The endless plate was once a centerpiece of expat life in Shanghai. Before Donghu Lu was fancy restaurants, nightclubs and bars, there was Jenny's Blue Bar (still alive!) and a string of all you can eat teppanyaki places (long gone). They were far from the only ones; you just had to look for the extremely unsober group of 14 people stumbling into the street, and you knew you were near one.
But all you can eat is not dead in Shanghai! There are many places that will still feed you irresponsible amounts of food, in many different flavors. You just have to know where to look. Some are restaurants that offer all you can eat options every night of the week, and some are just deals valid for a single night per week. We didn't pick all of them — if you want to find more, search for 畅吃 (all you can eat / changchi) or 自助餐 (buffet / zizhu can) on Dianping.
Ok, on to the mukbang training grounds!
What’s it cost: 118, 158 and 208rmb, including non-alcoholic drinks
Very popular beef hotpot joint. Higher prices mean more varieties of meat and veggies. They take reservations for lunch (a week in advance) but not dinner, so be prepared to wait for an hour or more.
What’s it cost: 198, 248 and 288rmb, drinks not included
Japanese-style beef hotpot next to the Jing’an Temple subway station. Top tier includes M5 wagyu beef and free-flow beer. Otherwise, add 20rmb for unlimited beer.
What’s it cost: 258rmb per person during dinner, no drinks
Brazilian chain doing churrascaria. You come for the meat, you fill up on the buffet, you promise next time no carbs.
What’s it cost: 418rmb for dinner (or 358rmb on Dianping), yes booze
Buffet in the spaceship with a rotating view of the Shanghai skyline. Doesn’t get anymore 2050 than that. We went recently.
What’s it cost: 464rmb from the hotel (323rmb on Dianping), no booze
This buffet — 11 cuisines! — was on fire when it opened in 2005. Still going. Still popular. It’s five-star hotel quality with a huge range, from steak to Southeast Asian street food.
What’s it cost: 428rmb with booze
All-you-can-eat teppanyaki including sashimi, teppanyaki and all types of drinks.
What’s it cost: 159rmb, no booze
Shabu shabu (savory, more broth) and sukiyaki (sweet, dipped in egg) at this popular but not large Japanese restaurant. Booze is cheap: 20rmb Asahi and 30rmb highballs.
What’s it cost: 228rmb including drinks
Unlimited sushi in a quaint Japanese place near Found 158. Quality is on the lower end but still decent.
What’s it cost: 258rmb (or a Dianping deal for 88rmb while it lasts), no booze
Unlimited Korean barbeque in K-town. You will pay with your time; in-person queueing only, and people start lining up for dinner at 2pm.
What’s it cost: 288rmb, no booze
All-you-can-eat Korean BBQ plus old school arcade games like Centipede, Donkey Kong and Frogger. Great atmosphere, cheap booze, we've been before.
What’s it cost: 148 or 168rmb, including booze
Table grills and exhaust pipes — it’s Korean barbecue. We did the 100-minute option for 148rmb and it was plenty. For an extra twenty kuai, there’s no time limit. Good value, not great, but good.
What’s it cost: 189rmb on evenings and weekends, including booze
People wait an hour or more for unlimited seafood. Not a surprise. For summer, they’ve got 11 flavors of crayfish in addition to all the rest.
What’s it cost: 338rmb per person at the Huaihai Lu location, including booze
Sashimi and other raw seafood. Reservations are available a few days in advance. Otherwise… get in line!
What’s it cost: 32.9rmb, definitely no booze
32.9rmb for unlimited Chinese vegetarian food. Yes. 32.9. Food is similar to Buddhist temple canteens. At this price, you probably can’t even cook your own food for less.
What’s it cost: 198rmb, your soul will be tarnished if you ask for booze
This Taiwanese restaurant on the back of Jing’an Temple does buffet where everything is meatless. Even the sashimi. On Mondays, it’s 50rmb cheaper, so book in advance. Buffet is on the third floor.
What’s it cost: 139rmb, add 10rmb for black tea or an Americano
A.E. Kitchen in Jing’an does unlimited breakfast, brunch and breakfast-dinner — pancakes, waffles, omelets — from 9am to 5pm on the weekends.
What’s it cost: 198rmb, not including booze
Chef Anna Bautista’s crispy fried chicken and sides (mashed potatoes, mac & cheese, green beans, dinner rolls) don’t stop won’t stop on Wednesdays at Highline from 5.30-10pm. Get a table of four or more together and they’ll give you a bottle of sparkling wine. Otherwise add 100rmb for free flow draft beer and highballs, or one glass for 30rmb.
What’s it cost: 99rmb, with drinks and Tsingtao
Hard to fault Rangoli’s dinner buffet for less than 100rmb. North Indian food like buttery curries and naan, and plenty of vegetarian options. Available Friday to Sunday from 5-10pm.