by Graham Earnshaw
Shanghai has the best range of restaurants in all of China, except for Hong Kong, and it’s getting better all the time. Although for some reason, I have never in all my years in Shanghai ever been able to find a plate of Shanghai fried noodles which matches what an ordinary Shanghainese reataurant in Hong Kong can provide. Strange.
Putting this plate of tepid fried noodles to one side, here is a list of some of the most outstanding, interesting and edible restaurants around Shanghai:
The list begins inevitably with M on the Bund, run by Michelle Garnaut, which in no time flat has established itself as a globally important restaurant, thanks to location, atmosphere, service, and that certain je ne sais qua that all top restaurants have. It’s better not to look at the view rather than the prices. Located on the roof of one of the old trading houses lining the river, M features – and seems to own – the Bund, the Huangpu River, and the surreal fa?ade of Pudong on the other bank. International standard winelist, great desserts, and a sense of being somewhere special. M on the Bund, 7/f Floor, 20 Guangdong Lu, (on the Bund), 6350-9988.
Next comes Park 97, operated by the California Group from Hong Kong. The location in Fuxing Park is unique and the food in both the Japanese and Italian restaurants (Tokio Joe’s and Baci) is excellent. The pizza, in my almost completely objective opinion, is the best in Shanghai. But Park 97 really sparkles later in the evening in the California Club annex, newly expanded to handle the crowds. This is the coolest place in Shanghai, and the place to go to watch the see-and-be-seen crowd in their element. Park 97, 2 Gaolan Lu, Fuxing Park, 6318-0785.
Still the most favoured Chinese restaurant in town amongst the expat crowd is 1221, owned and operated by the other Michelle – Michelle Liu. It is the ultimate proof that the clich?? about location, location and location is wrong. Shanghai food in most restaurants in the city is often spoiled by an excess of sugar, oil, MSG, salt and other gunk. Not at 1221. For a transcendental experience, try the onion cakes. 1221 Yan’an Xi Lu, (near Panyu Lu), 6213-6585.
Japanese restaurants in Shanghai, god bless them, have been engaging in a vigorous price war over the past couple of years, offering all you can eat and drink (and drink!) for 200 rmb, or 150 rmb or whatever. The best two are Ooedo and Kissho. Ooedo lacks a teppan grill, but its sashimi is great, and the bustling feel to it is invigorating. Kissho is more out of the way, in the compound of the Luwan District Sports Centre, was which developed as a sort of Little Tokyo, complete with bars and a golf range. Kissho has the best Miso soup in town. O-Edo, 30 Donghu Lu (between Huaihai Zhong Lu and Changle Lu), 6403-3332. Kissho (Jixiang in Mandarin), 135 Jianguo Xi Lu (at Shanxi Nan Lu intersection), 6473-1385.
The Xintiandi development south of Huaihai Lu, added a whole new range of gastronomic answers to Shanghai’s eternal question: where shall we go to dinner? The area is a renovated and reconstructed section of old Shanghai alleyways into a trendy 21st century nightlife district. T-8 is one of the top restaurants in there and has a menu and an ambience which challenges M on the Bund, but naturally without the view, and (as far as I know) no one called Michelle. T8, 8 Xintiandi North, Lane 181, Taicang Lu, 6355-8999.
Xin Ji Shi, also in Xintiandi, this is a Chinese restaurant with solid traditional Shanghainese credentials. Building 9, Lane 169, Taicang Lu, by Huangpi Nan Lu, 6336-4746.
Indian food in modern Shanghai started with Tandoor, which is rumoured to have received from the former mayor Zhu Rongji a five-year monopoly on Indian food in the city. True or not, it was 1999 before a second Indian restaurant opened. Tandoor is good, and the d??cor is other-worldly, but its pricey for what you get. 59 Maoming Nan Lu, 6472-5494.
Other Indian choices – Kaveen’s Kitchen, above the New Old Manhattan Bar (don’t ask), on Huashan Lu opposite the Hilton Hotel (6248-2777), and the Nepali Kitchen, which serves Indian, Nepalese and Tibetan cuisine as you sit on cushions on the floor (on second floor, ground floor normal seating). Nepali Kitchen, 178 Xinle Lu, 5404 5077.
For jolly overly-lit Chinese budget food, including solid greasy plates of noodles and dimsum round the clock, go to any of the Bifengtang (Typhoon Shelter) restaurants. There’s one opposite the Shanghai Centre at 1333 Nanjing Xi Lu (at Tongren Lu intersection), and another at 175 Changle Lu, near the Maoming Lu intersection.
Other good Chinese restaurants: Di Shui Dong (meaning water-dripping cave, but it doesn’t) has good Hunanese food and waitresses dressed as peasant girls who sometimes acknowledge your presence. 2/f 56 Maoming Nan Lu, by Changle Lu. 6253-2689. For good Cantonese food, seafood and the best dimsum in Shanghai, try Fu Lin Xian at 37 Sinan Lu. 6358-3699.
In recent months, Shanghai’s gusto-filled gastronomes have been digging into cows in a serious way. Beef emporia are hot, and aromatic for half a block in every direction. The favored spot by our resident dead animal eater is Brasil Steak House at 1582 Huaihai Zhong Lu, across from the Shanghai Library. 6437-7288.
For breakfast, there’s Delifrance, ground floor of Central Plaza, 381 Huaihai Zhong Lu, (at the Madang Lu intersection). Good coffee and bread. Or Keven’s Caf?? at 525 Hengshan Lu (by Wuxing Lu). Plus a new Starbucks every other minute somewhere near wherever you happen to be.