritual to perform on the first and fifteenth day of every lunar month.

As plant-based diets grew in popularity in the West in recent years, going vegetarian has picked up in Shanghai for other reasons: one, it's healthy, and two, it's super hip.

Shanghai's vegetarian landscape in 2020 is a mix of these two schools of thought, with old-school places emphasizing the tradition of mock meat, and new school places trying to innovate to keep diners interested. We even have vegan sushi.

There's never been a better time to skip meat in Shanghai. We visited more than 20 places showing off the breadth of the flesh-free world to make this list. Eat yer greens!

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THE ORIGINAL GANGSTERS


Chunfeng Songyue Lou (春风松月楼)


99 Jiujiaochang Lu, near Fangbang Zhong Lu View ListingTaxi Printout




Shanghai's oldest vegan restaurant, running since 1910. First floor serves snacks and small eats like noodles, dumplings and pastry, canteen-style. The second floor does mock meat dishes. They also have a few windows at the door that serve snacks like veggie buns.

Godly (功德林)


445 Nanjing Xi Lu, near Chengdu Bei Lu View ListingTaxi Printout




Around since 1922. Strong, strong flavors here (perhaps overwhelming for some), and a lot of mock meat. The branch on Nanjing Lu is the most popular one, dressed up in traditional stylings and rosewood furniture. They also have a branch on Wuyuan Lu.


SPECIALISTS


Dancing Dumpling (舞蔬尚饺)


177 Guo'an Lu, near Sanmen Lu View ListingTaxi Printout




An exclusively vegetarian dumpling spot. Their signature dish is the juicy soup dumpling, the xiao long bao, filled with diced mushroom, tofu, and a savory vegetarian jelly (it’s usually made with pork skin). A bit far away though.

Maruyama (丸山精进料理)


451 Dapu Lu, near Neihuan Gaojia Lu View ListingTaxi Printout




Maruyama is the first — and currently the only — place in Shanghai for vegan sushi, vegan temaki sushi, vegan gyoza (Japanese potstickers) and many other vegan izakaya dishes.

Yi Ye Yi Shijie (一叶一世界蔬食火锅)


818 Mall, 5/F, 818 Nanjing Xi Lu, near Shimen Yi Lu View ListingTaxi Printout




A quiet vegan hotpot place just off Wujiang Lu. Soup base is made from Tibetan tea, mixed with Chinese dates, figs, and other herbs. The decor is muted and soothing, decorated with Tibetan Buddhist style ornaments without feeling too touristy.

Yan Ge Ge (焱格格蔬食料理火锅)


1/F, 800 Changde Lu, near Kangding Lu View ListingTaxi Printout




Jing'an vegetarian hotpot joint down an alley off Changde Lu. They serve organic veggie hotpot with their customized two-tier copper hotpot, in addition to Shanghai home-style dishes such as braised spring bamboo shoots with baiye (tofu skin knots), fried “hairy crab roe” and shepherd's purse wonton.


AT THE TEMPLES


Jen Dow (台湾人道素菜)


2/F, 151-157 Yuyuan Lu, near Wanhangdu Lu View ListingTaxi Printout




(Currently closed for health reasons but will re-open. Call ahead before going.)

Jing'an Temple outsources their eatery to this Taiwanese chain. The shop is divided into three levels: a cafeteria on floor one with a great curry set and a bakery; floors two and three house fancier round tables and a proper sit-down restaurant atmosphere. It's located just behind the temple.

Longhua Su Zhai (龙华素斋)


2787 Longhua Lu, near Longhua Xi Lu View ListingTaxi Printout


(Currently closed for health reasons but will re-open. Call ahead before going.)

Vegetarian restaurant inside Longhua Temple, known for its noodles and vegetarian desserts. The arhat noodle at 15rmb is simple but delicious. Interior looks like a canteen and gets crowded on the 1st and 15th day of lunar calendar, when people eat here after their monthly worship at the temple. That's an experience in itself.

Jade Buddha Temple Su Zhai (玉佛寺素斋)


1017 Jiangning Lu, near Anyuan Lu View ListingTaxi Printout


(Currently closed for health reasons but will re-open. Call ahead before going.)

Yufo Temple Su Zhai is the vegetarian restaurant at Jade Buddha Temple. There's a canteen with soup noodles, arhat noodles and wontons. Food is — let's be honest — average, but the environment is cool. There's also a nicer sit-down restaurant attached that gets busy on weekends.


THE KINDA STYLISH ONES


Green Friday


1/F, Bldg 1, 50 Puhuitang Lu, near Caoxi Bei Lu View ListingTaxi Printout




This used to be a vegetarian-friendly restaurant that also did decidedly non-vegetarian things like grilled salmon salad and steaks. Now Green Friday now only serves vegan food, using plant-based meat alternatives for dishes like Mexican salad (78rmb) or pandan chicken (62rmb). They also do popular healthy bites like an acai bowl, and sell plants and gardening stuff on the first floor.

Hui Yuan (慧缘素食)


45-49 Huaihai Dong Lu, near Renmin Lu View ListingTaxi Printout




Huiyuan does a wide range of Shanghainese classics and home-style dishes, as well as Sichuan style “dry pot” and some salads and pasta. Like most other local vegetarian restaurants, the mock meat is made of soy protein and konjac. The place is up-to-date, with iPad menus, and a clean, spacious dining room. Food is great and they even serve non-alcoholic beer. "Beer".

Jiandan(笕箪)


537 Anyuan Lu, near Jiaozhou Lu View ListingTaxi Printout




An East-meet-West style bistro near Jade Buddha Temple, opened in 2020. They make earthy Chinese dishes with a twist, like black truffle and scallion oil noodle soup or pecan pumpkin soup.

Pure & Whole


Shanghai Center 1/F, 1376 Nanjing Xi Lu, near Xikang Lu View ListingTaxi Printout




Pure & Whole has been around for around a decade. Solid, dependable option, it's a Western-style vegetarian restaurant with things like salads, wraps, veg burgers, and pastas as well as smoothies and cleansing drinks.

The Lakeside Veggie (临湖素食)


2/F, 230 Ruiping Lu, near Kaibin Lu View ListingTaxi Printout




Vegetarian restaurant near West Bund. The name refers to the first one which opened on the banks of the West Lake in Hangzhou: this one's on the second floor of a shopping mall. They serve homey Jiangnan and Chinese dishes without much fake meat. Sweet-and-sour lotus root is one of their signatures, among many other savory mushroom dishes.


THE RELIABLE TUESDAY NIGHT DINNER PLACES


D'Lish


25 Yanqing Lu, near Donghu Lu View ListingTaxi Printout




Wholesome, lunchable vegetarian food, with more emphasis on delivery and take-out. It's been a staple in the neighborhood through two previous iterations, including Gwen's Jiang. Taiwanese owner Gwen and the rest of the staff are super friendly, and it has a down-to-earth streetside canteen feel to it.

If Vegan


2/F, 408 Shaanxi Bei Lu, near Beijing Xi Lu View ListingTaxi Printout




Mixed Western and Chinese options availalble here, from braised eggplant with soy to quinoa salad and vegan pizza, and the veggie spring rolls pictured above. Nice touch: iPad menus with pictures and (very welcome) English options.

Vegan Delights (铭圣养生素餐厅)


768 Xietu Lu, near Dapu Lu View ListingTaxi Printout




Buddhist vegan Shanghainese restaurant that has been around for over a decade. They have dishes like “crab roe”, soy sauce “short ribs” and “squirrel fish” — so many air quotes — with nods to various classic Chinese dishes. There’s no animal products or any of the usual "five spices" in their food, making it a popular choice for monks hosting dinner parties. Of course monks host dinner parties!

Vegetarian Lifestyle (枣子树)


258 Fengxian Lu, near Jiangning Lu View ListingTaxi Printout




Known to some as Vegetarian Lifestyle, to others as Zaozi Shu, and others still as Jujube Tree, this popular vegetarian Chinese restaurant specializes in mock meat dishes.

Wu Guan Tang (五观堂素食)


349 Xinhua Lu, near Dingxi Lu View ListingTaxi Printout




Serene and popular vegetarian option in a lane house on Xinhua Lu with a great hidden rooftop patio. The menu is full of inventive, seasonal dishes, and the food is thoughtful and full of flavor. You won't find mock meat in brown sauce or unidentifiable molecular spheres here.


THE FANCY ONES


Fu He Hui (福和慧)


1037 Yuyuan Lu, near Jiangsu Lu View ListingTaxi Printout




Fortune, Harmony, Wisdom. These are the the translations of the three characters that comprise the name of this posh vegetarian Chinese restaurant. It's courtesy of restaurateur Fang Yuan and Tony Lu, the culinary brain trust behind the famed restaurants Fu 1039, 1088 and 1015. Cuisine ranges from traditional to experimental. Has held a Michelin star since 2017. It's all set menus and you better book ahead. Veeeery pricy.

L.Bodhi (叶叶菩提)


1/F, No. 6, 160 Taiyuan Lu, near Yongjia Lu View ListingTaxi Printout




Fancy vegetarian restaurant on Taiyuan Lu. Most of its dining area is hidden underground, with one entire floor decorated like a lavish 14th-century French church. Small plates, multiple courses, medium- to high-prices. The vibe here makes it especially good for business dinners.

Wujie (大蔬无界)


392 Tianping Lu, near Hengshan Lu View ListingTaxi Printout




Upscale vegetarian chain with three branches around town, including The Bund (currently closed), Xujiahui Park, and the SWFC. This one is good for special occasions and dates. Lots of creative takes on Asian cuisine here, like tonkatsu and lemongrass chicken but without the meat, and fairly well priced, to boot.

TELL EVERYONE

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