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  • Tang Palace is my go-to place for dim sum. It is pure chaos. The dining hall is huge and always packed, the waitresses are always in a hurry to go somewhere else, the food never comes out in the order you expect, and they charge you extra for the napkins. But this is exactly how dim sum should be, and the food is way better than you expect for a chain at this price point.

    As a testament to its popularity, even on weekdays in the middle of the day, the place is packed with local families, many rolling in three generations or more. The highlight for me is the steamed shrimp dumplings. These are the biggest I have seen anywhere and each one is bursting with what must be an entire family of shrimp. The crispy skinned roast pigeon is also really good. Almost every table I saw ordered it. The panda shaped durian dessert is great for kids.

    This chain can be found all over Shanghai, but I like the one on Dongzhuanbang lu in the same building as Da Marco. I’ve never been there for dinner, but judging by the number of fish, lobsters and king crabs in the tanks out front, they must do a brisk business at night as well.

    As with most Chinese restaurants, this place is better enjoyed in groups and perfect for your out of town guests. You all can be full for under 100 RMB per person.

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  • Ochobo used to be located in the El Willy building on Donghu Road. It has now reopened in a small renovated building on Tai Yuan Rd. This is a high-end Japanese set menu joint where most of the seats are at the bar and you won’t be disappointed. You will leave with a full belly of delicious food but a significantly lighter wallet.

    Ochobo is only one floor of this tiny building. The ground floor is a sister restaurant specializing in grilled meats. This is not a heavily trafficked area, but just around the corner is the severely underrated tequila bar Pocho. Pocho makes some of the best drinks in Shanghai without squeezing your wallet dry.

    While the space is small, the menu seemed to cover the main spectrum of Japanese cuisine from sashimi to shabu shabu to grilled meats and tempura. The stand outs were the sea urchin tempura and melt in your mouth beef in a small shabu shabu hotpot.

    Two in our party aren’t keen beef eaters, and the staff happily switched the beef dish to lobster. The lobsters were pretty plain, but that’s expected when you order off menu at a place with only one set menu.

    Everything else was really, really good. But the damage is heavy at 880 rmb per person without drinks. Side note, they only charged 100 rmb for corkage which helps in this type of place.


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  • Bang is the iapm mall iteration of the Mr. Willis restaurant empire and it does not disappoint.

    The roast chicken is still the best in Shanghai. It is the exact same as the dish at Mr. Willis and every bite was juicy and flavorful. The roasted pumpkin that comes with it is also awesome. It’s roasted to a really nice crisp on the outside with a soft and sweet inside.

    The pizza on a sourdough crust would also give any place in Shanghai a run for its money. The crust is just the right balance of chewy and crispy. The patio has a nice view over Xiangyang park, and was packed when we went on a recent weekend. The service is good and the place is very family friendly.

    You get the feeling that they’ve found a good formula and are sticking with it. It’s the kind of place where you know exactly what you are going to get, and every time it’s still a little better than it needs to be. I can imagine one day you might find one of these in every mall in China. They have found a good lane and are sticking with it.

    The damage was about 150 RMB per person.

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  • I am giving this place 5 stars, but if you don’t know what you’re getting into, I can see how you may give it a big zero. Basically, this Beijing restaurant is re-importing into Shanghai the lost art of roadside skewers right next to Xintiandi.

    Not long ago, you could go to almost any corner in Shanghai and get barbequed skewers along the side of the road. Usually you would squat on small plastic stools, get some beers from the local Lawson’s or Family Mart, and make a night of it. Unfortunately for those who loved it (and fortunately for people who care about general sanitation), almost all of them are gone.

    Kitty Kidney Wang brings back the street vibe but in a more controlled and ostensibly cleaner and licensed version. For the beers, it seems like they went to raided every convenience store across China. They have beers from Lhasa to Henan along with your standard Budweiser.

    The food is all of your traditional skewer fare, but the namesake specialty is small pieces of kidney wrapped in fat. You need to be a bit adventurous to try it, but I think it goes well with canned beer. With the amount of seasoning they put on the skewers, they all pretty much taste the same. And they all go great with canned beer.

    The crowd is mainly moneyed Chinese youth. Many were stepping out of luxury cars to sit on little plastic and folding stools to recreate the feeling of eating off a street-side vendor.

    You have to order via wechat by scanning a code by the table. The interface is pretty simple, and if you still can’t figure it out, a waiter will help you.

    It will run about 100 rmb per person.




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  • Colca serves really great Peruvian food in a fantastic location. It is located in the newish large restaurant/bar compound between Hengshan Rd. and Yongjia Rd in the heart of the old Xuhui district.

    The whole compound is done very nicely and there are probably a dozen different restaurants, bars and cafés that all look inviting. The decorations are modern and trendy.

    What surprised me most was the proportions are really large. I had a two course lunch and I think it could have been split between two people. The Papa Rellena was great as a starter. It was basically a tasty beef filling wrapped in a mashed potato ball and then fried to a golden perfection. It was the starter, but could have been satisfying in itself for lunch.

    For the second dish I ordered the Cod Fish on Josper. It looked really nice on a triangular plate and you could taste the smokiness from the Josper. The dishwashers here probably don’t need to work too hard as we left our plates completely clean.

    At 110 RMB for the two courses with a coffee or tea which is a pretty good deal for this level of quality.

    The only downside is that it’s not stroller friendly as it’s on the second floor with no elevator

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  • Polux is a great addition to Xintiandi in the location where Kabb used to be. For those who have been in Shanghai for a long time, Kabb was a local favorite not for standing out particularly in any one area, but rather for being so comfortable and consistently better than the average for service, food and price for many years. Polux takes the formula and ups all three, especially the last one.

    The food is way, way better than Kabb. It is basically French bistro food done exceptionally well. We had the charcuterie, beef tartar, salad, pork and steak fries. We finished every dish completely. The service was not just Shanghai good, but great by any standard anywhere. Both the Chinese and foreign wait staff seemed knowledgeable about the menu and well-coordinated despite a very busy night.

    The patio is great for sitting outside and people watching. If you’re in the mood, get a jar of negroni to share. It’s basically a giant serving of the cocktail with ice on the side. By the time you finish the second one, your table should be all smiles and ready to go for the night.

    The place was packed, so make sure you make a reservation.

    It will run about 300 rmb per person.

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  • Imagine if you asked an eight-year-old to design a mall. It would probably have a theater with a huge movie screen, VR arcades, a toy gun shooting range, slides and playgrounds, and maybe even a horseback riding track on the roof. That eight-year-old is probably hiding a secret life as a Chinese property tycoon because this mall actually exists in downtown Shanghai, and it’s called Greenland Being Funny Mall. I am not making this up.

    Located about halfway between old Xuhui and the West Bund, this mall boasts one of the best imax movie theaters in Shanghai. We went to catch the latest Avengers movie and afterwards decided to have dinner at Hokkaido Crab Premium Restaurants Okadaya. Apparently, this is a famous chain of crab restaurants in Japan and there are multiple locations across Shanghai.

    You cannot miss this place because there is a monster crab guarding the front door and you have to walk through its legs to get in. We went with the 998 rmb set menu which included wagyu beef rolls, sushi, appetizers, a cod dish, and culminated in a whole king crab to eat in a hot pot. There was also ice cream included for dessert. It was altogether way too much food, but the quality was good and the service was over the top good (the waiter grates wasabi tableside for your sushi).

    Given how expensive restaurants in Shanghai can be, I think this is a great deal, and I would go back again.

    Did I mention you can ride a horse on the roof of this mall?

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  • I’m pretty sure brunching is one of the top expat pastimes in Shanghai. The sheer amount of brunch deals can be overwhelming.

    I would judge brunch based on drinks, atmosphere and food. In most cases, you are lucky to get two out of three. Bull & Claw is the exception that does a great job across all metrics.

    Most free flow brunches are limited to some house wines and a standard beer. Bull & Claw’s includes those and a decent selection of cocktails and beers (even IPA’s).

    Located in an old villa, Bull & Claw has lots of outdoor space with large patios and on both the first and second floors along with a private party room on the third floor. Weekends are crowded with big groups, but with the high walls, it still feels like you are escaping the city.

    Lastly, the food is actually excellent on its own. The pancakes on the kids menu is basically every kids’ dream. They take two fairly typical pancakes and basically cover them in syrup, candy and ice cream. It is off the chains. 

    The brunch roast beef takes a traditional pub roast and elevates it by using wagyu chuck and goose fat roasted potatoes. It is a huge portion, but I left a spotless plate when I finished.

    Without drinks, you can have a good two course brunch for 168 rmb.





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  • Moosan is a great quick fix sushi restaurant at iapm mall.

    If you grew up in America, chances are you spent a good percentage of your youth hanging out in the food court of your local mall where the Mexican guy spinning pizza dough at sbarro was your introduction to Italian cuisine. It’s a fond memory, but the food was definitely not good.

    Here in Shanghai, many of the best restaurants are in malls. One could argue that all things considered, mall restaurants are generally better than the free-range variety. Moosan fits in this category and is more like a kiosk in the mall. It is mainly self-service with tables and chairs basically sitting in the hallway.

    For 68 RMB, you can get a salmon poke, your choice of a side dish, miso soup, and a drink. The poke is not quite as good as what you get at Little Catch, but with all the add-ons in the set menu, it beats on value. They also have noodles and a large selection of prepackaged sushi. 

    Next time you are waiting for them to fix your cracked iphone screen at the Apple store or if you want to bring a whole meal into a movie, this is the place for you. You can be in and out in 15 minutes.

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  • Juyan Huton BBQ is a well-known Taiwanese BBQ. I’ve eaten there previously for dinner and have never left disappointed, although my wallet was considerably lighter. This time I gave it a try for lunch.

    The lunch menu is limited to a few different sets that they cook in the kitchen. I went with the beef lunch set, which is listed for 218 rmb on the menu, but if you order through the dianping app, you can get it for 128 rmb.

    It includes a salad, soup, a boiled egg, a seaweed salad, a pudding dessert, soft drink, veggies and a good-sized mound of sliced beef. The beef was really, really good and I would rate all of the other sides as above average. I left feeling full and satisfied.

    While it’s often hard to get a reservation for dinner, the place was completely empty at lunch. With more staff than customers, the attention and service was excellent. And sometimes it’s nice to have some quiet time.

    I still think it’s a bit too pricey for an everyday type of lunch, but if you are in the area and looking to splurge a bit, I would recommend it.

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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.

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