Shanghai restaurants with vegetarian options
I'm going to be in shanghai in a few weeks, and I'm wondering which restaurants (both causal and more formal) will definitely have something vegetarian. I can't find any online menus, and would probably need to make reservations before I leave.
La Villa Rouge
Le Garcon Chinois
If there are any other restaurants that you can recommend that have both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes, please let me know!
The notion of bona fide vegetarian options at non-vegetarian restaurants in China is probably pretty new and unfamiliar, so you are probably right to look to the newer paces that cater to expats.
On the other hand, Buddhist vegetarian restaurants are very skilled at making vegetarian dishes that are so tasty they can please even committed carnivores like me. I believe Gongdelin invented some dishes that are now standard in non-vegetarian restaurants, like braised kaofu and mock goose. There's a list of vegetarian restaurants here:
re: Gary Soup
In particular, I've heard that the (vegetarian) restaurant in the Jade Buddha Temple is very tasty. Longhua Temple also has a (vegetarian) restaurant, although I've never tried it or heard anything about it. Not saying anything bad, I'm just not vegetarian and never felt the need.
Thanks, those all look good!
I'm just wondering if nicer places such as Jade on 36 will make me something vegetarian even if it's not on the menu, or if that's less common in Shanghai than it is in NYC. I think we're set now for casual dinners and lunches, but I'm still looking for a couple of places with interesting food and great settings/views. M on the Bund seems to have enough vegetarian options, but looks like it could be bland?
Some of my favorites here are Tabla, Pure Food and Wine, Buddakan, Hangawi and La Bottega. A garden or roof deck is a big plus.
I've never tried getting a nice restaurant to make something not on the menu, here or elsewhere. I've gotten roadside places to do it, but generally just with basic foods that everyone knows how to make -- i.e. homestyle tofu or something.
To finish up the temple bit, there's a vegetarian restaurant/snack stand (it looked pretty small & informal) at the City God's Temple. Haven't tried it, just remember seeing it. It's in front of the entrance, to the right as you face the temple. The City God's Temple is a couple blocks from the YuYuan Garden, another major tourist attraction.
To return to your question, as far as fancy places go, I think the food at M on the Bund is overrated. New Heights across the street has better mid to high-end things, western & Chinese, and a better view. The food & prices at New Heights are similar to Mesa.
Sun/Aqua/Aquarium is fancy Japanese food, also down on the Bund, near Laris, etc. The bar (Aquarium) has an enormous fishtank covering one wall. You should be aware that the sushi rolls are equally enormous. Bigger than my fist.
Simply Thai is sort of average Thai food, probably worse than the stuff you can get in NYC, which makes it some of the better Thai food in Shanghai.
Le Garcon Chinois, despite its name, has a weird sort of anti-Chinese vibe to it. No characters on the menu, so if Chinese folks can't read Spanish or English, they're out of luck. Because all the waiters are Pilipino. Food's okay, I guess. Had the tapas. Haven't tried their Vietnamese food.
Mesa's nice Western food, mid-priced, burgers & on up.
You might check out T8 in Xintiandi. They have an open kitchen & I think the chef does some special performances/tasting menus on weeknights. I haven't tried that myself; I've eaten regular dinner there two other times and liked it very much both times. Food's expensive, quiet & dark atmosphere. It's sort of a fusion of Western & Eastern things. Xintiandi is a fancy shopping mall built in the style of traditional Shanghai houses, and maybe worth looking around.
In 2006 I was in Shanghai for 3 weeks and went to Vegetarian Lifestyle (77 Songshan Lu) a few times. It became my place to relax after walking around the city and to eat clean, refreshing food. The decor is tasteful modern and the menu features traditional dishes prepared only with vegetables. It's amazing how the ingredients are made to look like meat. You can also order special medicinal teas.