Shanghai’s must-eat foods, like red-braised pork (hongshao rou), pan-fried soup dumplings (shengjian bao) and sesame pancakes (da bing) are good for the soul, but not so much for the body. Balance your Shanghai diet with a visit to these three restaurants, each serving colorful, healthy and delectable food that’ll leave you feeling good.
Mahota Kitchen specializes in hot pot, a Chinese fondue-style experience in which a pot of simmering, steaming broth sits in the center of the table, surrounded by platters of raw meat and vegetables, as well as sides like eggs (in this case, free-range) and tofu.
What sets Mahota apart from the city’s legion of hot pot spots is that everything here comes from the restaurant’s own certified-organic farm on Chongming Island, just off Shanghai’s coast. On the farm, which is open for family-friendly visits, free-range chickens and pigs are raised and vegetables, grains and herbs are sustainably grown.
The fresh meat, produce and eggs are brought into the city daily to be served in the restaurant and sold at the adjacent shop. During Shanghai’s cold, damp winter, Mahota is packed day and night with locals and expats seeking a healthy, hearty and warming meal.
Ban Ban by Sproutworks
When salad- and vegetable-focused Sproutworks opened a few years ago, it sent clean eaters into a happy frenzy. Now, hopping on the everything-in-a-bowl bandwagon, the Angelenos behind Sproutworks opened Ban Ban.
All diets can be accommodated at Ban Ban, where the menu is clearly labeled so you know what’s gluten-free, spicy, has dairy and is raw.
The bowls are the way to go. Choose from the menu’s unique flavor combinations, like HCMC is My Jam (Vietnamese fish sauce, shrimp cake, egg, pickled vegetables and wood-ear mushroom) or The Soul in Seoul (kalbi sauce, shiitake mushrooms, kimchi, sesame sprouts and spinach). Then pick your base, protein and toppings to customize your healthy creation.
The most beautiful vegetarian food in Shanghai is found at this upmarket Chinese restaurant, whose Bund-side branch is especially good for romantic dinners. Wujie’s team endeavors to use organic and local Chinese ingredients whenever possible.
The luscious strawberries atop your almond cake hail from nearby Chongming Island. The wild truffles elevating tender abalone mushrooms come from a farming collective in Yunnan, and the organic white and brown rice is delivered from Heilongjiang, China’s northernmost province.
Changes to the menu are made seasonally, so on one visit you might find crispy and creamy tofu tempura — a mountain of crunchy fried tofu atop a creamy tofu cube — and, on another, you could try winter melon with king oyster mushrooms.
Desserts are particularly inventive; chocolate cake gets dolled up with tamarind sorbet, making it a sour, sweet and refreshing treat.