Located on the second floor and third floor with a small and discreet doorway entrance on Shanxi South Road, Encounter is not the easiest place to locate, and I suspect that’s part of the appeal of this forest themed restaurant. Walking up the see-through glass steps peeking down at a layout of green grass and animal caricatures, the restaurant had a nice element of surprise. We choose to sit outside on the second-floor balcony, under a fake cherry blossom tree and overlooking a nice view of the streets below, but the real gem in this restaurant lies in the third floor, which sits a make shift tree house that reaches the ceilings. Surrounded by fairy lights, and wood decors, it’s as close as to feeling like you’re dining in a forest as you’ll get in the middle of downtown Shanghai.
The menu has a wide variety of Southeast Asian cuisine, with the usual tom yum soup, papaya salad, and whatnot. Feeling a bit adventurous, we opted away from the tom yum soup and decided to get the coconut chicken soup. Having never tasted the dish elsewhere before, I found the coconut chicken soup to be a pleasant surprise- just as stimulating on the taste buds as the tom yum, but with a nice addition of coconutty richness. The Pineapple seafood fried rice and the water spinach, although nothing spectacular, proved to be great companions of the soup. Service was great and the food arrived rather quick. Overall price per person was 100rmb.
Hungry and tired, we stumbled upon this Japanese restaurant after failing to grab seats at another nearby popular restaurant. The inside of the place is decorated with streams of manga strips covering the walls, and a myriad of other Japanese decors.
Our group of 4 found a great deal on the Dianping App that included a wide variety of items- sashimi platter, salmon sushi, tuna sushi, California roll, salmon cheese roll, eel egg roll, mango salad, potato stewed beef, sardine, and iron plate beef. In addition, we ordered 2 plates of pan-fried dumplings, and 3 helpings of avocado cheese salmon rolls, along with the side dish of green bean sprouts. That might sound like a lotta food for 4 people but Japanese food isn’t the best at filling a person up so we had to dig in.
Starting with the sushi here, I’ll say that they aren’t bad but they are also not great either. What I don’t understand is why almost every sushi roll on the menu here has to have some sort of cheese inside or a drop of cream sauces on top. Perhaps to adapt to the Western appetite? The sashimi platter made for a great display as the smoke of the dry ice spewed about but I can’t really comment because I don’t really like to eat completely raw seafood. The beef here platters are not disagreeable but are served in really small portions. In the end, I’ll have to say that I liked pan fried dumplings the best out of all the dishes, because it is fried to just the right amount, with a nice vinegar sauce on the side to dip with.
On to service- for relatively small place that is not too crowded, getting the waitress’s attention proved to be more of a struggle than necessary. This was quite frustrating throughout the meal. Overall, price is around 120 rmb/ person, with the platter deal being 168rmb, a discount from its original price of 399 rmb.
Truth be told, the Spice has become my go-to place for when I crave some Indian comfort food. Strangely enough however, they’re listed as a Thai restaurant and the majority of their food options are Thai, with Indian food being on a separate menu, namely, one sheet of paper. Although I have no problems with the quality of their Thai food, their Indian food is what draws me back time and time again.
My old favorites are the butter chicken and the garlic naan, along with their freshly made rich mango lassis. The chicken in the butter chicken dish is great, but it’s the “butter” sauce that really gets me. A better duo than peanut butter and jelly, the creamy aromatic butter chicken sauce is the perfect match for a side of crispy naan. Even the Thai fried noodles went great with the sauce. My only complaint is that the serving size of the naan platters are too small, with only 3 pieces to munch on. The papaya salad was a nice side dish to offset the heavy flavor of the butter chicken and tom yum soup we ordered. As always, I walked away from this place with a bloated but satisfied stomach.
At The Spice, you can always expect service with a smile, and sometimes the lovely waiters don’t even hesitate to strike up a chat with you, rare in China if you ask me. Price about 100rmb/person.
Long and behold, liquid laundry is usually one of the first brewery restaurants you hear of when you first come to Shanghai, and I can’t believe I’ve put it off for so long before I made a visit. First off, the place is much larger than I expected, covering most of the second floor at Jiahuafang. Even so, it is impressively fully seated on a Saturday night, but don’t come here then if you’re expecting to catch up with an old friend because the music gets so loud that it is a struggle to talk over it. It was also really difficult to catch the waiter’s attention within such a large crowded space, and service at best was so-so.
Moving on to the better parts, I am a sucker for ingenious menu designs and I loved the one at Liquid Laundry, which is literally a menu attached to a wooden laundry board- brings back nostalgia for a time when those were still used. The food was also amazing! Everything was not only fresh, but also flavorful to the max. I wanted to order their renowned beef egg panini but was told it was only available for brunch time on weekends. We started out with their homemade fries, which came in a huge plater along with three sauces. Crisp and warm, the fries were splendid but we had to watch ourselves before we got to full from that. Then came the seared yellowtail and big bone (with marrow) with a side of toast. I never thought that bone marrow and toast would ever be good companions but here at Liquid Laundry, they’ve made it work. We couldn’t skip desert as the waffles on the menu looked absolutely amazing, as did the ice cream on top. We ordered the Belgium waffles with blue berry ice cream and it was taste bud heaven as the waffle and cream melts into a blended delight in your mouth.
Their beer is also freshly brewed. Arrive before 8pm for happy hour prices. Upon scanning a QR and registering for their membership, you also get a coupon for a free beer platter; the catch is you can only use it on your next visit, but all the more reason to come back. Price without drinks comes out to be 200 rmb/person.
I stumbled upon this little Hainan Chicken Rice restaurant when wondering around People’s Square and decided to step in and give it a try. The restaurant is the size of a shoebox, with lined seating that face the window panels of the kitchen area and is only able to fit 6-7 people at once. But fear not! Instead of a sense of claustrophobia, this place gives off a sense of Zen due to its mini coin fountain, wooden placards of historical photos that line the walls, and light bulbs that hang from the ceiling.
One of the placards claim that the restaurant holds a centennial brand and comes straight from Wenchang, Hainan, the origin place of the chicken rice. It also claims that all of the chicken served in this restaurant has lived for at least 180 days, meaning that it’s all naturally grown. The menu is simple with only a few choices as indicated by wooden placards hanging on the kitchen’s glass panel. You order across the window panel with the chef who will also be making your order. Language spoken here is probably only Chinese.
The 32 rmb chicken rice set menu is small in size and includes- chicken, chicken oiled rice, chicken soup, and side sauces of chili, garlic, and soy. The chicken rice was great, but what I really enjoyed was the chicken soup. Served in a porcelain colored tea pot paired with a matching tea cup with a design of a 3D fish at the bottom, the chicken soup was rich with flagrance and is displayed with a sense of ceremony. Little placards (I know, again with the placards) even indicated to you the exact order for which you should dip your chicken in each of the sauces, drink your soup, and eat your rice, to maximize the enjoyability of your meal.
There was a sense of ceremony to eating at this Hainan chicken rice joint, like you weren’t just enjoyed a slice of Hainan chicken, but enjoying the history and customs that has come along with it. Being that there is limited space however, come by only if you’re looking for a solo-meal or an intimate meal with one or two friends. Prices are super afforable but get the bigger portion of the chicken rice set if you're feeling hungry as portions are small.
I’ve walked by the RAC Bar many times, and even in a weekday afternoon, this place is packed. They serve delicious brunches and are known to serve amazing avocado toast, but you should definitely avoid going around noon on weekends as a bunch of other people will probably have the same idea as you, and the waitlist can be as long as 20+ tables with a wait time of over an hour.
Finally, on a late weekend afternoon, when the line was relatively short, I decided to pop in for some brunch snacks. They have an indoors seating area along with an enlarged outdoors seating area with patio desks and chairs, which gets amble sunlight, making it perfect for a sunny day meal out. As there are always loads of people, the servers are super busy rushing around, so it might be hard to grab their attention. We ended up ordering the avocado toast and egg, and a bacon, egg & cheese bun, and waited quite a bit for the order to arrive. Fortunately, the avocado toast has lived up to its name: rich with a bottom layering of guacamole and a top layer of fresh pieces of avocado, topped with a soft yolk egg; it tastes just as amazing as it looks! The bun sandwich was also superb as the buns carried a delicious buttery aroma and the bacon inside was fried to the perfect texture.
The RAC Bar is a spot-on brunch place if you’re willing to bear for the sometimes drudgingly long wait for the amazing food. It’s family-friendly, date-friendly, and even pet-friendly. The chic décor also draws a lot of people to capture the perfect Instagram moments. Coffee with a light meal rounds out to cost about 100 rmb per person.
A vegetarian buffet in the heart of Jing’an, Jen Dow is a great place for vegetarians to dig in, and for non-vegetarians who are just looking for a healthier meal. The buffet is located on the 3rd floor of the building, and they have a wide variety of options ranging from sushi bars, dim sums, veggie trays, DIY mini hotpots, and of course, desert (with the added bonuses of a chocolate fondue and an ice cream bar).
I came on a weekday night so it wasn’t that crowded, although it is suggested that you reserve a place ahead of time. The exterior of the place didn’t look too promising but the buffet area is large and full of hidden surprises. For starters, this place serves mushroom flavoured tea, which is something I’ve never tried before, and didn’t expect myself to like, but I was surprised by the pleasant aroma and aftertaste of this peculiar drink. The main courses tasted good but weren’t particularly notable as there’s only so many ways you can cook vegetables and dress up veggies into “make believe meat,” as they did with the sausage and what looked like chicken. The dim sum booth was great as they had a wide variety of treats, but the sushi bar was lacklustre to say the least, as there wasn’t much sushi displayed, and the ones displayed did not look the least bit appealing. I have nothing bad to say about desserts though as they both looked and tasted great, though the fondue was a bit underwhelming.
Overall, Jen Dow is great for a catching up with friends or a large gathering with family as it’s fairly quiet and has a nice vibe. The buffet dinner goes for 198/person which is reasonable. My vegetarian friend found the place delightful but as a non-vegetarian, I probably won’t be making another trip here as there are far more other options for me out in Shanghai.
Open patio seating, check. Vintage wood panels, check. Pets allowed, check. This café makes you do a double take and check that you’re still in Shanghai, and not in say, Paris.
In all honesty, I only decided to pop in here because the line at the RAC Bar across the street is ridiculously long during the brunch rush hour. I came in not expecting much, and left Marienbad Café being right in that assumption.
The 98rmb set brunch menu allows for a main dish along with a choice of a small side dish. The starter steam egg custard was very appealing to the aesthetics- the egg custard is served inside a half-cracked egg shell laid out on some hot stones in a pan- and tasted fine for what it was. On the other hand, the main dish I ordered, the spinach egg panini, is just unappealing both to the eyes and taste buds. It was simply put, some sloppy eggs and spinach served on a bun, with a side of slightly cold and fishy tasting foie gras. The waffle ice cream dessert was probably the best part of the meal, because ice cream and waffles are two very hard things to mess up.
Overall, the place has a really nice vibe, with an open patio area for a great street view. The food however is way less than spectacular, so grab a coffee and a window seat to do some reading, but don’t come here for a meal, because it is too pricey for what it's worth.
Located on the corner of Xinzha road, you are greeted by a cute Merlion statue as you walk into this Singaporean restaurant named after the famous Orchard Road shopping strip in Singapore. For starters, this restaurant had all the Singaporean delights that will make anyone who’s spent time in Singapore remanence about the hawker centers at the little red dot. From bak kuh teh to roti pratas, you name it, they’ll have it. Firm believer that you’ll taste the authenticity of a Singaporean restaurant from its char kway teow (stir-fried noodles), we ordered that along with the black and white friend carrot cake, bean paste spinach, along with a milo dinosaur. The display of the meals were straightforward with no aesthetic features, which were fair because that’s how hawker centers in Singapore served them anyways, and portions were large. The char kway teow was made with too much soy sauce for my liking and mixed with thick chili paste. The fried carrot cake is made with half the original flavor and half with soy sauce and I want to say shrimp paste. The black (soy-sauce) part of the carrot cake is delicious rich with flavor. The bean paste spinach was out of this world salty, and could only be eaten if we mixed it with the white part of the carrot cake. Milo dinosaur was a bit disappointing, as it just tasted like washed out milo with some chocolate power on top, and definitely not the rich milo dinosaurs found in Singapore that would just melt in your mouth. Overall, the restaurant looked very promising but failed to deliver. I will come back to try our their bak kuh teh and hainan chicken rice to make the final judgement. Overall price for two rounded to about 80 rmb/person.
Bangkok is a new Thai joint that opened up on Nanjng West Road and it’s dianping page is filled with praise. Determined to get a taste of what’s good, our group of four visited the place on a weekend for late lunch. Firstly, the service was great as the servers were all incredibly friendly, with great English on top. They were also helpful with recommendations, and accommodating with allergy restrictions. We kicked off the meal with the chilli and basil duck confit with pork mince, which had a great display (as we’ll come to find, so does all of the food served here), but the duck was a bit tough. Their star dish, the tom yum seafood soup was served unliked any others I’ve seen. The soup and ingredients are loaded into a siphon coffee maker before it’s flushed out and poured onto the shrimps, clams and mushrooms. A gimmick that’s fun and entertaining, the overall soup was not bad either. The thai bean paste spinach and vegetable fried rice were not too noteworthy as they were both a bit too bland. The green curry chicken and lamb made up for it though as they were both rich in flavor and a good mixer with rice. The seafood vermicelli was also a great addition to our meal filled lunch. Last but not least, the recommended mango rice desert was just the right portions as we couldn’t really stuff ourselves with anything more after the large meal, and it was just the right amount of sugary delights with fresh mangos on the side. Overall, the restaurant had a very inviting vibe and the food were all displayed in a very aesthetically pleasing manner. Word of advice to anyone coming to eat here, do not stuff yourself with the free shrimp crackers they offer (along with free refills) because you will regret not having an empty stomach to enjoy the rest of the yummy meal. Price for our meal was around 180/person for four.
Located in the back corner of Tonglefang, right beside the line 7 Changping Road Subway station, lies Masse Gastro Lounge, a quaint Southeast Asian restaurant with a laid back vibe and a great playlist of 2000’s American R&B music. I swung by with a colleague for lunch and found the place relatively empty with only one other table and one server. Service was swift and soon enough, our pani puri, salted egg yolk fried chicken wings, Malay shrimp paste spinach, and chicken pad thai were on the table. I came here for the pani puri snack(an Indian street food that was a bit of an oddity on the menu), a hollow round fried dough crust with potato bean paste and chili sauce. The potato bean paste was great, although the spices weren’t nearly as spunky as that of the pani puris you find in South Asia. Next came their star dish, the salted egg yolk fried chicken wings and that certainly did not disappoint as the salted egg covering melts in your mouth in a perfect blend of creamy delight. The chicken pad thai and the Malay shrimp paste spinach are pretty much what you would expect at any Thai joint but are good nonetheless. Last but not least, I ordered the coconut ice cream for dessert. The portions were larger than expected, and even though it was freezing cold outside, I enjoyed every bit of the coconut goodness. Overall, I’d give this place a 5 stars for it’s chill vibe and 4.5 stars for its food. I am definitely coming back for the salted egg yolk chicken wings, which were simply the best I’ve ever had. Our meal came out to be around 205 RMB for 2 people.
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.
Flavor: The menu had very typical Western food offerings such as hamburgers, sandwiches, pizzas and whatnot. I ended up having the margarita pizza and the avocado salmon salad. I’ve also heard that their draft beer is a must-try here but didn’t feel like drinking that night so I’ll put that on the rain-check for next time. The pizza was made on a thin crust and served on a wooden platter. It was delicious and more than enough for two people. The serving of salad was probably the largest I’ve ever seen and tasted super fresh, not to mention the avocado was just the right amount of ripeness.
Location: Located on the quieter side of Jing’an, this place might be a bit hard to miss at first as it’s dim on the inside and surrounded by quite a few more high-key Chinese restaurants on the same street.
Vibe: Decorated with red tiles on the outside with a glass door and wooden frames, the entrance is quite inviting and lures you to check out what’s inside. Not too big on the inside, this place will give you a super chilled and relaxed vibe the minute you walk in. Bottles of beer and alcohol line one side of the wall, while wine glasses and tiny flags of all the nations decorate the ceilings. It’s quite dim on the inside, and there’s a television showing sport matches as well as a small area for open-mic performances. This is a great cozy place to hang out during the cold Shanghai winter.
Crowd: Mix of locals and foreigners. Not too fit for large groups as there’s limited space.
The $$: Super affordable with no pizza priced over 60 RMB. I heard that on Thursday nights there’s also a half-off deal on pizzas so will definitely be coming back to check that out. My salmon and avocado salad, a.k.a the largest salad I’ve ever seen, was also priced very reasonably at 58 RMB.
Flavor: Genshang is known for its wide array of tea and for its Instagram worthy décor, but they also have a food and dessert menu. As a group of 4, we came in on an early Saturday afternoon and ordered the avocado shrimp salad, chicken and omelet with rice, cream mushroom bacon pasta, and the chestnut souffle pancake. The salad was fresh and the food was warm and hearty, but it really wasn’t anything amazing; the souffle pancake, which is one of their star items, was also a bit too sweet for my liking. I guess you can’t expect too much from a café food menu.
For drinks we ordered the logan mediar and red date tea (listed under the “Health Care Tea” selection), the rose tea, and mocha. Most of the tea are served on a kettle, unless otherwise stated, and you can get refills of hot water anytime. The catch to this is that they only give you one teacup with each kettle so technically it’s only for one person, but you can always ask for water cups and use those to share. Although I don’t know much about tea, their tea is great and prepared with extreme care. The menu also goes into extreme detail to tell you about the taste of the tea as well as each of its supposed effect for good health.
Location: Located right outside the Madang Road MTR within a small shopping complex, this place is quite hard to find. They also have another location in the French Concession, within an elegant colonial style building.
Vibe: The store at this location has a very IKEA vibe to it, simple and clean-cut with large panel windows that surrounds the store, hence great lighting. The venue located in the French Concession however, has a Victorian era vibe to it, I definitely recommend checking that one out, as it’s a lot more quiet and a great place to spend a calm afternoon.
Crowd: Young professionals; quite crowded on the weekends.
Service: Great! The servers were helpful and were always on call when needed.
The $$: The food menu ranges around 70RMB and a kettle of tea around 50-60RMB.
Flavor: Stuck between that awkward time between lunch and dinner, we went into Jade House (very typical English name for Cantonese joints as such), and sat down for some afternoon tea (Cantonese style, meaning we also filled ourselves up with yummy dim sum and dessert). The menu had a flavor array of delights for a full course meal, but we ended up settling for tea and an array of dim sum delights such as chicken feet, congee, and egg custard baozi. Everything tasted absolutely delicious and I can’t wait to come back again to try out their full-course meals. I also tried the chilled mango sago cream from their dessert menu and recommend it to the max.
I should also mention that this place made it onto Dianping’s “2018 Shanghai’s Must-Eat Restaurants.”
Location: Located right at the heart of Xintiandi, it’s a wonderful place to sit down and chill after shopping at or exploring the area. This place is located on the first floor with large drop-down windows, which means you get a great street view as well.
Vibe: The place is decorated in a very upscale Cantonese fashion porcelain, red lanterns, and golden lions greeting you at the dining area. Oh, and not to mention the two large golden dragons pinned on the ceiling.
Crowd: Mostly Chinese. The larger round tables in the back are great for family or group dinners, while the cushioned seats near the windows are great dates or intimate discussions.
Service: Servers are polite and happy to make recommendations.
The $$: Mid-range with most dim sum dishes and desserts coming out to be around 35 RMB.
Lastly, be sure to reserve your seats before coming in as they are quite popular and can get very crowded during lunch and dinner hours.
Flavor: My main course, the Australian tenderloin steak, was tender and juicy and the side dishes were great! The chicken wings were flavorful and the french fries were probably the best I’ve had in while- with the outsides fried to the crisp with just the right amount of salt and the insides melting in your mouth in a creamy delight. The salmon and avocado salad were also a great addition to the meal, as the steak didn’t have much veggies on the side aside from some smoked mushrooms.
Location: Located at the heart of Jing’an at the first and second floor of the Kerry Centre, this place is hard to miss.
Vibe: This place was very quiet on a weekday night so it’s a great place to have intimate conversations. The décor is very much like that of any other American-styled bistro. During the holiday season, the second floor of KABB offers an amazing view of the large Christmas tree outside of the Kerry Centre.
Crowd: A mix of locals and foreigners. Long tables are available for large groups.
Service: Not too notable but the servers did their job.
The $$: The steak was around 300 RMB while other dishes such as pasta and burgers were around 100 RMB so it’s a bit pricey.
Flavour: I popped in here for a quick lunch not expecting anything too great but as decently pleased by the food here. I ordered a lunch set of bak kuh teh with a side of veggies, youtiao, and rice. The bak kuh the is almost on par with the ones I’ve had in the hawker centres in Singapore; definitely left me feeling warm and satisfied on the inside. The veggies are also abundant and the set made for a wholesome lunchtime meal. The restaurant is officially labelled as a Malaysian restaurant and you can also find notable Southeast Asian treats on the menu such as beef rendang, chicken rice, and tom yum soup. Definitely pop in during lunchtime to try out their abundant lunchtime deals.
Location: Located on Changping Road in between many local restaurants.
Vibe: The storefront is not too noticeable and once you step in, you are directed to the second floor to sit. Nothing worth noting much except that there is a big TV in front with food channels of Southeast Asian cuisine broadcasted as you eat.
Crowd: Very local and not too busy.
Service: Pretty minimal though the waiter was very helpful in explaining the menu items and there is always a waiter on stand-by if you need anything.
The $$: Super affordable with lunch sets like the one I got coming around to be 38 RMB.
Flavour: Absolutely amazing! I didn’t know what to expect from this place after trying out other not-so-satisfying South Asian joints around Shanghai but Nepali Kitchen went above and beyond my expectations.
The menu is filled with amazing goodies that brought back memories of my days in Nepal and I definitely had a hard time deciding what to get. In the end, I settled on getting a large non-vegetarian platter set that included mixed vegetable curry, lentil, marinated chicken ect., along with some nice naan, vegetables, and of course a fresh lassi. Everything was made to the highest quality and the spices were on point. The naan was just the right degree of crisp and the flavours just melt in your mouth once you dip it in some marinated chicken sauce. I could rave about this delicious meal for days but I’ll stop here.
Location: Located within walking distance from Jing’an Temple train station, it’s easy and accessible to get to.
Vibe: Once you walk in, you can for sure tell that a lot of thought and dedication was put into the décor of this place. The store is laid out on multiple floors connected by a tiny circular staircase with a long beautifully designed lantern spanning the length of all floors. All along the walls of the staircase hang pictures of the Nepalese people and landscapes. The place is dimly lit with candles and flowers on every table. On one the floors, you can even eat with your legs crossed.
Crowd： Mostly international.
Service: The waiters here are mostly of Nepalese or South Asian descent and they speak great English and Chinese. Service was not too notable, but comfortable nonetheless.
The $$: 140RMB for a meal platter, I would say the place is definitely on an upper-middle range in terms of pricing. (especially when you remember how much the same platter sold in Nepal, but I guess this is Shanghai after all so no complaining)
Located on Shanxi North Road along the array of Western bars and restaurants lies the gem that is this fairly-new opened hot pot joint. Although this place does not have an English name, its Chinese name deserves to be explained due to the ties it has with origins and transport method of the meat served here. The mutton is imported from Mongolia, hence “牧野,” and the beef is imported from Australia, hence “洋行.” There’s no way to be sure of this claim, but I can certainly say that the both the mutton and beef is extremely fresh.
The décor is pretty hip, with lanterns out front and tiled walls inside, but nothing deserves to be commented on more than the pots that are used here. The shape of the pot itself is like that of a typical Beijing hot pot, but it’s laced with beautiful ceramic designs that gives it a Mongolian touch. In addition, instead of there being a big pot that everyone eats around, everyone gets a small single pot. (how I wish I could upload photos to this post)
Now on to the dishes. Although there’s only one kind of soup base, there’s a variety of dip sauces to chose from. Aside from the mutton and beef of course, I highly recommend the crab cake here. Never have I tasted such soft and delicious crab cake; choosing to incorporate the words of a fellow foreign friend: “I don’t know what this is but I freaking love it!” The rest of the veggie dishes we ordered were also extremely fresh.
The service here is pretty minimal. Once you walk in and sit down, you scan a QR code on the table to order your dishes, and once that’s done, you pretty much just wait for the waiters to bring over your dish. Simple, fast, and easy.
The crowd here is mostly Chinese. It being a hot pot place, most people come to eat in groups, but the small single pots here make it possible for you to dine alone as well.
If I had to say one negative thing about the place though, it would definitely be the bathroom. It’s located outside of the restaurant in a small alley beside it, and though I won’t go into details, I will say that it was extremely unhygienic. Pretty sure I lost some of my appetite after a trip to the bathroom and back.
Other than that, it was a great dining experience. The overall damage to the wallet here was also pretty minimal roughing out to be around 80 kuai/person.
Good for: quiet meals, take out
Craving for pho one evening, I made a quick search on my phone and found this place. The place had great reviews, but I wasn’t too sure about it because of its generic name. I was surprised to find that the outside of the store looked a lot like the Vietnamese food joints you would find in places like the U.S. Located on the side of the street with big glass doors, tiled walls, and a bottle of sriracha sauce on every table, this was it.
Walking inside, the place didn’t have many tables but it wasn’t too full on a Wednesday evening either. The crowd here are mostly foreigners, and the waitress here speak English and Chinese. The décor wasn’t great, but somehow the place had a bit of a cozy and homey feeling to it.
I ordered the beef special on the menu, which is their all in one pho with slice beef, brisket, tendon, and tripe (58 yuan), along with an avocado smoothie (36 yuan). Throw in 10 more yuan and you can get an extra-large bowl. All in all the pho wasn’t bad but it missed a touch of authenticity in taste. I blame it on the noodles. The broth was delicious though and so was the smoothie.
Service was fast as well since there wasn’t that many people and there was always one waitress standing by.
Would come back again for a quick bite after work!
Ever find yourself hungry in the middle of the afternoon looking for a quick bite of warm and delicious feel-good food? Look no further if you’re close to the scenic Yuyuan Road, because Fu Chun Xiao Long (富春小笼, not sure if they have an English name) has got you covered! I discovered the place unexpectantly one afternoon when scavenging for food along Yuyuan Road and was surprised to find that the place was fairly packed even at 4 p.m. on a week day. After a quick search on Dianping, I found out why: they are rated the most popular snack/ fast Chinese food outlet in Jing’an! Without hesitation, I walked in, got in line (you order by the counter) and ordered their signature xiao longbao and wonton soup dish. On a side note, their menu is only in Chinese, but you can’t go wrong if you just order the signature dishes like I have.
Being a fast food joint, there is minimal service given. After you order, you are given a tab to carry with you to where ever you can find a seat at the crowded joint. They also have a second floor of seating if you can’t find any seats on the first floor. After you sit down, a waitress will come over, have a look at your tab and give you a number. In about 5 minutes, your food would arrive and you can dig in! The xiao longbao is probably the best I’ve had in Shanghai, with just the right amount of crispness on the covering and a warm gush of soup oozing out with your every bite. The wonton soup is not bad either, and is served in a fairly large portion, making me quite full after the combo meal.
The décor and vibe of the place is very much “old Shanghai,” a mix of Chinese and Western layout with pictures of Shanghai back in the days and grinning Shanghainese women smiling while holding a batch of freshly made xiao longbao. The crowd is very much local with a mix of young Chinese that look like they’re on a work break, and some elderly people simply chatting and enjoying their meals. I would not recommend this place for large group gatherings as it will be extremely hard to find adequate seating, and the place gets fairly noisy as mealtime draws close but do go check out the place and experience a very local Shanghainese dining experience if you’re alone or with a friend! The restaurant is very affordable as I was able to stuff myself full in under 30 kuai! 4 stars though because although the food is amazing, the dining experience is not so much as you often have to share tables with complete strangers and struggle to hear anything over the noise.
For a person who craves brunch food at all-times of the day, restaurants that offer all day brunch is definitely a god-send. After two dining experiences at the Win House (one for brunch and one for dinner), I can say that the Win House has become one of my favourite Western restaurants in Shanghai with no doubt the best service. On my first visit here, the waiter that served me did not simply walk to my table when I waved, No, he dashed over to my table. In addition, he gracefully answered my questions about the menu with high accuracy and did not hesitate to provide me with a basket to store my bag.
The menu options are abundant and great for anyone craving all types of Western food. They have everything from tacos to paninis, mixed yogurt to fruit salads, and burgers to broth. On top of that, they have a separate menu for their all-day brunch options and a wide variety of alcoholic beverages as well. On my first visit there I ordered the tomato basil soup along with one of their salads (medium bowl is definitely enough for one person btw) and was super satisfied with how fresh everything was. On my second visit I ordered their star brunch dish, the avocado egg benedict with coffee on the side. I have nothing but praise for that as well. I definitely look forward to going back to try out more of their dishes for brunch, lunch, and dinner. The place is great for all types of occasions, both family-friendly and date-friendly.
If I absolutely have to mention one con about this restaurant however, it would be the locations of their outlets. The ambiance inside the restaurant is great, it’s dim lit with soothing lights and the chairs are super comfortable. However, it seems that most, if not all, of their outlets are located within large shopping malls. Nothing wrong with this of course, but I think the vibe would definitely be much better if they were located on one of Shanghai’s many vibrant streets, as it would have better views and more of an “wine house” atmosphere. Overall, 10/10 dining experience.
As an avid avocado eater, I had high expectations for this place. As their name suggests, Kiss Avocado specializes in avocado dishes, ranging from avocado seafood rice to avocado salmon tartar. Located on a street lined with foreign cuisine, I expected the place to be quite busy at lunchtime but was surprised to see that me and my friend were the only customers then. With pink walls and splashes of pink everywhere on its décor and utensils, this place is girly to the max. You also have the option to sit outside as to better enjoy the street view and people watch. Don’t expect to see any guys dining here unless they are unfortunate enough to be dragged in by their girlfriends.
Seeing how we were their only customers then, the waiter/ waitress was attentive and took our orders fairly quick. They had a variety of lunch combos for the buck but just ended up ordering their dishes such as the avocado seafood rice, avocado shrimp toast, and avocado salmon tartar, along with some fresh fruit juice. The food looks great via picture but tastes average on your taste buds. Dishes are quite small so don’t expect to stuff yourself here. The avocado Salmon tartar is basically just a scoop of avocado with some salmon toppings, and the avocado shrimp toast, is as its name suggests, avocado and shrimp on a toast layered with mayonnaise and salmon roe. For a restaurant that specifically specializes in avocados, the avocados just didn’t taste as fresh as I hoped. So overall, I don’t really recommend this restaurant unless you’re looking to go in and take some insta-worthy photos with their pink décor and avocado stuffed animals. The meal averaged out to about 90 RMB/person.
Located on the blossoming street of Yong Kang Road, Eason Restaurant is a Cantonese restaurant that is famous for its claypot sausage rice, a popular Southern cuisine not to be missed. When eating the claypot rice, be sure scoop up the rice crust on the sides and bottom of the claypot as it is usually the best part of the dish! Aside from its claypot rice, this place is also known for its marinated chicken, braised pork feet, and sausage combo platter just to name a few. Like every authentic Southern Chinese cuisine, warm soup is served before the meal (kind of like an appetizer); although in other parts of China, you will find that soup may be served during or after the meal. As to why Southerners like their soups before the meal, well there’s a Chinese saying that goes like this: “drink soup before meals, slim and healthy; drink soup after meals, the more you drink, the fatter you get." Go figure.
Eason restaurant is uniquely separated into various small buildings spread across Yong Kang Road so it’s not uncommon to see waiters/ waitresses carrying hot dishes across the busy streets from one side to another. Because of how the restaurant is separated into various segments however, it can be quite hard to get a waiter’s attention at times. Service may not be 5 stars (understandable I guess) but the food definitely is! I came right after having a late lunch of Indian butter chicken with naan, and still managed to stuff myself because of how yummy everything was. Dinner time can get quite busy (not to mention noisy due to large groups) so definitely book ahead of time. I would advice to come in a large group, as the serving size is quite large and it is better to share with a group so to try out more dishes. The overall meal is also quite affordable as it averages out to about 100 RMB/ person.
What better comfort food is there than a nice authentic bowl of Vietnamese Pho. Starving and tired, I stumbled upon Pho Ong Hung one random afternoon while shopping at the YueDa 889 Mall. Located on the B1 floor of the mall, the place had a very modest appearance but is definitely worth a try. I ordered their specialty on the menu, which is basically an all-in-one (multiple types of meat) pho for the very modest price of 55 yuan. In addition, I ordered some spring rolls and red bean ice dessert. The tab is paid right away.
During busy hours, it may be a bit hard to get the waiter’s attention, but the dishes arrive fairly quickly in under 5 minutes, so it’s a perfect pop-in place for some fast yet wholesome meal. I can’t say the pho is as amazing as the ones I’ve had in Vietnam but it comes pretty darn close. On top of that, beef stew refills come for free so you can feel free to slurp up the hearty goodness. Spring rolls doesn’t come up to be too special but at the ingredients are very fresh. Their desserts are great as well if you find enough room in your stomach to stuff in more food after the stew.
Needless to say, I have popped into this place multiple times in the one month that I’ve been in Shanghai. They are located at various shopping outlets around Shanghai, and in some branches, there’s complimentary shrimp chips with the meal. Service is definitely better in their other branches, but for such great pho at such an affordable price, I can’t complain too much. I also highly recommend their rice noodles which is not a bad healthy meal option!
If you’re ever looking for great seafood along with a traditional Southern Chinese dining experience then you’ve come to the right place at Chen Ji. Do not come into the restaurant expecting a Western style seafood restaurant type of service, because this place is hectic around the clock. On a Thursday night, the place was packed with people sitting around large round-tables and waiters dashing around the place. The menu is pasted on a large wall in front of the entrance and live seafood are placed in tanks right under the menu posters. Although there is no English on the menu, there are pictures for every dish.
I doubt the waiters here would speak much English, so do not expect an explanation of what each menu item is, but hey! the element of surprise always makes a dining experience more fun. Also do not expect to see much foreigners at the restaurant, so if you’re uncomfortable navigating this scene on your own, I would recommend bringing a Chinese friend along with you. There’s great variety on the menu and you can order before you are seated to speed up the process. I recommend the stinky tofu and the seafood egg dish! The food is 5 stars but the service is really meh, though I don’t really blame them. You really have to try hard to get the waiters’ attention as the place is so crowded and noisy, so overall, it’s a 3.5 star dining experience.
This hidden gem is located at a very fancy part of town surrounded by high-end French and Japanese restaurants. Located on the second floor, the décor is a mix of European and Chinese elements giving the place a very cultured and high-end look. Fully expecting the menu items to be on the pricier end, my companion and I were truly surprised to see that the menu options are priced very reasonably, if not quite cheaply for a place of its décor. On top of that (and here’s the secret to saving even more rmb), if you get on the Dianping app, you can purchase a 200rmb coupon for the price of 100rmb, meaning that you get half off for everything you order that’s under a total of 200rmb. This coupon can be used all day, any day, how great is that?
We ordered some very traditional dim sum pieces such as shrimp dumplings, steamed chicken feet, preserved egg and congee etc. and the food did not disappointed. I would especially recommend getting the shrimp dumplings as it is one of the signature dishes. The service is also superb with greeters at the door and enough staff waiting around to come to you when you need help. We had a very satisfied and delicious meal for 2, spending only 118rmb at a place that would fit right into the lobby of a 5-star hotel. Places like this at an expensive city like Shanghai are truly rare.
After a late Saturday night out, what better thing to wake up to than a nice warm Sunday brunch. I stepped into Hungry Lung’s Kitchen on a late Sunday morning looking for just that and I would have to say, their menu options did not disappoint.
This place serves all day brunch for those that just can’t get enough of eggs and bacon. After some pondering, I decided to order the smoked salmon & cream cheese eggs benedict. Creaming and warm, the eggs were perfect and the salmon was delicious. I also took in some of the amazing food options that my table mates ordered, such as the classic American breakfast and the chicken laksa. For a place that served both Western and Southeast Asian cuisine, both looked equally tasty.
Space-wise, the restaurant is perfect for big groups as it has a long table in the middle of the indoor space as well as patio space outside. We were a group of 10+ people, and we had stayed and talked for 4+ hours. The waiters not only did not rush us, but they also continuously served us water. In the end, they even graciously split our bills for us. Overall, I would say that this is a very positive dining experience and I will definitely come back for more brunch dates in the future.
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.