Where are the best restaurants in Shanghai & Beijing?
My family & I will be vacationing in Shanghai and Beijing next month. I have visited these two cities before, but the restaurants I visited were less than memorable. The worst one in Shanghai was the M on the Bund. It had a fantastic view but the food was simply awful. I hope my family can sample some of the best local restaurants China has to offer. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated!
XinJiShi, a restaurant in XinTianDi in Shanghai is really good if you want classic Shanghainese food that is cooked well.
My review is here: http://effli.wordpress.com/2011/04/12/xinjishi-新吉士）－shanghai/
another restaurant that is really good is Table No 1, which is more modern Western restaurant that is cooked by Jason Atherton (who was a successful chef under Gordon Ramsays). My review is here -
more posts about my trip to Shanghai:
I live in Shanghai and here are some restaurants I take visitors to:
Ji Shi (Old Jesse): really authentic Shanghainese food. Try calling a few days in advance for reservations since this place is very popular. Their newer branch Xin Ji Shi is not as good as the old one, but easier to get reservations at.
Stiller's: modern European fine-dining by Michelin-starred Stefan Stiller. Sleek, elegant interior and really beautiful and fantastic food. (http://www.sugarednspiced.com/stillers/)
Cafe Dan: a small cozy cafe in Tianzifang, serves luxurious coffee, desserts, and down-to-earth Japanese comfort foods that warm you up from the inside. (http://www.sugarednspiced.com/cafe-dan/)
Xiao Yang Sheng Jian (Yang's Fried Dumplings) - I'm personally not a big fan but this place is so popular with both foreigners and locals that I have to put in on here. The dumplings are good, but the line is always long and the place is quite hectic. (http://www.sugarednspiced.com/yangs-f...)
I personally find The Kitchen Salvatore Cuomo overrated. It's not bad but not worth the hefty price.
For those who want to eat steamboat/hotpot, I recommend Hai Di Lao http://www.cityweekend.com.cn/shangha..., their food is good and they have excellent service.. All at affordable prices.
For XLB, Ding Tai Feng is a good choice. Whereas for Shen Jian Bao, go for Xiao Yang Shen Jian or Jia Jia Tang Bao.
Shanghai food scene changed a lot since your post. I admit in 2007 there was very little pleasure I could get from Shanghai restaurants, Chinese and Western. There is now a good number of stunning authentic yet accessible Chinese restaurant, and in so many different categories. Take the Dim Sum category for instance > DIN TAI FUNG in Xin Tian Di is a killer. SPICY CHINESE > DI SHUI DONG on Dong Ping lu or THE SPICY JOINT on Dong Hu lu. For a CHINESE HOT POT go for the LAI FU LONG by Fuxing lu and Huai Hai lu.
For western restaurant: best view, atmosphere with an amazing grill selection + cocktails from the lounge > M1NT Restaurant & Grill, 318 Fuzhou lu by Shandong lu, 24th floor, dreamy place.
For Beijing, you have to visit Savour Asia's Beijing restaurants page - http://www.savourasia.com/content/vie... - for great, detailed and recent restaurant reports, organized by type/region. For example:
宝源饺子屋- Bao Yuan Jiaozi Wu
Chaoyang qu Maizi Dian Jie 6 hao lou
ChaoYang District, east of Lufthansa Center/Kempinski Hotel
$: Cheap. 4-8rmb per liang (50g) with a minimum 100g per order.
Directions: This is a smaller street but not hard to find. From Third Ring Road, exit at Yansha/Lufthansa Exit. At the second light (Somerset is on the SE corner, turning left heads you up Lady Street), turn right onto Maizi Dian. The restaurant is just after you pass over the canal, on your right side.
What we think
Dumpling heaven. Bao Yuan offers traditional boiled dumplings (shui jiao) with dozens of stuffings (xianr) sorted by type of meat, vegetable and specialty fillings (including pumpkin, wild mushrooms, fennel and more…). For a few extra kuai you can order wrappers colored brightly in purple, green orange and more using natural vegetable juice. Ask to see the menu from their sister Sichuan place right next door to supplement your dumpling meal.
There is no English menu but a few typical dumpling fillings you might try are: 猪肉白菜zhu rou bai cai (pork with cabbage), 鸡蛋韭菜 ji dan jiu cai (egg and chives), and 三鲜 san xian (usually, pork, shrimp and another tasty addition). Most dumpling menus are divided into categories by type of filling, or 馅儿(xianr).
The more I think about where I like to eat in Beijing, the more I realize that I don't much like Beijing food.
Da Dong is quite good (two locations, one near Poly Plaza, another near the Ag Exhibition Hall on East 3rd ring) -- the duck is smoked and has good flavor -- but I find it quite difficult to navigate the rest of their menu. Lots of seafood and stranger delicacies like deer tendon and exotic mushrooms that cater to a well-heeled Chinese crowd but aren't really worth the price for me.
I prefer HuaJia YiYuan on Guijie/ghost street near Dongzhimen, also mentioned on this thread. Overall more palatable if you ask me, although not as 'classy'
If you're not making a stop in Hong Kong, try out dim sum on this side of the world. Try to do it between 10 AM and 2PM for best results. My favorite in Beijing is at a place called Dong Hai, located down the street behind the Lufthansa Center (YanSha YouYi ShangCheng). It's clean and upscale inside, this is where the Hong Kong people go.
Two of my favorite restaurants in Beijing serve food from Southwest China -- Sichuan and Yunnan. There's Lin's Kitchen near DaWangLu and Feiteng Yuxiang near the Worker's Stadium (Gongti). Both of these neighborhoods are also worth wandering around in afterwards, filled with restaurants and interesting sights to see.
The easiest way to find out more info is to hit up one of the expat portals from Beijing. I tend to use http://www.cityweekend.com.cn/beijing...
This is especially convenient for people who don't speak Chinese as you can print out the address in Chinese to show cab drivers. If the Chinese text won't show up on your computer, at least the accurate info in English will help your guides/hotels point you in the right direction.
Happy travels and eating in China!!!
I'd actually go a little bit further and say that the dining options are actually pretty average to poor in Beijing, period (the options get considerably better as head towards the south of China). But if you're stuck in Beijing, another place to try is Wu Ming Ju (无名居), a chain that serves the dishes that you can find around Shanghai, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang. There's a branch to the east of the Lufthansa (Yansha) Plaza at 32 Zaoying Beili (枣营北里32号), phone 6502-1568.
Otherwise, if you feel compelled to eat duck (an aside -- Peking duck is one of those things you probably have to do once, but only once -- highly, highly overrated), Dadong mentioned above is overall probably your best option. The branch in the Xinnancang building (behind the new Poly Plaza) is fairly new and not a bad setting.
For dumplings, there's the Tianjin Baijiao Yuan (天津百铰园) chain. I think the most popular one is in the Xidan District at Xin Wenhuajie Jia12 (新文化街甲12号), 6605-9371. The name literally means "Tianjin One Hundred Dumpling Garden," and there seem to be that many varieties. I think the menu is only in Chinese. If you do go, it's good to get a plate of pork, vegetable, and fish dumplings (there is dog, too, if you have that sort of craving), and then some other dish if you have room. It's very inexpensive.
The new Shin Kong shopping center near the Xidawang subway station has a new Dintaifung and a Bellagio on the top floor. It's pretty safe, and the new shopping center definitely has a Hong Kong/Taiwan feel. It's not really what people come to Beijing for, but after a day or two of dust, road construction, and the general annoyances that make up living in Beijing, you may want to take a break by going to this mall.
By the way, if you get an offer to go to Red Capital Club, think twice before agreeing. Very mediocre food at unreasonable prices. It is in a traditional "siheyuan" courtyard building, but it really isn't worth it.
re: Yi Chi Wei Rong
Glad to find the board...especially reading the posts on the don't! I second the votes on Red Capital and M on the bund. Those are definite NO, NOs. I recently tried the newer restaurants like Jean-George and everything else in that building and found it to be rather unimpressive.
That said, where can you go in Shanghai? I've been rather disappointed by Chinese food, I find them to be about the same flavors, maybe because they all train at the same school. For Chinese, I rather prefer dim sum or other non-spicy options. My fall back safety is always Bellagio which is a train in major cities with consistent food, decent service, nice atmosphere and fabulous asian desserts. I especially love their mango smoothy and combination ice--a eye feast full of sweetened beans and tapioca.
I'm completely in my elemend when I recommend western options (for when you get tired of Chinese food like I did)--The Kitchen Salvatore Cuomo in Pudong and Roosevelt for Steak.
For Beijing, I was really impressed by Mare Nostrum which came recommended by a very well-traveled Ritz-Carlton employee. Mare Nostrum claimed that they have a one-star Michelin restaurant in Spain. My husband, a die-hard foodie, claimed it was the best restaurant in China and he met a sommelier for Hyatt who claimed it was one of the top in Asia ex-Japan.
Japanese, I go to Yotsuba. It's a small hole-in-the-wall with maybe 16 seats done by a Japanese chef/owner who is quite meticulous. They only have sushi--no American rolls and no cooked hot foods (only crab miso soup). Very reasonable. Set menu starts at about 200 kuai.
In Shanghai, my favorite restaurants for regional cuisine include:
Shu Tian Ge - great Sichuan - http://www.shanghai-eats.com/portal/1502_0/Shu_Tian_Ge.aspx
Gu Yi - Hunan - http://www.shanghai-eats.com/portal/446_0/Gu_Yi_Fumin_Lu.aspx
Shanghainese - Chun is good, I prefer Mao Long next door - but both are about the same in taste, price, size, etc. - http://www.shanghai-eats.com/portal/1570_0/Mao_Long.aspx
For Northern food - try Dong Bei Ren - http://www.shanghai-eats.com/portal/388_0/Dongbei_Ren_Panyu_Lu.aspx
Someone mentioned Yang's Fry Dumpling - also fantastic. But the walking street - Wujiang Lu is scheduled for demolition. If you arrive to a pile of rubble, ask someone where the new location is (assuming they re-open somewhere else).
Also, someone else mentioned Southern Barbarian. It is a bit out of the way, but worth it. Word has it they are moving soon - so call ahead to make sure the address is correct - http://www.shanghai-eats.com/portal/1613_0/Southern_Barbarian.aspx
For all you can eat Japanese food (as well as beer and sake) - try Hatsuhana - for 168RMB you can't go wrong - http://www.shanghai-eats.com/portal/5...
Shanghai has a lot to offer these days, so you are in for a treat!
Wujiang Lu being razed? What are they going to do with it? Xiao Yang also has a branch on Kangding Lu as well as one inside the Shanghai No. 1 Provisions Store.
What I'll miss most on Wujiang Lu is the ladies selling chou doufu a little to the west of Xiao Yang's. Best fried chou doufu I've found in Shanghai.
re: Gary Soup
I've heard rumors that Wujiang Lu is going to become a high-end shopping mall, although that's a good guess for pretty much all of Shanghai. The block east of Shimen Yi Lu is already closed down (although many vendors have just moved to the covered alley between Wujiang Lu and the Nanjing Lu stores), and I believe the block east of Shimen Yi Lu will close any day now.
There's another Yang's branch on the corner of Wuding Lu and Shaanxi Lu.
Yu Xin has good Sichuan food (I think; never been to Sichuan). There's two, one on Weihai Lu and another on Nanjing Dong Lu. You'll have to wait half an hour to an hour to get a table though. They also take reservations, but the reservations I saw were all for groups of 8 and up, so I don't know if there's some limitation.
I may have said this already, but Ai Mei in the Le Meridien near People's Square now has pretty good Cantonese dim sum for reasonable prices.
Hi...Thanks for the rec of Mao Long! Tonight i wandered over to that street solo, planning on trying Cun: when i peeked into Cun, it was totally full and i got stony stares from all the diners and from the woman who was waiting on one of the tables.
But i remembered that you'd rec'd the place next door (the place immediately to the left of Cun?), so i peeked in there: also full, but the owner (Tsao?) was totally gracious and escorted me to a table in the tiny room upstairs...i only got here ten days ago, so i speak almost no Mandarin and read zero, but the owner rumaged through a cabinet and pulled out some xerox'd pages from what looked like an old partially-completed attempt to put together an English menu...and i pulled out a list of Shanghainese dishes w/ translations (ripped out of my guidebook) and he happily put check marks next to ones they have -- great first impression of the place, because not many places are willing to tackle the language barrier w/ such good cheer and enthusiasm...
Food: i had the soy sauce pork: tender pieces w/ crisp green peppers...the eggplant w/ salty fish (i liked it because i've been in Thailand for many months eating fish sauce daily, but others be warned this is a very salty/fishy/oily dish -- which was fine by me) and the tiger skin chilis (yummy)...i don't think i ordered a varied enough combo of items, sauce-wise, but since the point of visit was to try to some local dishes that are different from the Sichuan and Hunanese stuff that i usually gravitate towards, it was a success...and the welcoming nature of the place was the unexpected pleasure (made me feel like i was briefly back in Thailand)...
Thanks for the rec...
I'd recommend Xiaowangfu (小王府) in Beijing. There are several locations around the city: one near Ritan Park, one behind Beihai park, one near Sanlitun, and one on Guang Hua Lu. It's well known and quite popular, so I'm sure your hotel will be able to direct you there.
The food is Chinese homestyle, and the head chef is from Sichuan, so the menu contains quite a few Sichuanese dishes. Their Beijing duck might be the best in the city, and all the other dishes I had there were excellent as well.
I know for sure that the Sanlitun location has a non smoking section. The other branches may have one as well.
Evidence of how good it is: I have two friends who went there this past summer. They ordered four dishes between the two of them, and, after finishing, ordered another round of the same dishes. It's that good. (And they were that hungry).
Some good thoughts below. I agree that M on the Bund's food is rather uninpiired. I would not say that it was bad, but other than the view on a special occasion, definitely not worth it. To be honest, much of Shanghai's "haute cuisine" leaves me deflated. We had eaten at Jean George's a few months back and while good, it left me expecting more. I have been to a few of the upper echelon dining establishments here and my recommendation is this, spend your time and money somewhere else. There really much better value and "wow" at the local places.
So, some to consider in Shanghai. Chun on Jinxian lu, and you would need to make a booking. This place has all of 4 or 5 tables and you get what she is making that day, but very authentic Shanghainese, very natural. (Ask hotel for help.)
1221 (1221 Yanan Lu) is a good choice that ever so slightly caters to expats, both Asian and Western. Good food, nice ambiance, good choices for a range of eaters.
Although they are in the process of cleaning it up a bit, the street food on Wujiang Lu, close to Nanjing Lu is also a good choice. This is one of the few places you feel like your in China while in Shanghai. Try the Shanghai soup dumplings, fried on the bottom, crispy, softer on the top, pork meatball with soup inside (be careful!! the soup is hot, bite a small piece and gently suck the soup out). Can't remember the name, but just look for the very small restaurant (almost a stand) with a line of people waiting.
For a bit of modern Chinese, try Shanghai Uncle, several locations. If you like duck, preorder the 8 treasure duck, a great dish.
Yang's Kitchen, in the middle of the French Concession, good and cheap Shanghainese food.
A bit out of the way, but still close is Southern Barbarian, a Yunnan restaurant with some nice dishes, some spicy others not, good beer selection. (1440 Qiujiang Lu near Gong He Xin, owner speaks English, very friendly 13621797634)
For Xinjiang (Chinese Muslim) try Yakexi, Wujiang Lu north of Nanjing Lu. (most Xinjiang places here are pretty decent, run by Uighurs.)
If you like Indian we have quite a few places that are good. My favorites are Vedas, Bukhara and Nepali Kitchen. Nepali Kitchen is a Shanghai expat institution, second floor has cushion on the floor seating, very cool. If you go, definitely get the cheese balls.
Lastly, being from Texas, there is one BBQ place I can recommend, Bubba's out by the Hongqiao Marriott. Ken does a good job on most meats, Smoked chicken is great. They have a range of beers and now some East Coast microbrews. Good if you get tired of local food.
Hope this helps.
It may be personal, but was not happy with Shanghai Uncle or the 8Treasure Duck. The 8 Treasures was nothing more than a duck fat soaked pilaf in my estimation. Tasty but undistinguished and an appetite killer for much more. Cold smoked carp full of treacherous bones, though tasty. This was only an okay restaurant for us - loved South Beauty far more for a good tourist experience: good pictures and descriptions in English on the menu. Shanghai Uncle menu was hard to figure out and didn't provide enough information.
I think Shanghai Uncle is hit and miss. I thought the dry scallop dish with XO sauce on Peking Pancakes didn't work, but enjoyed the other things I tried.
I thought the xun yu (smoked fish) was a great version, but I've also learned that to appreciate Shanghainese food one needs to overcome the Fear of Fishbones.
I second the comment about Beijing food -- if you like oily, salty and doughy, then Beijing is the place for you. But since you're going there, you have to eat. For duck, I think the best value is Da Dong. They opened a new branch in the Nanxingcang International Plaza (next to the "New" Poly Plaza) at 5169-0329. The duck is as good as any other place , and they have other dishes that make for a decent overall meal (unlike many other duck places, which have duck, duck, and more duck -- oh, and how about the duck?). There is a good Jiangsu-Zhejiang restaurant called Zhang Sheng Ji (it's part of a nationwide chain), which is on the northern Third Ring Road, next to the Zhejiang Building (tel 6442-0006). They have a huge menu, and the taste is slightly sweet. For more traditional, there's the Hua Jia Yi Yuan restaurant on Gui Jie -- there are two restaurants, and the one you want to go to is in the old courtyard (si he yuan) house (tel 6405-1908). The cuisine is kind of a mish-mash, but it's slightly spicy. All have picture menus, and I'm pretty sure there's English w/ the Chinese.
For Shanghai, a standby is Baoluo, on 271 Fumin Road, 6279-2827. It's tiny and noisy, but the food is not bad if you choose well. I think there's English w/ the Chinese on the menu, but I'm not positive. The xiaolongbao debate rages in other posts, but a nice place for Shanghai snacks in a clean setting with decent prices is Guangming Cun at 588 Huaihai Road, 5306-7878. The menu is only in Chinese. Finally, the Jade Garden at 127 Maoming Nan Road, near Huaihai Road, at 5403-7028 is a good bet. None of these places is as fancy (or has as good a view) as M on the Bund (I've never been, but from news articles, it looks fancy), but the food is pretty good. They have the standard picture menu w/ Chinese and English.
If you need the names and addresses in Chinese, let me know.
re: Yi Chi Wei Rong
Jade Garden has several branches:
127 Maoming Nan Lu
near Huaihai Zhong Lu, Metro Line 1 Shaanxi Nan Lu Station
895 Dalian Lu
near Feihong Lu
1121 Yan'an Zhong Lu
near Huashan Lu, Metro Line 2 Jingan Temple Station
1-2/F, Huatai Building, 388 Zhaojiabang Lu
near Taiyuan Lu
Plus two in Pudong:
877 Dongfang Lu
near Weifang Lu,Metro Line 2 Shiji Da Dao Station
6/F, 88 Shiji Da Dao
near Yincheng Zhong Lu
I've only been to the Dalian Lu branch, so I don't know how the food compares among them.
re: Yi Chi Wei Rong
HuaYia YiYuan is beautiful inside. (However, the picture menu is the first tip-off that it doesnt' cater to many locals).
In Beijing, I also quite like South Silk Road in HouHai (though you def. need a reservation there).
Also, South Beauty has restaurants in ShangHai and BeiJing - upscale southern Chinese food with really delicate and beautiful preparations.
re: Yi Chi Wei Rong
I thought Dadong was just ok, but they did serve a "healthy" duck (i.e. less greasy) if you're afraid of oily food. But there is fantastic food in Beijing, though it helps to speak mandarin or at least not fear signing for your food. If you're on this website you love food so may be willing to brave it...
Dumplings (Jiaozi) are northern staples, and old style Beijing food is coming back with a vengeance. There are a ton of recs on cityweekend.com (can i post that?) by cuisine with addresses in both English and Chinese.
Baoyuan - Shuzhuyu is a combo dumpling/Sichuan restaurant with menus with pictures (Chaoyang district, Maizidian St. #6 (north side) 朝阳区，麦子店街６号楼北侧。Off the North 3rd ring road, on same block as Hard Rock/Lufthanza but way on the other side of the block (east side).
For Sichuan I highly recommend Baguo buyi, about 1 km north of the Forbidden City on Dianmen Dongdajie. Menu has photos. Everything was excellent, try the yellow eels, hacked chicken and of course dan dan noodles. Then stroll north through quaint hutongs to the Drum and Bell Tower neighborhoods.
I second this recommendation. My wife and I were in Beijing last fall for a month and ate at Baiguo Buyi over and over again. Great food. The branch mentioned above has rooms next to the street and a large building in back, across a courtyard. In the large building at, I think 8 PM, you can se a demonstration of bian lian, the Sichuanese art of face-changing. It's a terrific show, almost as good as the food. (BTW, my wife doesn't enjoy hot food and she was always happy to eat there.)
re: Michael Rodriguez
I third this recommendation.
We had a fantastic Szechuan fish dish there. However, we had some rather embarrassing communication issues at this restaurant. Even though the menu has photos and English translations, none of the restaurant staff when we went seemed to speak any English and although I surely don't expect everywhere I go to speak English, I didn't know enough Mandarin to get through it.
At any rate, once we got the food it was memorably delicious, but make sure you learn some food Mandarin before you go to Beijing.
Quan je du (Beijing) for Peking duck is pretty good, but expensive. I've found hole in the wall places in Beijing for $50 RMB for good duck, but not sure if it's in existence anymore.
You might also want to visit the Wangfujing night market. They had a ton of stands of food where you can just point and order. It's not very clean, but the food is tasty.
As for Shanghai, Jia Jia for soup dumplings/xiao long biao seems to be the current favorite.
Actually, if you are interested in trying some street-food, the WanFuJing night market is actually a lot cleaner than most other street-food stalls, because it is pretty strictly regulated since the gov. knows that it is a tourist hot-spot. It may not look sanitary at first glance, but compared to the typical street-food vendor, the wangfujing market is sparkling. If you would like to be adventuresome and your are simply vacationing, that is a safer place to be adventuresome... if that makes any sense. (Though I'm not suggesting that cleanliness correlates with tastiness)
Also - though taste is a pretty subjective thing, it should be noted that Beijing is not famous for their cuisine (and Shanghai isn't really either - but Beijing even less so). It is actually Southern China that is most famous for their cuisine - and is the type of Chinese food that is most familiar to American taste buds. Depending on personal preference and familiarity, even the "best local restaurants" may seem "simply awful."
That being said, as WHills mentioned, QuanJeDu is pretty much the most famous restaurant for Beijing's most famous dish, it's namesake duck. If you are only passing through for vacation, this would probably be the spot to try it. =)