With eating practically a national pastime in China, it’s no wonder that Shanghai is teeming with places to grab a bite. From sophisticated French to a gleaming dim sum giant, here’s where to dine right now.
Like its Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star sister restaurant in New York City, Jean Georges Shanghai serves contemporary French fare with a touch of local flair. The Shanghai outpost is located on the Bund, a stretch of waterfront buildings dating back to the city’s colonial heyday. The Four-Star eatery’s interior was designed by New York architect Michael Graves; by day, sunlight pours in from the windows overlooking the waterfront and, at night, the copper-lined coffered ceilings reflect the tableside lamplight. Jean Georges Shanghai executive chef Paul Eschbach is a JG veteran; The Culinary Institute of America graduate spent eight years moving between Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s restaurants, with stints at Jean-Georges, Perry St and the now-defunct 66 restaurant. The menu at Jean Georges Shanghai sees small changes seasonally and, since Eschbach came on board in September, the kitchen has swapped in 16 dishes, including kingfish sashimi with toasted pecans and sherry vinaigrette. One item that won’t be going anywhere is Vongerichten’s signature molten chocolate lava cake, paired with a delicate scoop of buttery vanilla ice cream.
The Five-Star Four Seasons Hotel Pudong, Shanghai’s Chinese restaurant serves classic Shanghainese dishes such as saucy, rich red glazed pork alongside a selection of delicious dim sum such as shrimp fried noodles, steamed vegetable dumplings, xia jiao (shrimp dumplings) and pillowy steamed pork buns. The menu was influenced by the chefs from the Five-Star Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong’s Five-Star restaurant Lung King Heen. The Four-Star Shàng-Xí has five semi-precious-stone-themed private dining rooms (pearl, amber, purple jade, agate and jade), all flooded with sunlight. The main dining area seats just 22, retaining a warm, intimate ambience thanks to ultra plush carpeting and peacock feather wallpaper that wouldn’t look out of place in a designer’s atelier. With its location in Lujiazui, Shanghai’s Central Business District, Shàng-Xí is popular with nearby office workers, so it’s recommended that you make a reservation for lunch.
It was early April 2013 that Napa moved from a quiet local street behind Four-Star JW Marriott Hotel Shanghai at Tomorrow Square, where it had been for six years, to a tony Bund address. But even with the move, owner Philippe Huser, a graduate of The Lausanne Hotel School, maintained his original vision: a restaurant where the wine pairs with the food, not vice versa. In the kitchen is chef Patrick Dang, who was previously with T8 Restaurant & Bar in Xintiandi; his team turns out dishes such as the “carbonara” 2013, wherein pasta is replaced with cuttlefish shavings and, instead of egg and bacon, the “noodles” are studded with uni and roe. The nearly 800 bottles come from Napa’s 3,767-square-feet cellar; Huser stocks a wide range, from Shanxi-based Grace Vineyard to the sine qua non Chateau Lafite Rothschild.
Helming the kitchen at Four-Star property The PuLi Hotel and Spa’s house restaurant Jing’An is Melbourne chef Michael Wilson. The establishment, which takes its name from the neighborhood in which it’s located, is that rare breed of hotel eateries that’s even more popular with locals than it is with guests; come at lunch and you’ll see patrons in suits and natty creative types lingering over Wilson’s classic Australian dishes. The three-course set lunch menu is a lavish affair that will leave you sated but not stuffed. We’re partial to starting with the beetroot salad with apple and ricotta, pairing it with the pan-fried sea bass so that we have enough room to polish off the irresistible peanut butter parfait with salted caramel and chocolate. The equally pleasing dinner menu is more expansive and includes four types of oysters (Sydney stone, Fanny Bay, Kumamoto, and New Zealand rock) and six charcuterie options including prosciutto di Parma and Country Terrine.
The menu is requisitely Bible-thick at this Cantonese restaurant, located on the fourth floor of the new Jing An Kerry Centre. Other locations in neighboring Guangzhou and Shenzhen have done really well. A quaint local dim sum spot this latest Jade Garden is not; a full floor, the bustling restaurant can accommodate 350 people, all vying for crispy suckling pig, steamed dumplings stuffed with vegetables and shrimp, pan-fried turnip cake, flaky egg tarts and fluffy pineapple buns. The staff is skilled and speedy. Dishes come flying out of the kitchen and are immediately gobbled up by the discerning dim sum connoisseurs.
Photos Courtesy of Jean Georges Shanghai and The Pu Li Hotel and Spa