Shanghai for fishatarians???
I'm looking for some recommendations for great seafood in Shanghai with two requirements:
1 - that we able to get stellar dishes that contains no meat (mammal or poultry)
2 - that we are also able, if really pressed, to find some decent dishes that do contain meat, as well.
Since food is one of the guiding points for our visit, all areas of the city are to be considered.
I agree with Peter, except that I might argue that Shanghai is no less sea food oriented than Hong Kong, expecially when you include shellfish, freshwater fish and river eel (ah, the eel!)
Look for specialties like Mandarin "squirrel" fish, red-cooked fish tails, fresh herring dishes (this time of year), yellowfish soup, crystal shrimp and tea shrimp. Every self-respecting restaurant will have some or all of these.
I was in Shanghai just last week and huge displays of walk-away ready-to-eat crayfish adorned almost every street. I don't know if that's seasonal or something new, but in past visits (usually March/April and September/October) I never noticed all the crayfish.
As Peter mentioned, Shanghai is also rich in veggie food, expecially tofu and wheat gluten preparations. My wife has an ordiary Shanghai home cook's repertoire, but it includes an amazing array of forms of, and preparations for, tofu that please even an unrepentant carnivore like me.
I never encountered Cantonese dim sum of the quality of Hong Kong or even San Francisco's best, but I never really sought it. With all the great Shanghai breakfast snacks, there was little need to look further. A lot of them are vegetarian, too.
As far as meat goes, my main recommendation is to avoid beef altogether (except for specialties using variety cuts like beef tendon). But when you are ready to pig out, as it were, make sure you dig into a big, fatty, savory "hongshao tipang" (red-cooked pork joint) and gnaw on some Wuxi-style spare ribs.
I don't have restaurant recommendations because I was there 12 years ago, and it has changed so much. Your dining options will be much greater than mine, and mine were great. Shanghai cuisine is one of the most vegetarian-friendly of chinese cuisines, and if not as seafood-oriented as Hong Kong, there's certainly plenty of choice. Yellow fish in brown sauce is a Shanghai specialty, as is fried yellowfish "fingers". There are lots of vegetarian cold dishes, like kau fu (gluten puffs with black mushroom), vegetable duck, seaweed salad, broad beans, & smoked fish. + you should always be able to find vegetable dumplings, & all sorts of seafood prepared Shanghai-style.
There was already great Cantonese dim sum available in Shanghai when I was there, and there's probably much more good southern style Chinese food available now.