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May 30, 2009 09:00 AM

Help - I need Shanghai recs (anyone try MoCA?)

Hola Hounds!

Im off to Shanghai after Beijing. Wanted to ask for recommendations for a nice lunch and a dinner. My party is staying 3 nights. Our first night dinner will be in FU 1088. Need help with 2nd day lunch (mayhaps in the Pudong area, near the Pearl Tower) and dinner (my friend was suggesting the rooftop restaurant of the Museum of Contemporary Art - hear anything about that?) Id love recs. Doesn't have to be Chinese food. Cool, contemporary (and delicious) seems like a plan. Thanks in advance!

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    1. Please let us know how Fu 1088 went. I love that place.

      1. The restaurant at the MoCA is a bit of a dud, IMO. I had one of the set lunches there. If you're from somewhere in the US or Europe and used to eating well made food of this sort, MoCA probably won't be all that exciting. I've *heard* that Barbarossa (also in People's Square) is much better for food if you want something non-Chinese. The drinks I had there were certainly excellent -- far better than you'd find almost anywhere else in Shanghai... or Beijing for that matter. The space is not extremely sleek, but it's sort of hippish... There's nice outdoor seating and a DJ in the evening.

        Dinner Recs:

        The restaurant I remember most fondly for food was probably Guyi Hunan. Despite the fact that FourSeasons scolded me for not trying the famous braised fish head, the 10+ plate meal I did have was good to excellent across the board. Atm isn't really hip, but it's contemporary and won't hurt your eyes to look at.

        South Beauty, which some 'hounds don't appear to like, I think because of the steep prices, was great, IMO. I loved the spicy mutton ribs and radish pastries. We ordered a whole fish, which was well cooked and very fresh. I don't remember all the dishes we ordered at this point, but the food was, as at Guyi, good to excellent across the board and the digs were extremely beautiful. (We sat in the garden.) It's probably the most attractive restaurant I visited during my time in Shanghai, though the style is more elegant and Italian villa-esque than contemporary.

        I loved the atmosphere at Sophia's, which FourSeasons brought up on one of his linked threads. It's an oasis of calm and elegance and I really enjoyed my meal there though food at a few other Shanghai restaurants were more to my taste. Again, the feel of the place is probably more old school and genteel than cool and contemporary, however.

        There was a pretty good pizza place we went to that also functioned as a lounge with excellent drinks. I think the name was Velvet Lounge. Friends who live in Shanghai (who happen to be natives of NYC) claim that the place serves the best pizza in town. Atm. is more contemporary. It looks like a lot of modern lounges in NYC.

        For lunch, would you be willing to try a few inexpensive / street food-esque places? I loved Jia Jia Tang Bao, which has a few locations in the city. It's not at all upscale, but the tang bao were fantastic. (Xiao Yang has a well-read thread on this board listing and ranking other popular dumpling places in the city.) You would be doing yourself a great disservice, I think, if you didn't sample some of the city's great street eats!

        3 Replies
        1. re: cimui

          p.s. When you arrive, try to find a copy of "Yeah Shanghai", an English language magazine. It's free, I think distributed mostly in restaurants in the former French Concession, and is basically like Shanghai's version of "Time Out". There are great events listings, restaurant reviews of newly opened / high buzz places, and a lengthy list of better known restaurants listed by type of cuisine and often other random food-related articles (i.e. discussing interesting street food finds, snack street closings, etc...). Like "Time Out", "Yeah Shanghai" restaurant reviews aren't always reliable IMO, but you can at least use it as a starting point for scoping out places that might be of interest, especially to expats and Western travelers.

          [In the interests of full disclosure: I do know one of the editors of the magazine, but not well enough to let that color my judgment, I don't think.]

          1. re: cimui

            Yeah Shanghai primarily features Expat Traps.

            1. re: Xiao Yang

              I agree, of course, that the magazine is very much geared towards Western tastes. It is in English, after all.

              But these Expat Traps are also more likely to be sleek and chic and contemporary than places that are strictly local -- which kind of sounds like what the OP might be looking for. Also, I think the category of Expat Traps would probably have to include a lot of places like Guyi, South Beauty, Ji Shi and Velvet Lounge (all listed in Y.S.), which have good/excellent food. There were a lot of expats at each place when I went!

        2. Kathleen 5 is the restaurant atop MOCA. It is cool & contemporary, with killer views :-)

          5 Replies
          1. re: klyeoh

            I really enjoyed 100 Century Avenue at the Park Hyatt. Not at all hotel like - Great vibe and the food was extremely good. Then of course there is also the view!

            1. re: klyeoh

              i think kathleen 5 is in the shanghai art museum and the art lab cafe is in the MoCA (museum of contemporary art). the museums are right next to each other so it's easy to get confused! (for the record, the S.A.M. is a *much* better museum than the MoCA...) i haven't been to kathleen 5, but the art lab cafe is not so hot, foodwise.

              1. re: cimui

                I agree with cimui -- MOCA's restaurant is a dud. Very tired, amateur renditions of fusion food. Barbarossa has had a poor reputation in the last couple of years, but they've just had a switch of management and chef, so maybe that'll put the wind back in their sails. Maybe not. Regardless, it's a lovely place for a drink, on a pond in the middle of People's Park.

                Minor point, but I think you're thinking of "That's Shanghai" not "Yeah Shanghai".

                1. re: cimui

                  LOL, you're right, cimui - Kathleen 5 is at SAM. I remembered quite enjoying their Moroccan tagine there the last time. Sorry for the poor quality pics - I took them with my Blackberry & still couldn't get a handle on its camera settings.

                  1. re: klyeoh

                    Another option for Pudong lunch is the Kitchen Salvatore. An Italian resto that is on the river with great views. It is indeed sleek and contemporary. They have one of the few wood burning pizza ovens in the city.

              2. agreed with everyone that MoCA is totally to be avoided. If it doesn't have to be Chinese food and price isn't an issue, I would highly recommend hitting up Jade on 36, one of the better meals I've had, not just in Shanghai. For lunch, you can head to the Super Brand Mall, lots of dining options, including a Din Tai Fung (if you like that sort of thing).

                Also consider a late night stop in one of the Enoteca branches, great place to chill out with a bottle of wine.