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Shanghai - top restaurant feedback needed

I'm going to Shanghai in June and am researching options for a nice dinner - I've narrowed down to the list below but need some help with the final decision. Food needs to be great, but I'm also taking into consideration atmosphere and views:

3 on the Bund restaurants:
- Laris
- Jean Georges
- Whampoa Club
- New Heights

T8
Sens&Bund
M on the Bund

Any feedback or additional suggestions would be much appreciated.
Thanks in advance!

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  1. I've only been to Whampoa Club. I was not bowled over by the food, or the service, but the view of the river and Pudong is certainly lovely if you are seated next to the window. There are only a few tables along the window, so make sure to ask for one in advance. I wrote a report about my meal there which you can find, I hope, with a search.

    1. I haven't been to Shanghai for over a year (and in fast-moving Shanghai, things could've changed beyond recognition), so my comments, based on my experiences there last year in January & March should be taken with a time caveat. Actually, my personal choice if it's only going to be only one dinner would be M on the Bund!

      Here are my takes on the restaurants you mentioned:

      1. M on the Bund is my all-time favorite restaurant in Shanghai - why, because I've been an ardent fan of Michelle Garnaud, that feisty Aussie restaurateur who defied critics & naysayers to open the first independent French restaurant in Hong Kong, M on the Fringe, back in the 1990s. M on the Fringe was a legend in its own right, but when Michelle took her sense of adventurism & devil-may-care attitude to Shanghai and opened M on the Bund at a time when NO foreign restaurateur had attempted such feat, it became a veritable temple of gastronomy for me when I visited Shanghai. Its location (No. 5 on the Bund) was also fabulous, and afforded a beautiful, panoramic view of the Huangpu River, dividing the classical facades of old Puxi from the Flash Gordonesque towers of Pudong. My favorite time to eat at M on the Bund is during weekend brunch. Their Eggs Benedict was supreme, and their divine, light, fruit-laden Pavlova transforms you back to Sydney with every bite. Feedback from other Chowhounds on M on the Bund had been mixed - some good, some bad (more leaning towards the latter in recent years). Bur for me, it'll always be my first & last stop on any trip to Shanghai.

      2. T8 is probably the most under-rated restaurant at Xintiandi, where people go to Din Tai Fung for the "best xiao long bao in the world" (as per last Nov's International Herald Tribune), Ye Shanghai (refined Shanghainese, by way of Hong Kong), Crystal Jade Restaurant (HK-Cantonese food, by way of Singapore), Luna (Italiano, by way of Malaysia) or Simply Thai (I preferred their branch in the French Concession, where visiting Thai royalty dine at). Recently, Singapore's Justin Quek (a minor celebrity-chef in his home country) also opened Le Platane French restaurant, to add to the mind-boggling food choices there. But T8 is my personal favorite in Xintiandi - the last time I dined there, I had perfectly poached eggs on sauteed mushrooms for starters. A simple dish, but when executed with aplomb at T8's open kitchen, was truly orgasmic in the pleasures it imparted on my palate. T8's star entree then was the Sichuanese high-pie, a kind of Chinese Melton Mowbray pie which, when you cut through the rich, buttery crust, yielded an aromatic filling of delicately-spiced shredded lamb. It's the kind of dish which haunts you after your first taste, and which gently but forcefully make you want to go back the very next day for a second helping. And then the next day, and the next...

      3. Sens & Bund - extremely disappointing and shockingly inept when I dined there last year (dry overcooked food, tasting like Chinese stir-fries than French fine-dining). Also, shockingly high prices - US$300 for two, plus wine. I had high regard for Jacques & Laurent Pourcel, but their Shanghainese venture (with inadequately-trained Chinese chefs) was sooooo bad, it took a trip to their excellent sister-restaurant, D'Sens in Bangkok's Dusit Thani Hotel last Christmas, to restore a bit of my faith in their reputation.

      4. Laris was THE place to see & be seen last year. Excellent service and nice choice of entrees. I was dining with a fussy Japanese foodie-friend (he prefers to be called a food connoisseur, I call him a glutton) and the marvellous menu degustation provided a beautiful & substantial repast, filled with a variety of interesting tastes & textures. Me, I only remembered my dessert platter which was square and displayed a collection of cakes, ices & mousse.

      5. Jean Georges - another classic example of a good brand name gone bad in Shanghai. Inexplicably, they served EVERY dish using gigantic, cavernous bowls. Very uncomfortable when you use knife & fork over a washbasin-like vessel, trying to get to your miniscule steak lying at its base. My only memory of Jean Georges Shanghai (besides the beautiful view) was the extra-hard bread roll! But my cousin in New York tells me it's the same in its Manhattan counterpart (?!).

      6. Whampoa Club - again, another restaurant that has been getting more than its fair share of brickbats. But (no jeers, please), it's my personal favorite Chinese restaurant in Shanghai. I liked Jereme Leung's cooking since he was executive chef at Four Seasons Hotel Singapore's Jiang Nan-Chun. His inventive, modern-interpretation of Shanghainese cuisine was fun - e.g. take the boring but traditional drunken chicken - Jereme turns the Shaoxing wine into a sorbet and use this as topping for the chicken slices. For me, Whampoa Club is another must-try at the Bund.

      Haven't tried New Heights but, if your list of restaurants above is any indication of your dining preferences, you should also try Jade on 36 at the Pudong Shangri-La Hotel for its molecular cuisine; Shintori Null for its industrial-chic Blade Runner-type decor & cutting-edge Japanese cuisine; the beautiful La Villa Rouge (French-Japanese fusion in a building which used to house the Pathe recording company, and where the Chinese national anthem was composed); Sasha's (Viet-Mediterranean at a house which used to belong to one of the Soong Sisters); and Yongfoo Elite, a luxurious turn-of-the-century manor which transforms you to Shanghai of the Roaring 20s when you step over the threshold.

      5 Replies
      1. re: klyeoh

        -- that lamb pie dish at T8 sounds great...i shall try it

        -- i've only been to the bar at new Heights...nice view, can't comment on the food...

        -- i'd also recommend adding Lost Heaven to the list...heavily atmospheric Yunnan/Burmese/tribal dishes...i did a mini-review of it on another thread...

        -- and i've visited Yongfoo Elite: the interior is stunning...haven't eaten there yet but plan to try it soon...

        -- i've been pretty unhappy w/ all Thai food i've had in Shanghai...Simply Thai in the Fr.Concession is maybe the best of the bunch, but only mediocre by Thailand standards...imo, ok for a lunch if you happen to be craving Thai in the area but not a destination place

        1. re: klyeoh

          hi klyeoh, i stopped by the simply thai (in the area with all the shikumen-style buildings, which housed lots of european-style restaurants) for a light, early dinner, tonight. just wanted to report back and thank you for the heads up.

          i found the food sort of chinese-ified, but enjoyable, overall. we had the spicy beef salad (good), authentically spicy green papaya salad, and a stirfry of chicken with basil, which i didn't really find distinguishable from chinese stirfries. with a glass of wine and a margarita, the total came to about 260 RMB.

          i don't know the scene for thai food in shanghai very well at all and have never been to thailand (though I've eaten homemade thai food made by friends). by NYC standards, the food was not bad and thankfully not overly sweet.

          'preciate the tip!

          1. re: cimui

            It's always a pleasure to hear feedback from a fellow CH, cimui. Well, Simply Thai is as good as it can get in Shanghai though, as you've said, it's very much adjusted to local tastes.

            A place which is recommended by some relatives who've lived in Shanghai the last couple of years is Thai House at Wuding Lu. There's been conflicting reviews about the place by folks I know - some loved it, some don't. I wished I'd tried it myself to draw my own conclusion. It's simple but more authentic than Simply Thai - forget the ambience, and this place is cash-only. You can read more from this blog:

            http://shanghaijournal.blogspot.com/2...

            P.S. - I was supposed to fly to Bangkok this weekend for a couple of weeks, but the current political unrest/violence has put paid to that. You have to taste the food in restaurants which cater to local Thais to know what you've been missing!

            1. re: klyeoh

              klyeoh, it really is a shame about the recent political unrest in thailand. i was hoping to take a weekend there, as well, this trip. (thailand is very, very high on my list of foodie destinations to visit.) i hope, when you end up going, you go and return safely.... and i can't wait to read about your great chowhound adventures, there!

              1. re: klyeoh

                Thai House is the only place i'll eat Thai food in SH...i've had many very good meals there...however, their second location in Xuhui is nowhere near as good as the Wuding Lu location (at least that's how it was last June, the second location might have become more consistent since then)

                i'm not a fan of Simply Thai...not truly bad, but very westernized...

          2. Fu 1088 is THE place - food and atmos are both great - it's in a converted old mansion. there was a thread about it on this board recently.
            I'd go there over Whampoa - I find it a bit pretentious and uptight.
            Yongfoo elite is another I'd take over Whampoa, all three are similar in style (both food & decor)

            Jean Georges is a no brainer for a big night out in SH, and Laris is good too. Haven't been to New Heights and hadn't actually considered it before - the fact that you have it in your list makes me want to try it out...

            M is fine, (the Glamour Bar is great by the way), but for food I'd stick with JG and Laris. by the way, JG's decor beats Laris by a mile (Laris, apart from the marble entrance, is characterless)

            1 Reply
            1. re: e_ting

              Thanks for the heads-up on Fu 1088 (it's only 7 months old) - I'm always very excited when there's a new restaurant to discover.

              I'm flying into Shanghai tomorrow to attend a friend's wedding. In fact, I've already booked a table at Fu 1088, and invited the "about-to-wed" couple (both local Shanghainese) plus some relatives for a special dinner treat at Fu 1088 tomorrow evening.

            2. Haven't been to all, but ate at Sens & Bund last year, agree totally with kyleoh's post below - and can add switcheroo on wine to the list of woes (higher-priced wine substituted forthe one ordered and charged at full price).
              Fu 1088 wins hands down in my opinion...see my post below http://www.chowhound.com/topics/502868

              1. Have deliberately stayed away from JG and Laris for fear of them being overhyped. Whampoa Club did not impress. New Heights doesn't look like it would impress me, but the private room in the dome looks like a nice location. Haven't been to M on the Bund for ages, but I would expect quality to be high.

                Loved Le Platane - Justin can take simple dishes and execute them flawlessly. The cote de boeuf and the crackling suckling pig are both excellent...

                1 Reply
                1. re: Peech

                  i peeked into the private room at New Heights when i was there for drinks: pretty romantic and great little place for a super-special, but i can't vouch for the food because i only drank there...

                2. My recommendation is the teppanyaki restaurant on the bund named Moonsha. The atomsphere is very nice. Peoples kind there. Main chefs are from Taiwan, they will cook in front of you. Good dining experience to me and my family.

                  1. The best restaurant I tried during my recent trip to Shanghai is Le Platane at Xintiandi, helmed by Singaporean chef, Justin Quek. I really didn't expect it to be that good (despite having followed Justin's long career in Les Amis, Singapore).

                    Other restaurants I tried were okay - Fu1088 (nice food, but I didn't fancy the individual private room set-up, preferring a grand main dining hall - traditional Shanghainese, interspersed with some modern-Canto "usual suspects" like prawns in wasabi-mayo), South Beauty (try the main outlet near Jingan, it's better. Wished they'd add new dishes though, all their main menu attractions haven't changed for ages!), M on the Bund (always consistently good) and Epicure on 45 (Radisson Hotel - spectacular views, but lame food).

                    If you need to choose only one restaurant in Shanghai - make it M on the Bund!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: klyeoh

                      speaking of justin quek, has anyone been to villa du lac since it 'opened to public' (was a member's club before)?

                      1. re: e_ting

                        Yes, would love to hear from anyone who's tried the food - but it's another one of those private-room-only places.

                        Justin's Singaporean operations manager, Damian Shee, said that Villa du Lac's Yangzhou/Huaiyang cuisine closely approximates the Chaozhou/Chiuchow cuisine which us plebeians from Singapore are more familiar with ... but executed with much more aplomb. Apparently, they have a chef who can slice a cube of soft beancurd into 30 layers horizontally!

                    2. Forget about Sens & Bund as well as Jean Georges, they are greatly overrated, overpriced and always disappointing. In the international category they cant hold a candle to T8, M-on-the-Bund, New Heights, Laris nor to the much more modest and cheaper (but my favorite French) Des Lys (which only charges 100 RMB corkage). Of all the good recommendations I actually miss my favorite, Binjiang One.

                      In judging The Whampoa Club please note that Jeremy Leung is trying to give a modern interpretation of Shanghainese food with all its limitations taste wise. The China House of the Oriental in Bangkok, where he does not have this limitation, has grown to become the best Chinese restaurant of Bangkok. More classic Shanghainese restaurants such as The Old Railway Station or Yongfu Elite have the same limitation but they are both very good. However it will be a while that we will get the standard of Chinese food in Shanghai that you will find in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

                      I saw a comment regarding Thai Food. I tried every single Thai restaurant in Shanghai and the only outstanding one is Thai House, although its back-alley location in an apartment-turned-restaurant might scare off some. It is the only one where you will meet the Thai consul and his staff. Simply Thai has not much to do with Thai Food.

                      On the piece on Xintiandi there was the New Steak House Lawry's missing that took the spot of the old Ma Maison. If you are yearning for a good Ribeye this is the place to go, top Australian Beef (no US, dont be fooled), top service, at a price. For a good steak go otherwise to The Spot where they do serve top US beef in a more bar like environment.

                      I tried most Italians with Leonardo (Hilton) my favorite at the high end and Da Marco my favorite for a simple meal. A place where 5-20 people are queuing 7 days per week from 18.00-21.00 with halve of the guests Italian cant be bad!

                      Another relatively nice new place is the ASC Wine Residence close to the Marriott at Tomorrow's Square. The kitchen is exceptional but they seem to have irregular opening times, check it first. The wine collection is obviously the best in Shanghai.

                      9 Replies
                      1. re: peterbrongers

                        2 different reactions:

                        -- thanks for the Thai House suggestion: every other Thai place i've been here has been terrible (Mai Boon Krung) or highly Westernized to the point of not being Thai food at all (Simply Thai)...so it gives me another reason to seek about Thai House...i shall go there this week.

                        -- but i have to dissent on Des Lys...i only went there once, but the food was literally terrible!...grizzly, rubbery lamb chops, and a goat cheese salad that would have been underwhelming if you'd found it in a cafeteria...i liked the setting, but the food was so bad i can't imagine ever going back...

                        1. re: peterbrongers

                          You're the second person to highly-recommend Thai House! The other person was the operations manager of Le Platane/The Fountain/Villa du Lac in Xintiandi who also felt that it's the only place with really authentic Thai food in town.

                          http://www.thaihouse-sh.th.gs/

                          1. re: peterbrongers

                            Thanks for the Thai House rec!...i tried it for lunch today...great place (and i love the backalley/apt-buidling location)....now that i have a go-to place in SH for authentic Thai food, my quality of life has vastly improved!

                            1. re: Simon

                              Just an update on Thai House - I've not been there myself but recommended my maternal aunt & her husband, both visiting Shanghai from Bangkok there. They dined there last week - don't think they liked the place very much - Aunt said the back-alley location, walking thru air-con exhaust fans & atmosphere probably suits Khao San Rd backpackers more. She said the tom yam goong at Simply Thai (Xintiandi branch) tasted more authentic than Thai House's. Anyway, at both places, they spoke & ordered in Thai to make sure they get authentic food.

                              I guess I have to make a visit myself when I'm in Shanghai next.

                              1. re: klyeoh

                                While I only have experience of 1 thailand trip and thai restaurants in California,
                                I thought Thai House's food was better than the thai restaurants in California,
                                but way below the recommended places in Bangkok.

                                I twice saw consulate flagged Mercedes parked next to garbage collection boxes you have to walk by to get to Thai House , so I think Thai consulate staff eat lunches there .
                                For slightly better decor , you can try Chiang Mai Thai cuisine 52281588.

                                Based on 1 visit to Chiang Mai Thai and 4 visits to Thai House, I rate Thai House taste higher while Chiang Mai Thai serve bigger portions.

                                Although these have the best tasting Thai food I have come across in Shanghai, neither belongs in top restaurants class(decor, service).
                                Simply Thai is higher on these scales.

                                1. re: klyeoh

                                  hi klyeoh...did you make it to Thai House yet?

                                  i've been there several times since i posted and had very good food, though i didn't care for the yam som-oh (pomelo salad) at all...

                                  i also went to their second, newer location off Jianguo Xi Lu in Xuhui...the food was not as good there, w/ some dishes cooked entirely differently...but when i gently suggested that things were't the same ("Phom khitwa...thi ni mai muan-kan krap...?"), the manager told me that they were still getting everyone trained so that the dishes would be consistent...

                                  1. re: Simon

                                    Afraid not - just back last weekend from visiting mum's family in Bangkok & pigging out there - so Shanghai's pseudo-Thai offerings' not exactly top of my agenda right now. Also, not really looking forward to going to Shanghai (or anywhere in China) until the pre-Olympic security clampdown eases.

                                    I wondered if they use Thai pomelos for their yam som-oh in Shanghai. Here in Singapore, some Thai restaurants used Malaysian pomelos (mainly from Ipoh), and they are simply awful.

                                    1. re: klyeoh

                                      my problem w/ the yam som-oh at Thai House wasn't w/ the pomelo itself but more w/ the fact that drizzled the whole thing w/ coconut cream (something i've never encountered in Thailand)...but yeah, if i'd just been in BKK, i wouldn't be rushing to Thai House either...

                                      Not sure where they get their pomelos...but i have noticed that the green papaya in all SH Thai restaurants other than Thai House tastes fundamentally different than it should: it's starchier, more bland, more like a potato (with none of the bright crispness of a proper green papaya)...

                                      True, the security was getting grim, absurd, and counterproductive...because of the way the torch-relay protests were covered on Chinese tv, the French are having an especially hard time...several of my French friends were denied visa renewals and/or questioned by security people, and were forced to leave: which is ridiculous, as most of the French i've met in SH are quite apolitical and are merely enjoying the many cafes and lovely architecture of the former French Concession...the Dalai Lama is the furthest thing from their minds...the ones i know i are much more concerned w/ getting warm baguettes at Paul's, learning Mandarin, and sipping wine at Epicure...

                              2. re: peterbrongers

                                Anyone, and I mean ANYONE, mentioning Des Lys as a restaurant in the same league as or better than JG and/or Sens is totally disqualified from talking about food for the next 66 years.
                                Des Lys is what the old commie system thought a restaurant should be and I am kind, I've had better meals in both Russia and Romania. It's that bad.

                              3. 1221 and Azul Viva have great food at a reasonable price.

                                1. I found all the Bund restaurants a let down. The rooms are all great and they are not that expensive, given the location, but the food really lacks heart in all of them. Laris was the worst last time I was there.

                                  Haiku by Hatsune is an offshoot of a sushi restaurant in Beijing. It's in Shanghai's French concession and it's very well put together. I don't rate the Toro but the rest is all very high quality.

                                  There's also a pretty decent Thai restaurant in the Rui Jin hotel complex. The complex is a compound of buildings, some new some old colonial ones, just off the Rui Jin Road.

                                  The most impressive old building has a bar called Face in it, and above Face is a Thai restaurant called Lan Na Thai.

                                  The food is somewhat westernised, I guess, but it is very well put together, and the atmosphere of the whole place is wonderful - its a real oasis of calm, like pausing for a quick sauna in the middle of watching Bladerunner...

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: mr_creosote

                                    Agree 100% with what you said with regards to the Bund restaurants. I only liked M on the Bund - for their brunch ... how wrong can you go with fried eggs & sausages? And their view of the Bund - the best in town!

                                    Yes, Lan Na Thai in Rui Jin is a beautiful restaurant. The food's so-so, but that's the general standard of Thai food in Shanghai. I'm sooo glad I'm flying back to Bangkok next week (visiting my mum's side of the family) - nothing like great, cheap food in Bangkok.

                                  2. Hi,

                                    I've lived in Shanghai for 1.5 years, Japan for 1 year and grew up in San Francisco, CA. I love food, cooking and eating. Not that makes me any more qualified to answer your question but wanted to give you a background on my responses to your questions.

                                    So, of the above mentioned restaurants, all qualify for your request of ambiance and views. Certainly the best views would be on the Bund or accross the street at one of the hotels in either the World Financial Center or the Jin Mao Tower (Grand Hyatt and Park Hyatt).

                                    Jean George is good, but the food isn't on par with the prices.

                                    New Heights is also quite nice, I prefer it over JG. Food is almost on par with the prices

                                    Whampoa Club I haven't been to so can't comment on that

                                    Laris is great - but recently I went to a lunch there and the dessert was lacking and very dry. Typically I have better experiences. But again, great views, service and ambiance.

                                    M on the Bund - I put in the same category as JG. I feel like if you're going to charge that much for food, it should be on par with Manresa or Gary Danko in CA/Bay Area and it's not so I just can't go back. Doesn't seem worth it.

                                    T8 & Sense & Bund I've never been to.

                                    **New Restaurants - Mr. & Mrs. Bund and Stillers (at Cool Docks at the South Bund)

                                    Apparently Stillers is AMAZING, I'm going this weekend with my husband for our anniversary and will post my experiences there but I've heard from friends that it's the best new restaurant in Shanghai. Mr. & Mrs. Bund is also a newly opened place on the Bund which I haven't been to but check around for other feedback on them.

                                    Cheers!

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: emilyinshanghai

                                      Of the original list, I've only been to the recently-closed Sens and Bund. This restaurant was a bit of a travesty, and aside from their sweet view, was a total disappointment. I guess I won't continue to bash this place since it's now in the grave and I'm not a hater, but I would suggest that anyone coming to Shanghai for a culinary tour delve into restaurants away from the glitz of the Bund. I know the original post inquired about view and atmosphere, but the real Chinese food scene of Shanghai is taking place far away from the banks of the Huangpu and I would urge people to really check out the staples of the city like Di Shui Dong, Charmant, Hengshan Cafe, Dong Bei Ren or People's Seven. I know these places don't come attached with lusty designer names like Jean Georges or Laris, but they are great eateries where real people eat at reasonable prices.

                                      1. re: dannyrogue

                                        "Di Shui Dong, Charmant, Hengshan Cafe, Dong Bei Ren or People's Seven. but they are great eateries where real people eat at reasonable prices."

                                        Charmant, Hengshan Cafe serve Cantonese cuisine but I won't call them great at that.
                                        Most places in HK serve better food, and a few have equal decor with much better service.

                                        Dong Bei Ren is ok for Shanghai, but quite a few dumpling places in Beijing(serving North Eastern cuisine) have better food.

                                        Being unfamiliar with HuNan cuisine, i do like Di Shui Dong an GuYi -
                                        going by Sichuan cuisine experience in ChengDu, the sichuan places in Shanghai don't come close.,

                                        1. re: dannyrogue

                                          Agree totally, Sens and Bund was one of the worst restaurants we've been to in the past 10 yrs. I am not surprised it's finished. Hengshan Cafe is indeed worth a visit, their turbot with duojiao (pickled red chilis) and roast goose are spectacular. Also like Di Shui Dong a lot.