shanghai restaurant

Top 40 Restaurants to Visit for Authentic Local Flavors in Shanghai

When you’re in Shanghai, indulging in the city’s culinary delights is a favorite pastime. With an overwhelming number of restaurants dishing up global cuisines, choosing the absolute cream of the crop can feel like an impossible mission, especially for newcomers. But that’s where we step in.

Now, keep in mind, this list doesn’t cover every single noteworthy eatery in Shanghai. Think of it more as your starting point for some must-visit spots, ranging from iconic Shanghai landmarks that have stood the test of time to newer restaurants that have quickly become staples. I set out to round up the top dining spots in Shanghai for first-timers, but if you’re a seasoned foodie in this city, you’ll find plenty to savor too.

One thing to note, though: this guide features some seriously popular restaurants. So, it’s a smart move to make reservations ahead of time or brace yourself for a bit of a wait. We hope you have a fantastic time exploring these 40 top-notch places to eat if you’re new to the city!

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Eager to experience authentic Shanghai cuisine?

Check out the top food tours and other activities below, immersing yourself in traditional Chinese flavors and the captivating ambiance of historic Shanghai.

🇨🇳 Top Shanghai Food Tour & Activities:

1. Food Tour: Authentic Local Food Tour in Central Shanghai
2. Night Food Tour: Eat Like A Local: Shanghai Night Food Tour
3. Cooking Class: Shanghai Cooking Classes

Shanghai Travel Guide
If you’re headed to Shanghai, don’t miss my comprehensive Shanghai travel guide. It covers accommodations, transportation, must-visit neighborhoods, and more for your trip planning.

😋What is Shanghai Cuisine?

Shanghai cuisine, often called Hu cuisine or Shanghainese cuisine, hails from the bustling city of Shanghai, known for its cosmopolitan atmosphere. This culinary style boasts a rich tapestry of flavors shaped by the region’s historical and cultural heritage.

Key features of Shanghai cuisine encompass:

  • Sweet and savory fusion: Shanghai cuisine is celebrated for its ability to seamlessly blend sweet and savory elements. This balance is achieved through the incorporation of sugar and soy sauce into various dishes.
  • Emphasis on seafood: Given its proximity to the coast, Shanghai’s cuisine prominently features fresh seafood like fish, shrimp, and crab, elevating its seafood-based creations.
  • Dim sum and dumplings: Shanghai has earned fame for its diverse assortment of dumplings and dim sum. Notably, xiao long bao, filled with meat and flavorful broth, is cherished for its delicate skins, often accompanied by a dipping sauce.
  • Slow-cooked delights: Braising and stewing are common techniques in Shanghai cuisine, yielding sumptuous, flavorful dishes. “Red-cooked” preparations, where ingredients like pork or chicken simmer in soy-based sauces until tender, are a prime example.
  • Soy sauce and vinegar: These condiments are frequently employed to enhance the depth of flavor in Shanghai dishes.
  • Vegetable and tofu creations: Seasonal vegetables and soy-based protein sources shine in a variety of stir-fried or braised dishes.
  • Delectable desserts: Shanghai boasts an array of sweet treats, including tang yuan (glutinous rice dumplings), mooncakes, and confections filled with red bean paste or pork.
  • Regional fusion: Shanghai’s history as a trading hub has integrated culinary influences from neighboring regions, such as Zhejiang and Jiangsu cuisines, enriching the diverse flavor palette of Shanghainese dishes.

🍳Best Local Restaurants in Shanghai

1. Lao Fan Dian

Lao Fan Dian

Established in 1875, Lao Fan Dian possesses a rich 148-year history. Originating as “Rong Shun” in the Shanghai Classical Hotel, it now resides in the heart of Shanghai’s Yu Garden—a tourist hotspot and the birthplace of the city’s cuisine.

At the heart of Shanghai Lao Fan Dian’s offerings are three signature dishes: the inaugural Eight Treasure Duck, Boiled Black Ginseng with Shrimp, and the delicate Kousansi(Chinese: 扣三丝).

Notably, the Eight Treasure Duck holds the distinction of being the restaurant’s original creation. Featuring a premium duck brimming with a variety of meticulously selected ingredients, including lotus seeds, lean pork, dried shrimp, mushrooms, chestnuts, bamboo, gingko nuts, and jujubes. Through meticulous steaming with glutinous rice, the flavors meld flawlessly, rendering the duck meat tender and bursting with a complex savory taste.

Kousansi, a traditional Shanghai delicacy, features thin slices of chicken breast, winter bamboo shoots, and ham. The dish is characterized by its emphasis on delicate slicing and presentation, with the ingredients cut into extremely thin slices, almost like paper. The broth used in Kousansi is typically a clear stock made from chicken and pig leg meat, ensuring a clean and flavorful base. To relish the dish, diners delicately separate the thin slices with a chopstick, allowing the ingredients to absorb the flavorful broth.

🔴Chinese: 老饭店, Lao Fan Dian
⏰Opening Hours: 11:00 – 14:00 17:00 – 20:30
📍Address: No. 242 Fuyou Road, Huangpu District

2. Lao Ren He

Lao Ren He

For the people of Shanghai, a true summer is marked by the aroma of “wined” dishes. Amidst the multitude of eateries offering such fare, the trailblazers in this realm are undoubtedly the Lao Ren He restaurants.

The distinctive “Lao Ren He” approach to wine-based dishes involves utilizing sediment from wine fermentation pits, aged huadiao wine, and a blend of aromatic elements like fragrant leaves and osmanthus flowers. This meticulous process yields a wine sauce of heightened intensity and flavor.

Wined Chicken, Wined Pork Tongue, and Wined Soybean constitute the cherished trio of traditional and most popular “wined” selections. A platter of tender, sun-kissed sliced cold chicken, immersed in wine sauce, is as delightful to behold as it is to savor.

Yet another distinguished delicacy is the captivating Deep-fried Hairtail in Wine Sauce, resplendent in its golden hue. After precise frying, the hairtail is bathed in wine sauce, rendering it supple and velvety, completely devoid of any lingering fishy scent.

🔴Chinese: 老人和, Lao Ren He
⏰Opening Hours: 11:00 – 14:00 17:00 – 20:00
📍Address: No.558 Huaihai Rd (M), Huangpu District

3. Wang Bao He

Wang Bao He

Established in 1744, Wang Bao He proudly holds the title of Shanghai’s first Hairy Crab and Liquor emporium. Their peak season, autumn, witnesses a flurry of activity owing to the specialty of hairy crab, known for its distinctive market value and seasonal availability.

Among their most sought-after dishes are the Steamed Bun Stuffed with Crab Meat, Fresh Water Crab, and Braised Bean Curd with Crab Meat.

Distinguishing itself, Wang Bao He exclusively sources Yangcheng Lake hairy crabs, maintaining an autonomous breeding facility at Yangcheng Lake. These crabs are notably sizable, accompanied by a commensurate price tag. A signature technique involves simmering the crabs in water infused with beer and an array of spices.

The essence of Wang Bao He lies in its secretive crab-eating method, a closely guarded recipe that pairs vinegar and ginger. This sauce harmoniously blends hawthorn, lemon juice, and finely chopped ginger, resulting in a delicate, sweet-sour, and fruity profile that beautifully complements the hairy crab. Following the indulgence, cleansing hands with chrysanthemum water becomes an essential ritual.

🔴Chinese: 王宝和酒家, Wang Bao He Jiu Jia
⏰Opening Hours: 11:00 – 13:30 17:00 – 21:00
📍Address: No.603 Fuzhou Rd, Huangpu District

4. Xiao Shao Xing

Xiao Shao Xing

Xiao Shao Xing, an iconic Shanghai restaurant, is renowned citywide, known for its traditional offerings such as sliced cold chicken, scallion oil noodles, and chicken congee.

Their specialty, “Baizhanji” or Sliced Cold Chicken, stands out. It’s prepared using the famed “three yellow chicken” from Pudong, Shanghai, known for its superior quality compared to ordinary poultry.

The meticulous preparation involves a series of steps, including slaughtering, cleaning, blanching, boiling, freezing, and precise slicing. The result is a visually appealing dish with crispy skin, tender meat, and a refreshing taste.

Additionally, Xiao Shao Xing’s chicken porridge is a culinary delight. It’s a rice porridge cooked in chicken broth with various ingredients, offering a fresh and aromatic flavor, and the chicken within is both tender and invigorating.

🔴Chinese: 小绍兴, Xiao Shao Xing
⏰Opening Hours: 09:00 – 20:30
📍Address: No.75 Yunnan South Rd, Huangpu District

5. Lao Zheng Xing

Lao Zheng Xing

Established in 1862, Lao Zheng Xing, a renowned Shanghainese eatery recognized locally and worldwide, stands as the city’s oldest and the originator of Shanghai cuisine. For over a century, the restaurant has utilized freshwater fish from Taihu Lake, creating dishes reflecting the Jiangnan culinary style.

Among its culinary treasures, the Fried Black Carp Liver with Sauce stands out as a winter delicacy. The process involves carefully extracting the liver from live black carp upon arrival, then combining it with bamboo shoots, scallions, ginger, yellow rice wine, soy sauce, and sugar to create a delectable dish.

A cherished favorite, the Eight Treasures with Hot Sauce, boasts vivid red hues and a robust taste. Its name symbolizes good fortune, featuring ingredients like duck gizzard, pork tripe, chicken, bamboo shoots, peanuts, dried bean curd, and shrimp – though not strictly limited to eight. The luscious sauce, composed of traditional sweet bean and thick broad-bean sauces, garnished with green beans, adds to its bold flavor profile.

🔴Chinese: 老正兴, Lao Zheng Xing
⏰Opening Hours: 11:00 – 14:00 17:00 – 22:00
📍Address: No. 556 Fuzhou Road, Huangpu District

6. Lv Yang Cun

Lv Yang Cun

The top spot for the finest vegetable buns in Shanghai? Look no further than Lv Yang Cun! Each day, a lengthy queue forms outside Lv Yang Cun restaurant, all craving their coveted Gold Mushroom Vegetable Bun.

This delectable delight is a vegetarian dim sum masterpiece, featuring mushrooms, fungus, bamboo shoots, and green vegetables blended into a flavorful filling and then lovingly encased in a bun. The result is a refreshing and aromatic treat that tantalizes the taste buds.

While Lv Yang Cun is renowned for its veggie buns, it also offers an array of options, from meat buns to bean buns, custard buns to barbecued pork buns, all at wallet-friendly prices.

Don’t miss LvYang Cun’s signature dishes, like the Crab and Pork Meatballs with Sweet and Spicy Sauce or the Chub and Pig Head with Brown Sauce. These dishes showcase fresh ingredients and exquisite culinary craftsmanship, making Lv Yang Cun a must-visit culinary destination.

🔴Chinese: 绿杨邨, Lv Yang Cun
⏰Opening Hours: 11:00 – 14:00 17:00 – 21:00
📍Address: No.282 Fengxian Rd, Jing’an District

7. Xing Hua Lou

Xing Hua Lou

Xing Hua Lou, established in 1851, stands as the oldest Cantonese restaurant in Shanghai and a cherished destination among the city’s time-honored eateries.

This renowned establishment boasts a nationwide reputation for its delectable pastries, with its mooncakes and sweet green rice balls being particularly famous. Among them, the Green Rice Balls with Salted Egg Yolk and Pork Floss are a must-try, so much so that people start lining up to purchase them as early as 5 o’clock!

One of their signature dishes, Scallion Oil Chicken, features Sanhuang chicken infused with cinnamon and star anise, meticulously cooked to a golden hue, and finished with a drizzle of scallion ginger hot oil for a truly flavorsome experience.

Furthermore, Xing Hua Lou’s BBQ Pork with Honey Sauce, a traditional Cantonese delight, has been innovatively crafted with pork belly instead of pork collar butt. This choice yields juicier and more tender meat, enhancing the dish’s flavor and appeal.

🔴Chinese: 杏花楼, Xing Hua Lou
⏰Opening Hours: 08:00 – 14:00 17:00 – 21:00
📍Address: No. 343 Fuzhou Rd, Huangpu District

8. Rui Fu Yuan

Rui Fu Yuan

Rui Fu Yuan is a home-style Shanghainese restaurant. It has more than two decades of local cred (first opened in 1994), and some early accolades deem it the best restaurant in Shanghai for Shanghainese fare.

If there’s one other dish you must order, it’s the Yellow Croaker Soup with Wontons. The dish is a massive pot of yellow croaker fillets in a milky-white broth perfumed with white pepper. Small pork and fish-filled dumplings dusted with more white pepper bob above the surface. The yellow croaker is fried in advance and then boiled, creating a taste bud that is fresh but not fishy.

Meat-Stuffed Field Snail, which is also a signature dish of Rui Fu Yuan, snail meat and minced meat mixed with seasoning, stuffed into the shell of the snails, then thickened and stewed. This dish results in thick brown sauce and the meat is firm and tender.

🔴Chinese: 老瑞福, Rui Fu Yuan
⏰Opening Hours: 11:00 – 14:00 17:00 – 21:30
📍Address: No.132 Maoming S Rd, Luwan District

9. Fu 1015

Fu 1015

Fu 1015 in Shanghai offers an elegant dining experience within a sprawling establishment featuring a nearly 1,000 square meter garden and a second-floor terrace spanning three to four hundred square meters. The ambiance exudes simplicity and understated sophistication.

Reservations grant access to nine individual private rooms, eliminating the need for ordering, as the chef tailors dishes to suit the party size and preferences. The menu seamlessly fuses Chinese and Western cuisines, catering to diverse palates.

One of the standout favorites is the Steamed Pot Rice with Abalone and Pork Belly in Soy Black Truffle Sauce. This dish involves the rice simmered in a petite casserole, while the black truffle is presented separately. Diners can relish the act of crushing the truffle and pork belly with a spoon before amalgamating them with the rice and its flavorsome sauce, culminating in a tantalizing burst of taste.

Equally impressive is the Deep-fried Sliced Grass Carp in Sweet Soy Sauce. Its crispy, uncharred skin envelops tender, non-fishy, juicy meat. The sesame infusion elevates the overall flavor profile.

Concluding the feast is the classic Home-made Soybean Milk Ice-cream with Crispy Dough Sticks — a well-balanced, silky delight with a subtle hint of soft tannins.

🔴Chinese: Fu 1015, 福1015
⏰Opening Hours: 11:00 – 14:00 17:30 – 21:30
📍Address: No.1015 Yuyuan Rd, Changning District

10. Ren He Guan

Ren He Guan

This Shanghai eatery is a bastion of authenticity, steeped in 1930s nostalgia, complete with vintage booths and art deco stained glass panels.

Their signature dish, Gold Braised Pork in Brown Sauce, is a delicate delight. Served in individual portions, each plate features half a spiced egg and a Shanghai cole in an elegant bone China bowl. It’s the perfect portion to satisfy your craving, offering a melt-in-your-mouth porky goodness.

For a different flavor profile, try the Shredded Honeycomb Tofu in a Stone Pot. This dish combines firm tofu, salted ham, shredded bamboo shoots, wood ear mushrooms, and more. The tofu, brined and aromatic, harmonizes with the slightly salty broth.

And don’t forget to indulge in the Old Shanghai Soy Sauce Rice. The rice glistens with enticing oil, adorned with succulent shrimp and crisp green beans. Each bite is immensely gratifying, and the warm stone bowl ensures the soy sauce rice stays piping hot till the last bite.

🔴Chinese: 人和馆, Ren He Guan
⏰Opening Hours: 11:00 – 14:00 17:00 – 21:30
📍Address: No. 407 Zhaojiabang Rd, Xuhui District

11. Lan Xin Restaurant

Lan Xin Restaurant

Operating for over three decades since the 1980s, Lan Xin restaurant, a modest establishment with just a handful of tables, attracts a daily queue at its door and does not take reservations.

Lanxin’s menu features beloved dishes like Stewed Duck in Soy Sauce, Fried Shrimp, and Fried Shredded Eel — a comfort food trifecta for longtime Shanghai residents.

Undoubtedly, the star of the show is the delectable Braised Pork in Brown Sauce, a must-order for every patron. These succulent, bite-sized pork belly pieces melt in your mouth, offering a delightful harmony of sweet and savory flavors.

🔴Chinese: 兰心餐厅, Lan Xin Can Ting
⏰Opening Hours: 11:00 – 14:00 17:00 – 21:00
📍Address: No. 130 Jinxian Rd, Luwan District

12. Mao Long Restaurant

Mao Long and Lan Xin, neighboring restaurants, draw frequent comparisons due to their shared location and focus on local cuisine. Displaying a bold “MLYNEC RESTAURANT” sign, Mao Long is a compact establishment, spanning less than 30 square meters, yet it enjoys immense popularity.

Mao Long is run by a cantankerous grandmother who records diners’ orders on slips of paper before dispatching them to the kitchen.

The eatery is renowned for its signature dish – Braised Pork in Brown Sauce. As this delectable dish arrives at your table, its rich aroma envelops the cozy space, boasting a glistening sheen and tender meat that tantalizes the taste buds.

Another standout option is the Fried Shredded Eel, a delectable treat featuring impeccably prepared eel, boasting a silky texture and a fragrant blend of garlic and green onions that enhance its savory allure.

🔴Chinese: 茂隆餐厅, Mao Long Can Ting
⏰Opening Hours: 10:00 – 13:00 17:00 – 20:00
📍Address: No.134 Jinxian Rd, Luwan District

13. Lan Ting Restaurant

Lan Ting initially began with just six tables in its restaurant, yet it consistently attracted large crowds, gaining tremendous popularity. Even after relocating to People’s Square and expanding multiple times, the restaurant continued to enjoy a consistently high influx of customers.

A must-try at nearly every table is the Braised Chicken in Soy Sauce. Though its appearance may not be visually striking, this dish is an authentic Shanghai delicacy cherished by connoisseurs of old Shanghai cuisine. It features slices of old hen stir-fried in a thick, savory sauce with the perfect balance of sweetness, making it an excellent accompaniment to rice.

Lanting’s repertoire also includes their renowned Fried Yellow Croaker. This dish showcases a whole yellow croaker enveloped in a crispy, deep-fried coating. The zesty vinegar sauce complements the fish’s freshness, providing a burst of sourness that enhances the overall flavor.

🔴Chinese: 兰亭餐厅, Lan Ting Can Ting
⏰Opening Hours: 11:00 – 14:00 16:30 – 21:30
📍Address: No. 686 Xizang S Rd, Huangpu District

14. Wo Jia Restaurant

Wo Jia restaurant, nestled in the heart of the bustling city center, finds its discreet home within an aged residential complex in Shanghai, where it has been serving authentic homemade cuisine since 1988.

A standout creation at Wo Jia is the Queen’s Chicken Wings. These succulent chicken wings are expertly coated in a tantalizingly tangy and spicy thick sauce. The sauce, a closely guarded restaurant secret, adds a luscious and flavorful touch.

Another must-try is the Fried Shredded Eel, the shredded eel is a delectable blend of flavors, with peppers seamlessly integrated into the sauce. A gentle stir with chopsticks and it’s ready to be savored, best enjoyed while piping hot.

🔴Chinese: 我家餐厅, Wo Jia Can Ting
⏰Opening Hours: 10:00 – 01:00
📍Address: No.7 229 Lane Huashan Rd, Jing’An District

15. Mei Long Zhen Restaurant

Mei Long Zhen, a venerable 80-year-old restaurant located on West Nanjing Road, holds a significant place in Shanghai’s bustling Sichuan cuisine scene.

One of its standout dishes is the Spicy Quick-Fried Eel Tail, exclusively prepared using the eel’s tail for stir-frying, resulting in a wonderfully tender texture. This dish harmoniously combines the bold spiciness of Sichuan flavors with the premium ingredients of Yangzhou.

A must-try at this restaurant is the Red Bean Pancake, featuring an exquisitely delicate bean paste crafted from meticulously shelled red beans.

🔴Chinese: 梅龙镇酒家, Mei Long Zhen Jiu Jia
⏰Opening Hours: 11:00 – 13:30 17:00 – 21:00
📍Address: 1081 Nanjing Rd (W), Jing’An District

16. HOMES

HOMES

Nestled on Julu Road, HOMES private eatery welcomes you with a cozy, homelike vibe. It’s housed in a charming five-story Western-style building, where each floor doesn’t exceed 100 square meters. The decor here isn’t flashy; instead, it’s all about simplicity and a warm, inviting atmosphere. You’ll find elegant red chandeliers above your dining table, creating a sense of dining in your own living room.

Don’t miss their Shanghai Style Smoked Fish – it’s almost a must-try. What makes it unique is that Home uses pomfret as the main ingredient, setting it apart from the more common smoked black carp. Pomfret, mainly wild-caught, delivers a richer taste. When fried, the pomfret’s meat stays incredibly tender, without any toughness, and it’s packed with juicy goodness on the surface.

Equally deserving of praise is the Hand-Shredded Salted Chicken, a meticulously prepared dish. Beneath the milky-yellow chicken skin, delicate chicken strips are discreetly torn off, preserving the pristine fiber structure untouched by the kitchen knife, resulting in an exceptionally delightful taste experience.

🔴Chinese: HOMES 上海本帮菜, Homes Shanghai Ben Bang Cai
⏰Opening Hours: 11:00 – 14:00 17:00 – 21:00
📍Address: 47 Xinle Rd, Xuhui District

17. Yong Xing Restaurant

This hidden gem of a restaurant can be found tucked away in a narrow lane. Its unassuming, slender door might escape your notice if you’re not paying close attention. Inside, you’ll discover a modest space filled with nearly 10 tables, all bustling with diners, and it exudes a charming Old Shanghai ambiance.

If you’re unsure about what to order, many patrons recommend starting with Duck Rolls and Fried Preserved Vegetable with Cashew Nut as appetizers. The Deep-Fried Spare Ribs with Spiced Salt is also a beloved choice, so don’t miss out.

The Fried Preserved Vegetable with Cashew Nut takes your taste buds on an exciting journey, balancing just the right amount of saltiness and sweetness. While it may have a touch of oiliness, it doesn’t detract from the delightful crispness and the tantalizing salty-sweet experience.

As for the Deep-Fried Spare Ribs with Spiced Salt, the incredibly thin coating provides a satisfying crunch while preserving the rib meat’s delectable tenderness. You won’t find the heavy floury feeling you might encounter at other establishments, making this dish truly exceptional.

🔴Chinese: 永兴餐厅, Yong Xing Can Ting
⏰Opening Hours: 11:00 – 14:00 17:00 – 22:00
📍Address: No.1 626 Lane Fuxing M Rd, Huangpu District

18. Mao Dou A’Yi Restaurant

This restaurant sits in the heart of the French Concession, blending Chinese and Western influences in its style. Here, you can savor the true flavors of Shanghai cuisine, and the waitstaff consists of friendly locals with a deep connection to Shanghai.

The standout dish here is the Smoked Fish, a beloved favorite. Silver cod serves as the star ingredient, known for its delicate and tender meat. The fish pieces are marinated using a secret recipe, deep-fried to a golden, fragrant crispness, and then soaked in soy sauce while still piping hot. The result is a lusciously rich sauce enveloping the fish, yielding a smooth, layered texture that leaves a delightful lingering taste on the palate.

Equally enticing is the Braised Pork in Brown Sauce, a square chunk of succulent pork belly slow-cooked for three hours. The sauce, crafted from rock sugar, is simmered until it melds perfectly with the pork. As a finishing touch, red peppers are added, infusing both flavor and a vibrant hue to this delectable dish.

🔴Chinese: 毛豆阿姨酒家, Mao Dou Ayi Jiu Jia
⏰Opening Hours: 11:00 – 14:00 17:00 – 21:00
📍Address: No. 115 Changshu Rd, Jing’An District

19. JIAN’GUO 328 XIAOGUAN

While it may be a local eatery, what’s intriguing is that the owner hails from Taiwan, while the chef is a Shanghai native. The owner’s twist on the Shanghai cuisine is a fascinating blend of preserving its rich flavors while making it a touch healthier and infusing a hint of Taiwan’s culinary influence. It’s a winning formula, as evidenced by the restaurant’s bustling popularity and frequent queues.

One dish that stands out is the beloved Braised Pork in Brown Sauce. In this traditional recipe, the skilled chef enhances the pork with beancurd sheets and quail eggs, elevating its appeal.

Another star on the menu is the Fried Pork Liver with Soy Sauce. Served with tender pork liver, the dish is perfected with a savory sauce and a sprinkling of fresh green onions, creating a harmonious burst of flavors.

For a unique treat, try the Fried Small Yellow Croaker with Scallions. The small yellow croaker is expertly fried to a crispy texture, then smothered in scallions. The fish is so crisp that you can savor it bones and all.

🔴Chinese: 建国328小馆, JIAN’GUO 328 XIAOGUAN
⏰Opening Hours: 11:00 – 14:00 17:00 – 21:00
📍Address: 328 Jianguo Rd (W), Xuhui District

20. Hai Jin Zi Restaurant

Hai Jin Zi has proudly served the people of Shanghai for three decades, boasting a welcoming, well-lit atmosphere. It’s an ideal place for newcomers or foreign friends eager to explore the flavors of authentic Shanghai cuisine.

Their Stewed Duck in Soy Sauce is a standout, showcasing the distinctive sauce’s fresh and sweet flavors. Savvy diners often layer the tender meat atop their rice, allowing the white rice to soak up the rich sauce. Yummy!

Crab Eggs, a true Shanghai classic, offer a simple yet enchanting dish. The secret lies in frying the egg yolk and egg white separately. The result? A dish that looks and tastes remarkably like crab, earning it the moniker “Crab Eggs.” Slightly tangy and incredibly satisfying, it’s a comforting, appetizing home-cooked delight.

Meanwhile, the Grilled Pork Chop with Scallions is a showstopper on any table. Featuring generous portions of pork chop paired with aromatic scallions, this dish is both substantial and aromatic. It’s a succulent and lean treat, free from excess fat.

🔴Chinese: 海金滋, Hai Jin Zi
⏰Opening Hours: 10:00 – 21:00
📍Address: No. 240 Jinxian Rd, Luwan District

21. San Ma Lu Restaurant

San Ma Lu Restaurant, a fixture on Sanma Road for over two decades, has become synonymous with the street, offering the most genuine Shanghai cuisine.

Their Sweet and Sour Pork Ribs claim the title of “Shanghai’s finest.” These succulent ribs are generously coated in a jelly-like sauce, boasting a perfect balance of meatiness and tenderness, and a delightful sweet-and-sour flavor.

Another noteworthy dish is the Sautéed Hardshell Crab with Rice Cake. The crab is expertly prepared by halving it and giving it a quick stir-fry until the shell turns a vibrant red. This dish beautifully blends the sweet delicacy of crab with the chewy goodness of rice cakes.

And don’t miss the Sauteed Alfalfa with Rice Wine, a Shanghai specialty. The fresh alfalfa paired with the fragrant white wine creates a mouthwatering combination.

🔴Chinese: 三玛璐酒楼, San Ma Lu Jiu Lou
⏰Opening Hours: 11:00 – 14:00 17:00 – 21:30
📍Address: No. 413 Hankou Rd, Huangpu District

22. Jesse Restaurant

When observing the restaurant’s exterior, its small size and limited table count are immediately apparent. However, it exudes an ambiance reminiscent of a fine dining establishment from a bygone era. This vintage charm is eloquently conveyed through the attire of the waitstaff, the dark blue tablecloths, and the aging, narrow staircase.

PS: To ensure a gratifying dining experience, advance reservations, particularly for signature dishes requiring pre-ordering, are strongly advised.

Among these signature dishes, the Jesse Salted Chicken stands out as an exceptionally rare delicacy. The chicken’s skin boasts a delicate thinness, devoid of excess grease, while the meat maintains a satisfying firmness, releasing a fragrant, irresistible aroma.

My criteria for a perfect braised pork in brown sauce are precise—tender enough to be effortlessly picked up with chopsticks yet melting upon contact with the palate, and a sweet infusion. In this regard, the Jesse Braised Pork in Brown Sauce perfectly encapsulates the flavor profile I cherish.

Another favorite of mine is the Crab Roe Bibimbap, albeit at a premium price. The rice for bibimbap is sizzling hot from a stone pan when served. Its fresh, toasted aroma swiftly mingles with the crab roe, completely erasing any hint of fishy taste.

🔴Chinese: 老吉士, Lao Ji Shi
⏰Opening Hours: 11:00 – 14:30 17:00 – 21:30
📍Address: No. 41 Tianping Rd, Xuhui District

🍰Best Old Snack Shops in Shanghai

23. Da Hu Chun

Da Hu Chun, one of Shanghai’s most ancient spots for fried pork buns, began serving its specialty, shēngjiān mántou (生煎馒头), back in the 1930s, just a few years after this delicious dish was invented.

What sets Da Hu Chun apart is its traditional approach to pan-frying, using a unique “clear water” method that they’ve stuck to for years, making them stand out from the rest. In this technique, the dough’s twisted seal faces upwards while the other half is fried in oil. This results in buns with a thinner, crispy outer layer and less soup, placing the spotlight on the juicy pork filling.

But that’s not all. Unlike most places, Da Hu Chun sprinkles sesame seeds and scallions before frying, allowing them to absorb the rich flavors, adding a special touch to these delightful buns.

🔴Chinese: 大壶春, Da Hu Chun
⏰Opening Hours: 07:00 – 19:30
📍Address: No.136 Sichuang Rd (M), Huangpu District

24. Nan Xiang Bun Shop

Shanghai’s most renowned Xiao Long Bao can be savored at Nanxiang Bun Shop, nestled in the charming Yu Yuan area near the Old Town God’s Temple. This iconic Xiao Long Bao establishment boasts a century-old history, and there’s always a queue at the entrance, with wait times ranging from 10 to 30 minutes.

The steamed dumplings are compact yet packed with flavorful meat, and they release a delicious, piping-hot broth that might give your tongue a surprise.

To savor them properly, dip them in Shanghai rice vinegar mixed with shredded ginger, take your time to chew thoroughly, and experience the wonderful combination of protein and carbohydrates bursting with flavor in your mouth, leaving a delightful and lingering aftertaste.

🔴Chinese: 南翔馒头店, Nan Xiang Man Tou Dian
⏰Opening Hours: 09:00 – 20:30
📍Address: No. 87 Yuyuan Rd, Huangpu District

25. Zhen Lao Da Fang

Zhen Lao Da Fang, a renowned Shanghai pastry shop with a history dating back to 1899, is famous for its Suzhou-style pork-stuffed pastries. Alongside an extensive selection of sweets, dried fruits, and cured meats, they offer a delightful snack—the pork mooncake.

The mooncake features an exceptionally crisp and thin outer layer, while the pork filling inside is robust and well-textured.

Fresh out of the oven, the savory gravy infuses the pastry layers. When you take a bite, you’ll relish the mooncake’s crispy, flaky pastry and the burst of delightful flavors from the juicy ground pork filling.

🔴Chinese: 真老大房, Zhen Lao Da Fang
⏰Opening Hours: 09:00 – 22:00
📍Address: No. 336-338 Fujian Rd (M), Huangpu District

26. Xian De Lai

In China, even if you’re not from Shanghai, you’ve probably heard of Xian De Lai’s Pork Chop with Rice Cakes.

Their unique method involves creating a mixture of tapioca flour, rice flour, five spice powder, and eggs to coat the ribs’ surface, which are then quickly fried to achieve a delightful golden crispiness while keeping the meat tender.

The rice cakes are made from Songjiang rice, following traditional techniques, and sliced thinly. After cooking, they exhibit a pleasing glutinous texture without being overly sticky, and maintain a satisfying chewiness. To cater to individual tastes, you have the option to drizzle them with sweet sauce or chili sauce.

🔴Chinese: 鲜得来, Xian De Lai
⏰Opening Hours: 10:30 – 21:30
📍Address: No. 36 Yunnan Rd (S), Huangpu District

27. Shen Da Cheng

Established in 1875, Shen Da Cheng boasts a nearly 140-year legacy as Shanghai’s pastry monarch. Every day, a multitude of eager patrons lines up, especially at the takeout cake window, where queues often extend quite long.

An absolute must-try from their offerings is the sweet green rice balls. These treats feature a delicate, soft, and slightly chewy exterior, complementing the rich and satisfying fillings. Popular choices include sweet bean paste, salted egg yolk and pork floss stuffings.

The Osmanthus Tiaotou Cake is renowned for its smooth, stretchy white rice skin, delicate bean paste with fresh flavor, and perfectly balanced sweetness. It’s enhanced by a delightful hint of fresh osmanthus fragrance.

🔴Chinese: 沈大成, Shen Da Cheng
⏰Opening Hours: 07:00 – 21:00
📍Address: No. 636 Nanjing Rd (W), Huangpu District

28. Xi Bing Wu – Park Hotel Shanghai

Established in 1934, Park Hotel Shanghai, a beloved classic in the city’s history, has remained an iconic symbol of Shanghai. Even today, the hotel’s in-house bakery continues to serve Shanghai’s signature flavors, drawing eager crowds each morning at 8:00.

One of their specialties, Butterfly Cookies, arrived in Shanghai as the first French dessert, earning its name from its resemblance to butterflies. These treats offer a delightful crunchiness, coupled with an enticing sweetness and a rich milky essence that lingers on the palate, leaving a natural, fragrant finish.

Another exquisite offering is the White Wine Cake. Crafting this delicacy is a labor-intensive process, with the pastry alone taking a staggering two hours to perfect. The cake boasts layers of pastry and cream at the top and bottom, while the middle layer features a unique blend of white cake infused with white wine. Due to its limited availability, early birds are rewarded with a chance to savor this delectable creation.

🔴Chinese: 国际饭店西饼屋, Xi Bing Wu
⏰Opening Hours: 08:00 – 20:00
📍Address: No. 170 Nanjing Rd (E), Huangpu District

29. KAISILING

Many older Shanghainese cherish memories of the KAISILING cake—a fragrant yet subtly sweet treat. The pastry display at Kaisiling, also known as Kiessling, is a treasure trove of delights, featuring eclairs, cream horns, and cream cakes.

However, the standout favorite is their renowned Chestnut Cake, a soft confection generously piled with whipped cream, often referred to as “tossed cream.”

🔴Chinese: 凯司令, Kaisiling
⏰Opening Hours: 11:00 – 20:00
📍Address: 1001 Nanjing Rd (W), Jing’An District

30. Lao Da Chang

Lao Da Chang’s standout offering is the classic Shanghai Ice Cream, a culinary gem with a rich history. In the 1950s, a French pastry chef introduced the art of Italian ice cream making to Shanghai, imparting his knowledge to a group of local chefs. This legacy continues today, passed down from generation to generation.

Shanghai Ice Cream distinguishes itself with its non-sticky, silky-smooth texture and delicate milk flavor. Despite its seemingly straightforward appearance, its preparation demands intricate techniques.

The pivotal initial step involves “caramelization” – almonds are meticulously caramelized by blending them with sugar and water, a meticulous process that can span up to three hours.

🔴Chinese: 老大昌, Lao Da Chang
⏰Opening Hours: 09:00 – 21:00
📍Address: No. 558 Huaihai Rd (M), Huangpu District

31. Wang Jia Sha

Established in 1945, Wang Jia Sha continually adapts its snack menu to align with seasonal changes and customer preferences. During the Spring Festival, they feature delicacies like eight treasure rice, sugar rice cake, and pine cake. Lantern Festival brings delectable dumplings, while Qingming Festival offers Sweet Green Rice Balls. For the Mid-Autumn Festival, Wang Jia Sha unveils and sells freshly made meat mooncakes.

Wang Jia Sha’s standout offering is the Steamed Crab Meat Dumplings. A luscious soup crafted from fresh crab meat is solidified with gelatin, only to revert to liquid when the dumplings are steamed. With thin, delicate skin, fresh fillings, and a sumptuous broth, making them Wang Jia Sha’s signature delight.

🔴Chinese: 王家沙, Wang Jia Sha
⏰Opening Hours: 07:00 – 18:30
📍Address: No. 805 Nanjing Rd (E), Jing’an District

32. Guang Ming Cun

Guang Ming Cun, a popular establishment on Huaihai Road for 66 years. During the Mid-Autumn Festival, hundreds gather for their delectable Pork Mooncakes.

What sets them apart is their unique method of cooking these mooncakes on a stove. The result is a golden, crispy crust enfolding a large, savory meatball, piping hot and exceptionally flavorful, distinguishing them from other variations.

🔴Chinese: 光明邨, Guang Ming Cun
⏰Opening Hours: 11:00 – 14:00 16:00 – 21:00
📍Address: No. 588 Huaihai Rd (M), Luwan District

33. Meixin Dianxin Shop

For a remarkable nine decades, the Meixin Dianxin Shop on North Shanxi Road has been dedicated to crafting Tangyuan, or glutinous rice dumplings. This establishment is a unique gem in Shanghai, with only one store bearing its legacy.

Each year, as the Spring Festival approaches, a lengthy queue forms in front of the shop, all in anticipation of securing a box of these uncooked dumplings.

Meixin specializes in two flavors: sweet sesame and traditional fresh meat Tangyuan. The petite sweet sesame Tangyuan boasts thin, non-sticky skin enveloping moist glutinous rice, housing the delightful sesame filling with subtle pork lard nuances.

In contrast, the traditional fresh meat dumplings feature thin skin and juicy fillings, creating a harmonious taste that’s neither overly sweet nor greasy.

🔴Chinese: 美新点心店, Meixin Dianxin Dian
⏰Opening Hours: 08:00 – 19:00
📍Address: No. 105 Shanxi Rd (N), Jing’An District

🍜Best Noodle Restaurants in Shanghai

34. Lao Nong Tang

When it comes to enjoying a bowl of noodles in Shanghai, a must-visit spot is Huxi Laonongtang! Nestled in an ancient alley, this noodle eatery is currently one of the hottest culinary destinations in Shanghai.

Patrons begin by queuing up to place their orders, receiving a handwritten number in return. They then settle on benches in the alley, awaiting the call from the waiter to deliver their noodles. The dining area lacks a roof but is sheltered with yellow cloth, while the price lists are handwritten on a blackboard.

The star attraction here is the Pork Liver Noodles with Clams, a creative twist on the classic fried pork liver with brown sauce recipe. Thinly sliced pork liver is sautéed to a delightful crispiness, then paired with moist shiitake mushrooms and fresh clams. The noodles are slender and smooth, generously drizzled with aromatic green onion oil, and skillfully combined with a savory sauce to coat each strand.

🔴Chinese: 沪西老弄堂, Huxi Laonongtang
⏰Opening Hours: 11:00 – 14:00 17:00 – 21:30
📍Address: No.139 – 1 Ruijin Rd (No.1), Huangpu District

35. Yu Xing Ji Noodle Restaurant

The Yu Xing Ji Noodle Restaurant originally hails from Suzhou as an aged noodle establishment. It ventured into Shanghai in late 2018, and quickly gained popularity, especially on weekends, with long queues becoming the norm.

Yuxing Ji boasts three standout dishes in its repertoire: Crab Roes Noodles, Three Shrimp Noodles, and Crispy Chow Mein Noodles. Among these, the Three Shrimp Noodles stands out.

Though it comes with a hefty price tag of CNY 138 per bowl, it becomes a culinary sensation every Dragon Boat Festival. Crafting this dish is a meticulous process involving shrimp roe extraction and shrimp peeling.

In the cooking process, an oil pot is heated, followed by the sequential addition of shrimp, shrimp eggs, and shrimp roes, all rapidly stir-fried with a dash of cooking wine – no need for additional spices.

Once the noodles are cooked, the prepped three shrimp toppings are generously spread atop them, resulting in a delectable bowl of Three Shrimp Noodles.

🔴Chinese: 裕兴记面馆, Yu Xing Ji Mian Guan
⏰Opening Hours: 09:00 – 22:00
📍Address: No. 151 Hubei Rd, Huangpu District

36. Xie Huang Yu

This crab roe noodle restaurant has garnered significant popularity, boasting two branches in Shanghai, with the Xintiandi location particularly thriving. Their specialty revolves around the use of hairy crab and yellow croaker as primary ingredients, featuring two standout dishes: Crab Meat & Yellow Croaker Noodle Soup and Crab Roes Noodles, both celebrated for their crab roe.

The Crab Meat & Yellow Croaker Noodle Soup, priced at CNY 88 per bowl, impressively overflows with crab roe and is accompanied by fresh yellow croaker. The generous portion comes with the convenience of boneless fish, leaving the fish intact. The addition of potherb mustard to the soup enhances the overall flavor.

For just CNY 68, the Crab Roes Noodles showcase a mound of thick crab roe and crab meat blanketing the noodles. A drizzle of ginger vinegar, when mixed in, imparts a light umami flavor that envelops the noodles, making them exceptionally delectable.

🔴Chinese: 蟹黄鱼, Xie Huang Yu
⏰Opening Hours: 10:00 – 23:30
📍Address: No. 158 Julu Rd, Huangpu District

37. Yun He Noodle Restaurant

Every year at Yun He Noodle Restaurant, they introduce seasonal specialties, such as knife-fish noodles and knife-fish wonton exclusively available in March, and Three Shrimp Noodles, typically around the Dragon Boat Festival. During autumn, they unveil their highly anticipated crab noodles, all of which have become signature dishes for Yunhe Noodle Restaurant.

Among these, the Three Shrimp Noodles stand out as one of the most renowned delicacies. They feature a delectable topping created by stir-frying shrimp roes, shrimp eggs, and succulent shrimp. What truly distinguishes this dish, however, is the exceptional texture of the noodles—extraordinarily chewy, never overcooked to a mushy or tough consistency.

🔴Chinese: 雲和面馆, Yun He Mian Guan
⏰Opening Hours: 11:00 – 15:30 17:00 – 21:30
📍Address: No. 1603 Huashan Rd, Changning District

38. Yi Gui He Noodle Restaurant

The age-old secret behind this establishment’s renowned noodles lies in the acquisition of a noodle rolling machine from the previous century.

This contraption produces a dough with a uniquely firm and tight texture, masterfully crafted by the chef who expertly balances water, flour, and alkali ratios to achieve the perfect level of toughness and chewiness. To further enhance the noodles, they are promptly cooled in cold water after cooking.

The standout offering here is their signature dish, the Plain Noodles, devoid of any toppings. Instead, it relies solely on the exquisite soup base. This base consists of a combination of vegetable and meat stocks, enhanced with a special soy sauce infusion and complemented by spring onions and a touch of lard.

In the bustling culinary landscape of Shanghai, there is simply no contender to replace the unparalleled Plain Noodles served at Yi Gui He.

🔴Chinese: 逸桂禾面馆, Yi Gui He Mian Guan
⏰Opening Hours: 06:30 – 20:30
📍Address: No. 686 Xizang Rd(S), Huangpu District

39. Tai Zhou Lao Liu Seafood Noodle Restaurant

When it comes to exceptional seafood noodles in Shanghai, look no further than Tai Zhou Lao Liu! Their seafood offerings not only boast exceptional freshness but also generous portions, all at a more budget-friendly price compared to other seafood establishments.

During the right season, the white pomfret and hairfish are incredibly succulent, devoid of any unpleasant fishy or gamey odors.

What truly elevates the experience is their soup base, – unlike many establishments that dilute with water, they start by frying the fish, coaxing out the rich umami from the fish bones.

Next, they incorporate the early morning braised pork bone stock, and finally, top it off with locally sourced Taizhou wheat noodles. The result? An irresistible aroma that’s hard to resist.

🔴Chinese: 台州老六海鲜面馆, Tai Zhou Lao Liu Hai Xian Mian Guan
⏰Opening Hours: 09:00 – 00:00
📍Address: No. 1314-1 Shangnan Rd, Pudong Xin District

40. Xian Wei Noodle Restaurant

This Shanghai noodle joint stands out as possibly the only one with the audacity to feature ox tongue as its signature ingredient.

Using ox tongue is no small feat, given its cost and complexity. Yet, this establishment offers a generous portion of ox tongue in each bowl of Ox Tongue Noodles for just CNY 30, ensuring a hearty experience.

Ox tongue can easily turn chewy, but here, it’s sliced thinly, rendering it incredibly tender. After a spice-infused boil, it acquires a delightful marinade that eliminates any undesirable gaminess.

While most noodle joints provide a mere drizzle of scallion oil and soy sauce, this place takes it up a notch by adding a ladle of braised beef soup. Even their soy sauce is homemade, elevating the overall seasoning.

What truly sets this place apart is the boss’s homemade chili sauce and the addition of homemade pickles, enhancing the complexity of flavors in their noodles.

🔴Chinese: 鲜味面馆, Xian Wei Mian Guan
⏰Opening Hours: 07:00 – 19:30
📍Address: No. 61 Yangshupu Rd, Hongkou District

🌸Best Shanghai Restaurants: Final Thoughts

Creating a guide to find the best restaurants in Shanghai is no easy task – it’s almost like trying to do the impossible! That’s why we decided to focus on local eateries and well-established places that have been around for a long time.

Most of the restaurants we’ve included in this list have the approval of locals, and they’re here to stay, so you can count on having a great meal there.

Anyway, I hope this first edition of our Shanghai food guide helps you navigate the city’s ever-changing and sometimes overwhelming food scene. Just so you know, I’ll keep working on it, updating it, and making it even better each time I come back.

Thanks for reading, everyone, and I really hope you enjoy the food in Shanghai as much as I have!

China Travel Planning Guide&FAQ

🎫Do I need a visa for China?

Yes. Most visitors to China will need a visa to enter the country. The type of visa you need will depend on the purpose and duration of your trip, as well as your nationality. If you are a resident of the US, you must apply for a Chinese visa at the Consular Office in the country. On the other hand, inhabitants of countries like Japan, Canada, and the UK can request a visa through the Chinese Visa Application Service Center.

🤔Why is it necessary to install a VPN in China?

In China, the government has strict regulations on internet access, leading to the blocking of popular websites and social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, and YouTube. To access these sites, a VPN is suggested as a means of bypassing the restrictions. It is important to choose a reputable VPN provider and use caution while doing so. ExpressVPN has been historically deemed the most reliable VPN for this purpose, despite being heavily targeted by China’s censors. Nevertheless, it is still a widely preferred option owing to its ease of installation and user-friendliness.

📲Is it necessary to have a Chinese SIM card while in China?

Yes. It is crucial to acknowledge that accessing the internet in China may pose limitations due to certain websites being prohibited or filtered. To ensure uninterrupted connectivity while staying in China, purchasing a local SIM card is advisable. For optimum results, acquiring SIM cards from either China Unicom or China Mobile is recommended. While China Mobile has the most comprehensive coverage in China and is a market leader, China Unicom is more compatible with foreign phones, enabling 3G and 4G services. Or you can purchase a SIM card online.

🔮Should I buy China travel insurance?

Yes. Although China is generally a safe country for travel, it is still possible to encounter accidents or other unexpected occurrences. Therefore, obtaining travel insurance can provide a sense of security and financial protection. In my research, I have found that World Nomads is a reputable travel insurance provider that covers a wide range of activities and is recommended for the average traveler. Nevertheless, I advise you to compare insurance quotes from various providers before making a decision.

🚙Can you rent a car in China?

Unfeasible. Obtaining a Chinese driver’s license to rent a car and self-drive may seem like an option, but it is not a practical choice for most foreigners. Therefore, many prefer to opt for a driver or public transportation when navigating China, as it proves to be more convenient.

✈️What’s the best site to purchase flight tickets for China?

I suggest using Trip for affordable flights to China. As a China-based company, they often offer lower prices compared to foreign companies. Additionally, they offer English-speaking phone support in case of any issues.

🏡What is the best way to book hotels in China?

Not only does Trip offer a wider range of flight options, but it also provides a greater selection of hotels to choose from. Moreover, Agoda is a reliable resource for hotels throughout Asia.

🎒What do I pack for China?

Travel adapter and converter: China uses a different electrical system than many other countries, so it’s important to bring a travel adapter and converter if you plan to use electronic devices such as phones, cameras, and laptops.  
Sunscreen: The UV index in China can be high, particularly during the summer months, and prolonged exposure to the sun without protection can cause skin damage and increase the risk of skin cancer.
Deodorant: It should be noted that finding deodorant in China may not be a simple task.

📚Can a guidebook for traveling to China be useful?

Yes. If you’re planning to travel to China for the first time, a travel guidebook can be a valuable resource, and Lonely Planet is one of the most reputable guides available globally. Its comprehensive itineraries and recommendations take into account your personal preferences and can save you both time and money. The insider tips are also extremely helpful in navigating China’s unique cultural landscape like a local.

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