I was led to an alleyway by my regular dining partner that separates Panyu Lu and Fahuazhen Lu and entered into what I thought to be a Japanese restaurant, with hostesses wearing masks and dressed in Kimono’s, which I thought to be most bizarre, but hey, I am game for anything these days, this was no regular Shanghai Japanese restaurant for this was Anthologia a world of theatre style dining and when I say theatre, not like anything else I have seen before. Certainly not like the dinner theatre shows one sees in Las Vegas with scantily clad diva’s, or perhaps Studio 54 in New York when Sally Bowles was last seen playing in Cabaret.
Once inside, you are seated in pairs on tired seating facing a large screen, that has a rolling montage of nature scenes of flora and fauna, along with both animals, fish and crustaceans, I was imagining to myself and now for something completely different and half expecting to see a large foot from Monty Python come down. What I was in for, was a seven-course dinner from the land and sea, hence the images rolling on the large screen, along with less than coordinated clips of music ranging from Blues and Jazz, which didn’t quite work with the ebb and flow of the montage.
Before getting on to the food menu, I wanted to order some wine, a list is presented and in typical fashion, the words are uttered méiyŏu for this bottle and that bottle as well….As luck would have it there was another list presented and yes we have this one, and that one as well, we opted for a bottle of Sancerre, and surprisingly not costing an arm and a leg either.
Onto the menu, and the following dishes all elaborately presented
The text alone cannot fully describe the experience of the evening, and hopefully, the attached images will somewhat demonstrate the uniqueness of the venue.
Over the years in Shanghai, I have had dinner at Ultra Violet, Tai An Table and now Anthologia, all at different price points all a little theatrical, but all different, if I were to go back to any of them with a group of people, I would have to say it would be Anthologia hands down. Dinner starts promptly at 19h00, and over by about 21h30 towards the end of the evening for anyone celebrating a birthday or anniversary their names are posted on large screen, and names read out, which I found to be a bit kitsch.
The service was impeccable, really could not fault it, the food was above average for a Japanese style venue, priced at 980RMB per person excluding the wine, which came to 550RMB, there were less expensive French white wines starting from 290RMB.
I have lost count of the number of times that I have dined at M on the Bund which was one of the few places that offered consistency back in the closing days of 1999 when M first opened, fast forward to 2019 and still going strong in my opinion.
I was invited to dine at M on the Bund just prior to the recent Spring festival, a party of eight, mainly Australian with the exception of me, the group some of whom were first timers to China, and a couple that wanted to show off the lights and sights along the Bund, always a hit with first timers I feel.
As always, one is greeted warmly by the hostess, and then shown to ones allotted table, the restaurant was not busy on this Sunday evening, we all took our seats on a round table, ever so Chinese, I took my seat and the chair collapsed underneath me, I promptly fell backwards, and thought that I had actually broken the chair leg, only to find that the chair leg had gone down one of the ventilation vents on the floor of the restaurant. Lots of fussing by the waiters who assisted in lifting the table and moved the table away from the ventilation vents, a bugbear of mine has always and forever be the height to table ration of restaurant chairs to the actual dining table, I had to request a cushion to sit on to raise my seating level.
To steady one’s nerves after such an encounter several of us promptly ordered Gin Martini's, and all was forgotten, we all looked over the menus, and started to order our individual dishes.
To start off with, I chose the Ottoman Dumplings filled with minced lamb and drizzled with spiced yoghurt, must say these parcels of finely minced lamb went down well.
As for the main course, I opted for the Beef and Lambs Kidney Pie surrounded by creamy mash, and mange tout or snow peas whichever takes your fancy, just right for a chilly night out on in Shanghai, the pie reminded me somewhat of home cooking.
To finish, I convinced the group to order M’s Very Famous Pavlova, well, after all, it is supposed to be an antipodean dessert, whether from the North or South or was it the rather large Westley Island in the antipodes, regardless of who came up with the dessert, the Pavlova was demolished in no time at all.
Throughout the meal, several bottles of Italian red were consumed, which made all in all a delightful evening.
Apart from the mishap with the chair to start with, can’t fault M on the Bund for that special occasion, as it’s always been consistently good.
I live not far from the corner of Wukang Lu and Anfu Lu and have always intrigued when I pass by and see hordes of people queuing up for a table at RAC Bar, once they have a table then they just sit posing for a selfie after selfie, fiddling with their food.
I thought I would take advantage of the Spring Festival break and pass by on the off chance after work and grab a bite to eat, I was in luck, not a gimbal to be seen on a Saturday evening.
Was able to get a seat to myself on one of the benches close to the bar, dislike “the see me in the window seating” greeted by the waiter, and promptly ordered a thirst-quenching Workers Pale Ale to start off with, whilst looking over the menu, along with a mini blackboard that is presented in French, and questioned do you understand French?
I started off with the Beef Oyster Tartare, this came with a portion of fries, which I decided to forgo, as I had ordered the Choucroute and Pork and offered instead a Shake Salad aka a side salad, which I thought was proactive by the waiter. The salad was served in a jar and tossed, hence the name Shake salad as written on the menu, it could have a little more seasoning and sauce I felt.
I had finished off the Workers Pale Ale, and decided to have a glass of Chenin Blanc from the Loire with the Beef Oyster Tartare, the young bartender emptied the remainder of a bottle into a wine glass, and then had to open another bottle to top up the glass of wine to prescribed fill, without checking to see whether the new bottle was drinkable, as the colour was looking slightly oxidised or for the common man, off colour….but, had to say it was drinkable, just.
Back to the Beef Oyster Tartare, I must say a great combination, perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea, I would order again.
The Choucroute and Pork was presented with a combination of both sauerkraut and red cabbage which lay underneath the succulent tender pieces of pork belly, this had a sprinkling of sesame seed atop of the tiny cuts of pork.
I was offered a Crème brûlée by the chef, which was served on a warm dish, with berries that had been steeped in alcohol, perhaps a brandy of sorts. And a scattering of edible flowers, the caramelised sugar was rather brittle and the custard cream had started to separate.
RAC Bar has a decent wine selection, could perhaps offer a wider choice by the glass, innovative and original style of food, the service is extremely friendly and price points reasonable. Glad I went along to try, damages for one 381RMB on a Saturday evening, would certainly recommend RAC Bar, and go back, although would choose a time when the posers and gimbals are not around.
There’s a saying in foodie circles that goes, “the worse the service, the better the food.” This saying has never rang more true than when I stepped into Linglong Restaurant（玲珑餐馆）, because you see, the logic goes that if the food is really “that” good, then people would come back no matter how bad the quality of service, thus the owners no longer need to try and “please” their customers.
This restaurant was highly recommended by a friend who states this is simply one of the best places for local Shanghai cuisine, despite its 3 star rating on Dianping (mainly due to service complaints but that doesn’t stop the crowds from coming in). Like many hole in the wall restaurants, this place isn’t able to fit many seats so people are expected to eat quick and leave. If you hover during busy rush hours, you might even get a scolding from the owner with the notorious bad temper.
Knowing all this, I was pretty prepared for extremely bad service, but was pleasantly surprised to find that we came right after the lunch rush hour (after 1:30p.m.) and there was no one inside except for us. Even so, the owner took no time to rush me in menu selection, and kept recommending what he called the “typical three dishes (老三样)“， which were the bean curd marinated spinach, the yellow croaker marinated in braised tofu, and the tomato potato soup. We opted for the first two, but decided to switch out the soup for the specialty braised pork, as that’s a famous Shanghai specialty.
The wait was short and my oh my, the food did not disappoint! The bean curd marinated spinach and the yellow croaker were both dishes that will leave you craving for months. Never have I tasted dishes where margination were done to such perfection: the spinach was soaked in flavors of the marinated red tofu, and the braised tofu in the other dish had completely mixed with the delicious fish tastes of the yellow croaker. The red braised tofu was a bit too sweet for my liking, but I guess that’s just Shanghai cuisine for ya.
As we ate, we noticed many of the people that came in were old-timers, and did not hesitate to let the owners know that they wanted the “typical three dishes.” Overall the bill came out to be around 90 rmb/person, which is quite expensive for a joint like this but I would not hesitate to come back. I give this place 5 stars despite the service because it really is “that” good.
On the side note, because they are so popular, apparently there’s a minimal expenditure of 150 rmb/ table, so I wouldn’t recommend coming to this restaurant solo.
I came here with a large group for a brunch gathering and expected to have a wholesome Australian-styled dining experience, but boy can this place not get any more disappointing. I was one of the last ones to order, picking omelette on toast along with avocado tomato salad for my brunch choices. The avocado tomato salad came first, and I was just surprised at how tiny the portion was, but that aside, the salad was completely tasteless- just some hard avocados and tomatoes on a piece of giant lettuce. Then, one by one, the orders of my peers came yet there was still no sight of mine. After half an hours, I inquired the waiter, only to find out that they forgot my order. After a brief apology, the waiter headed to the kitchen, and I expected that he probably went to rush my order, BUT another 15 minutes went by as other dishes came out the kitchen and there was still no sign of my dish. I inquired the waiter again in a much firmer voice, and it was only then that he rushed to the kitchen and told the chef to bop up my order.
At this point, I was fuming because literally everyone at my table had already finished eating and I was still waiting for my dish. By the time my dish finally came, it was almost lunchtime. Aside from a few apologies, the waiter offered no compensation for the sluggish service. It wasn’t until I actively pushed for compensation that they brought a cheesecake to the table on the house (it was insufficient compensation in my opinion and although I didn’t eat the cheesecake, I was told by my peers that tried it that it didn’t taste great). That aside, the omelette was also mild on the taste buds and I had to add loads of pepper and spices just to stuff it down. The only thing that sufficed was the chocolate brownie milkshake I added to my order at the end. Price wise is around 100 rmb/person. Needless to say, I will never be coming back and I do not recommend this place to anyone, as there's so many more pleasant brunch places around Shanghai.
Flavor: We ordered the miso soup, tuna salad, and multiple sushi platters, which were all extremely fresh and delicious. Out of all the sushi, I highly recommend their signature platter, the foie gras sushi, which is what I can only describe as an explosion of fatty tenderness and juicy flavors in your mouth. The salmon caviar sushi, which bursts into flavors of savory delight, is also highly worth your money.
Location: Located in the center of foodie heaven on Wuding Road, this big store front with red lanterns hanging out front is hard to miss.
Vibe: Decorated like a traditional Japanese sushi joint out front, with a long bar table inside giving you a full view of the sushi-making action, this place gives off an open and inviting vibe. I’ve been told that the place is always pretty crowded due to their amazing taste (we came after the typical lunch hour and still had to wait around 20 minutes for a table), so it can feel a bit crowded inside. There are more traditional Japanese style seating divided into private booths further in, if you’re looking for the authentic Japanese dining experience.
Crowd: Mix of local and international. During lunch, a lot of white-collars working around the area come in for a quick bite. I don’t think they take reservations (during rush hours at least) so definitely plan your visit ahead and be prepared to wait!
Service: Swift and professional.
The $$: 100 RMB/ person more or less depending on what type sushi you order. Do note that this place is CASH ONLY (very rare nowadays, but that doesn’t stop the crowds from coming), so don’t forget to bring cash!
The Motive: I saw an article published about this new joint- the owner is a huge ramen lover and thereby dedicated himself to collecting ramen from around the world- and decided I just had to come try it out myself.
Flavor: I ordered the mie goreng (spicy fried noodles) on the menu and thought multiple times to myself, I could have made this (and better tasting) at home. Veggie toppings on the noodles were basically just two strands of bak choy. The fried chicken was alright, nothing spectacular though, and the pork feet barely passes the taste test.
Location: This place is located within a plaza on Julu Road, and it’s not an easy find, with a small window and wooden door as a store front.
Vibe: Inside, the shelfs behind the bar is filled with ramen packages from around the world, and the walls are lined with old-school vintage items. Hard to find and dimly lit inside, this store is the definition of a “hipster” restaurant. Apparently, this place is a ramen restaurant in the day, and a bar at night. There was no way of knowing that of course, and you certainly couldn’t tell from the its name “Ramen Boy.” My friend and I arrived for dinner around 7p.m., only to be told that there are limited menu options.
That’s not the only disappointing thing I found out, when we were handed menus in the form of a small chalk-written black board and a basket of ramen options from which to chose from. There is only one of each however, that had to be shared with the whole restaurant, so you had to wait your turn as the customers order one-by-one. Unique? Yes. Efficient? No.
Crowd: Mostly young international people, who probably also came for what seems to be a “fun” dining experience.
Service: Messy to say the least. We were waited on by a waitress who seems obviously new to the job, because she seemed nervous and was not able to answer many of our questions. Then I waited around 30 minutes for my noodles to arrive, to be told that the chef had messed up my noodles at first, because instead of dry cooking the noodles, the chef had mistakenly cooked it in soup. Then, when paying for the meal, we were told that we couldn’t use card and that they wouldn’t be able to provide us an invoice for the meal.
The $$: Way overpriced for the quality of the meal. Instant ramen is priced around 40-80rmb depending on the noodle type and your toppings. I guess most people here pay for the experience, not the food, but I definitely won’t be coming back again.
Coco curry is my go to Japanese place when I’m craving for Japanese curry and tonkatsu, aka Japanese pork chop. They have tons of choice with very affordable price and fast service. From pork, beef vegetable, omelet and more, and if you can’t choose one, you can actually get it in one plate with their customizable menu. They also have options for the amount of rice and spice level, which I find really useful since I can never finish my rice.
I like their omelet very much, it’s juicy, tender and very well cooked. I am not a fan for cheese with curry since it’s already so heavy and sweet itself, but I’ll definitely recommend if you are a cheese person, and definitely add the vegetables! Another thing about the food, I suggest you only get the curry but not others like pasta. Food other than curry there taste below average and you can probably (definitely) find better place.
I like going to the one in Jiu guang plaza in Jingan, it is clean and warming, perfect for a quick lunch or dinner. The price is around 40 to 50RMB and will definitely keep you full for a while. The Japanese fast food chain gives you proper and quick comfort food. It’s not fancy but definitely tasty!
There are a couple of little Japanese places on Guyang Lu: you can go to the informal, izakaya-style place to binge on takoyaki and beer, or you can gamble on the mystery option, like we did. It’s called “Kong-Hai”, and it promises “new Japanese style cooking”. Well then.
Little warning for pre-HSK4 pals: they have neither an English menu, nor a picture menu. This is a good thing if you don’t read Chinese, mostly because you get to just gamble and point at things. The sections are labelled in English, so you can still get a variety of dishes; you just won’t know exactly what they are until they arrive. It’s also good because it will probably mean that the friendly laoban will come over to help you with the menu. He’s great, and he makes good recommendations!
The food was all good, particularly the sashimi. We had tuna (probably) and some beautifully creamy shrimp. Prices range from 48rmb to 188rmb (presumably for gold-leaf-encrusted caviar). We also took a punt on the vegetable section; their spinach salad (topped with a poached egg and shaved cheese) was pretty good, but not particularly Japanese. Similarly European in flavour was a salmon and shellfish dish in a white wine sauce. This was highly recommended by our new restauranteur friend.
We had some sake, too; in total we spent around 350rmb for two. A little pricey for what we were served, but the food was of a pretty good quality and the boss man was nice. If you’re in the area, it’s probably worth a look in.
Here’s the low-down on the latest action:
The Beef: There are plenty of Western/Japanese/Thai/Indian/non-Chinese food options in this area, which is probably why I have never gone here thinking, let’s go for Shanghainese food! Xin Zhen Jiang was introduced to us by my dad’s Shanghainese friend, who has a knack for seeking out the best old-school eats. They are never fancy or expensive places (in fact they look pretty unappealing and have only a decent star rating on Dianping), but have been around for decades as family-run businesses and cater well to local palates. When you think about when you travel, and "want to go where the locals eat" that's not listed on Tripadvisor, this might be one of those hidden Shanghai treasures.
You can come here alone for a bowl of noodles and a side dish or order a bunch of dishes as a group. The food here is indeed fantastic – loaded with flavor and if anything a bit oily. But the flavors are spot on, and even include a few spicy Sichuan dishes. My biggest complaint is that they had two cats in cages in the main dining area, and they seemed miserable, poor things meowing their faces off.
The Gang: Chinese, mostly Shanghainese, a lot of whom known the laoban and don’t even need to bother with the menu. All hope is not lost for the laowai though as the menu has also English translations (can’t vouch for the Chinglish but you’ll get the gist of it).
The Damage: 50-100RMB/person
The Down n’ Dirty: Not a fan of the squatters, but just gotta do your thing. Get in and get out.
SmartReviews is SmartShanghai’s crack squad of amateur reviewers, eating their way around the city and writing about it. They have been chosen from a large pool of applicants and given a set of strict guidelines to follow to make sure their reviews are honest, informed and fair to both potential customers and the restaurants themselves.