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Nov 8, 2010 09:39 AM

Shanghai - Five Days. Last-minute food itinerary. Help!!

Hi all,

I was hoping to get some feedback and suggestions for a 5 day trip to shanghai. We are visiting from San Francisco, California. We eat a lot of chinese food here, and are hoping to find meals in Shanghai that give us a taste of what we are missing here in the US.

We've never been to china or hong kong, but have been to many of the top spots in tokyo and paris, so aren't particularly interested in japanese or french food, unless it really holds up well against international competition.

I know several of these are branches of big hong kong restaurant chains, but i haven't spent much time in hong kong, so i'm inclined to be okay with that. price isn't much of an issue. I'm most interested in trying interesting chinese seafood dishes.

Any suggestions of what to order at these places would be very helpful as well. My girlfriend / travel partner is fluent in mandarin and cantonese, but doesn't read chinese well. We wonder if that will be a problem? We also wonder how important reservations are for most of these places? We leave in one week.

(day 1)
din tai fung (breakfast)
guyi hunan (lunch)
xin guan crab restaurant (dinner)

(day 2)
jia jia tang bao (breakfast)
southern barbarian (lunch)
xinjiapo taigo cun yuchi (dinner)

(day 3)
din tai fung (breakfast)
fook lam moon (lunch)
xin jishi (dinner)

(day 4)
jia jia tang bao (breakfast)
lei garden (lunch)
shanghai uncle (dinner)

(day 5)
?not sure? (breakfast)
?not sure? (lunch)
?not sure? (dinner)

Any comments or suggestions would be very much appreciated!!


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  1. Hey,
    I tend to know western food better in Shanghai so can't help too much with most of these. I think a couple meals at some of the hot fine dining places could be in order too. Great value and there's some fun stuff going on.

    Personally I really like Stiller's. He uses as much local ingredients as he can and cooks seasonally. I've been blown away there in the past... but he does change his menu often to reflect what he's finding out and about.

    Also for a bit of fun check out Mr and Mrs Bund. It's just a really fun eating experience and the food is pretty good too.

    I normally stear clear of Shanghainese food as it's a bit too sweet for my tastes (much prefer Cantonese style Chinese in it's simplicity and respect of the natural ingredient).

    Will be moving there at the start of new year though so I guess I better get used to it :D

    1 Reply
    1. re: pcypert

      I second Stiller's and Mr. and Mrs Bund. For details and pics:

      I also think Table No. 1 is a fun place to eat at. Chic vibe in the broken tile sort of way, and interesting food:

    2. I actually just posted a quick breakdown of a weeks tripping eating Shanghai in a new thread.

      However, you are right to avoid European food. It is a mess there. Some of your suggestions (Lei Garden) weren't of any interest to me as I live in HK (orig from London) and can have that here. However, I was very impressed at Shanghainese food. Unfortunately as I was visiting locals I only jotted down some of the places (here but overall the quality was great and ridiculously cheap for a European.

      I would factor in more street food as that was the real revelation for me. Outstanding.

      Finally - hairy crab is in season so it is worth searching out where the best place in Shanghai is to get that as that will be a once in a lifetime experience.


      3 Replies
      1. re: TomEatsHK

        Great, thanks Tom.

        Any suggestions on what to look for in street / convenience food in addition to Jian Bing, and Lamb Skewers?

        The Kung Pao Chicken Noodles and Stretched Noodles on your blog look great!

        I'm not risking any food poisoning eating street food, correct? (I had a very bad experience after eating some of the best tacos of my life on the street in mexico.)


        1. re: Dustin_E

          I didn't mention skewers or "sticks" but you are right, I should have. After a certain time at night street corners are colonised by vendors where you pick sticks (i.e. kebabed meat and veg) and they cook to order. Fantastic. I had one of the best needlefish I've ever had from one of them.

          Alway of the shanghainese classics - xlb, mantau, the fried xlb are easily available. It is as simple as going to a busy stall and pointing.

          The (Western) friends I was visiting who are now Shanghainese localised have had no problems in 2 years with food poisoning and in 8 days I didn't. Having travelled South America and had similar experiences I have never had any problems eating around Asia - with some basic precautions (pick busy places)!

          Shanghai has pretty much everything China offers so you can get everything which is excellent.

          PS I would accord with 4 Seasons and say Ji Shi (or Jesse) is excellent!

          Jade Garden is available in HK and is of a very high quality. Both Lei and Jade do good roast goose.

          1. re: TomEatsHK

            Thanks Tom,

            I'll add needlefish from a street vendor to my list of must-tries. That sounds awesome!

            That's good to know about the street food. I've had no problems with street food in Thailand, so i should be fine.

            Glad to hear you approve of Ji Shi, Jade and Lei. I'll probably try the goose at Lei Garden, as i don't know when i'll be in hong kong next (nor what else to order there...)


      2. I have not been back to Shanghai for the last 3 years. But Xin Guan and Guyi used to be my favorites there. So hopefully the standard is still good. Just beware Xin Guan is a crab feast restaurant, and very expensive (used to be RMB700 pp), so unless you love crabs, you may want to avoid here. Most of the patrons here were oversea Chinese and Japanese back then. I hardly saw a Westerner so not too sure if it is your type of place.

        Some of my other favorites that you may want to consider, though I have not been back, judging from the food websites, they are still getting rave reviews.
        -原创私房菜 Sophia's Restaurant-very cozy homey type of Shanghainese restaurant. I love the rose shrimp 玫瑰水晶虾仁 and chicken 别有天功夫鸡.
        -苏浙汇Jade Garden - it is like the Lei Garden of Shanghai food. It is a chain of upper mid end Shanghai restaurants. I love the smoked duck 樟茶鸭 and a type of fish (forgot the English name, lots of bones, unfortunately, the wild ones are close to extinct so we can only eat farmed ones) 清蒸鲥鱼.
        -You may want to try JiShi, many here love this place, it is more of a traditional Shanghainese, most well know for its pork 外婆红烧肉.
        _ I have never tried these two places but they are quite well known: Fu1088 and 凌泷阁 (don't know the English name but it is a high end Shanghai restaurant, famnous for crab and shark fin).

        21 Replies
        1. re: FourSeasons

          Hi FourSeasons,

          thanks a lot -- it was actually a lot of your previous chowhound posts i used to put together this preliminary list.

          Xin Guan definitely sounds like my kind of place. Two of my favorite dining experiences have been Tsukiji Yamamoto in Tokyo (blowfish over 12 courses) and Arpege in Paris (vegetables over 6 or so courses) - The Crab feast sounds a bit like a similar approach to a different ingredient.

          I've never had Roast Goose before, but heard it mentioned on these boards. Would Lei Garden, Yi Long Court or Fook Lam Moon be a decent place to get it?

          Also, do you know of any unique dishes i would need to order ahead at any of these places? I've heard of (but never tried) "Buddha Jumps." Any suggestions along these lines?

          Thanks Again,


          1. re: Dustin_E

            Just beware that while Yamamoto and Arpege are high end places with great ambiance, the interior of Xin Guan was really typical traditional Mainland Chinese look, nothing fancy. I have not been back for 4 years so not too sure if it has been renovated. Peech has written a review so you may want to take a look first:

            I have never tried Roast Goose in Shanghai. It is a much better known dish in Hong Kong. If you do travel to HKG, save this dish for that destination.

            Lei Garden and Fook Lam Moon are very well known Cantonese restaurants from Hong Kong. I have not tried both places in Shanghai.

            Please note the difference between Xin Jishi and Jishi. The one I recommended is JiShi but the one you wrote for Day 1 was Xin JiShi, which is a chain of mid end Shanghainese restaurants.

            You may want to consider Fu1088. It is getting rave review, good ambiance and very popular with the expatriate community. I think Peech wrote a review there too so you may want to search on his blog.

          2. re: FourSeasons

            Thanks for your suggestions. I'm thinking of making this my itinerary now:

            day 0
            guyi hunan (at 2am) - braised fish head; prawns in hot pot with chilli; frog hotpot; singapore-style pork rib tea soup (肉骨茶); deep-fried eel with chilis; yang chunmian (green noodles)

            day 1
            xin ji shi - pork 外婆红烧肉; wild herbs wrapped in tofu (malantou); fish smothered in scallions

            xin guan - crab feast

            day 2
            southern barbarian - bbq'd pork ribs, potato pancake, fried salt; and pepper goats cheese, mint salad, cold grilled eggplant with tomato. mushroom dishes good.

            jade garden - reeve's shad; 清蒸鲥鱼; smoked duck 樟茶鸭

            day 3
            yi long court (in the peninsula) - [not sure]

            fook lam moon - shark's fin soup, roasted suckling pig, deep fried crispy chicken, fried rice inside lotus leaf

            day 4
            Sophia's - rose petal prawn; tea-smoked duck

            凌泷阁 - crab and shark fin dishes

            day 5
            lei garden - [not sure]

            With breakfasts spent on jia jia tang bao and yang's fry dumplings, and various streets foods, and perhaps a late-night snack or two back at guyi (didn't realize it was open until 4am. wow!) Din Tai Fung doesn't look like it is open for breakfast, and i'm not sure i want to invest a lunch there.

            Any more suggestions or comments on ordering various dishes at these places would be much appreciated. Thanks Again!

            1. re: Dustin_E

              I'm also from SF and was just in Shanghai a few weeks ago for six days. However three of those days were spent at Expo, so we didn't get that much dining done.

              Really have to recommend Yang's Fry Dumpling!! They were super delicious and worth the long (and confusing) wait! Remember to first order in the left-hand line, then wait in the right-hand line to pick them up -- we automatically stood in the longer (right-hand) line and became all confused when we reached the front and didn't pay yet. Also have someone from your group get a table while you're waiting if it's extremely crowded, and don't be afraid to be a little aggressive. We also ordered a couple of their soups, and while decent, it's the dumplings that are a do-not-miss.

              For hairy crab, a friend (who now lives/works in Shanghai but used to work with me in the SF area) asked everyone at her office and the consensus (if price was no issue) was Cheng Long Hang Xie Wang Fu (called just "Xie Wang Fu" for short), which is really close to the Nanjing Road subway stop. Their crab is crazy expensive -- we paid about $50 USD *per crab* for a crustacean the size of my (womanly) hands -- but supposedly they're the best in Shanghai and all from that famous lake. They also serve other Shanghaiese specialties -- I'll post a full review later -- but I *highly* recommend their "crab in wine sauce", which at 58 RMB each, are an absolute bargain compared to their other crab which was 388 RMB each (can get more/less expensive ones depending on size)!! Of the expensive crab, we each tried a female and a male -- while the female had lots of tasty roe, we all preferred the male for its sweeter meat. BTW we had tasty hairy crab the very next day at a simple canalside restaurant in super-touristy Zhujiajang for only 38 RMB each (you can buy them live on the street for 10 RMB but you need to cook them yourself) -- let's just say that the Xie Wang Fu crabs were about 2x as good, but they were 10x as expensive, so I'm really not sold on getting expensive crabs crabs unless you're a true and absolute crab fiend. I suspect crab feast type places probably have the less expensive crab, so if you do want a crab feast, go to a less expensive one -- my last trip to Shanghai was 11 years ago and we had a hairy crab feast, and since it was part of a Chinese-American tour group, I'm sure they didn't pay 700 RMB/person :)

              We also went to a well-known Shanghaiese restaurant in the Super Brand Mall in Puding -- I don't know the name since my friend took us. For Shanghaiese food in general I really enjoyed the raw or very lightly cooked seafood (river shrimp, crab, etc.) marinated in rice wine, meats in aspic, and rice-stuffed lotus dishes which I don't think I've really seen here in SF. Of things I've tried before, the red braised meat was also more delicate than SF renditions. I'm also now totally enamored of the brownish sweet rice wine (which I took with a dried plum or two in my wine glass) which went so well with the light, sweet flavors of the food. So perhaps at the places you visit, you can try some of those dishes since they're very typical Shanghai dishes.

              I feel the thing to avoid in Shanghai is actually non-Shanghaiese food in case they modify the flavor a bit to suit the Shanghaiese palate. We went to a branch of South Beauty (an upscale Sichuanese restaurant), and the dishes there tasted slightly sweeter than the Sichuan places in Beijing which we visited just before. My friend who is originally from Sichuan herself verified this, and vouched that Beijing Sichuan restaurants (or others where the cuisine is more strongly-flavored or heartier) were better than those in Shanghai.

              Have a great trip!

              1. re: PekoePeony

                Thanks PekoePeony!

                I definitely won't miss Yang's fry dumplings. I'll be sure to stand in the left line!

                I love crab roe -- especially mixed with some noodles. I'll be sure to try both male and female while i'm there. I had a crab in wine sauce at ppq last friday - it seems a lot lighter than the other crab preparations i've had. i'll be sure to try that too in shanghai.

                i had no idea you could get crab on the street. That's great to know. I wonder if my girlfriend (who is fluent in mandarin+cantonese) could bribe a street vendor to cook it up for us for breakfast. :-)

                thanks for the list of dishes to try that i probably won't be able to find here at home.

                is brownish sweet rice wine at all like unfiltered sake? regardless, i'll try some while i'm there.

                that's good advice to avoid non-Shanghai food a bit. I think i'll probably replace my Fook Lam Moon meal with Fu 1088 then.

                I saw on another post you were looking for restaurants near the summer palace in beijing. Did you find any? I'm staying at a hotel near the summer palace for one night, but heard the food isn't good, and was hoping to find some other suggestions.

                Also, have you tried any beijing imperial cuisine restaurants? i'm certainly willing to pay the price of a top meal in sf for an interesting dining experience in beijing if it is something unique, but i don't want to waste my time if it is a tourist trap. i've heard very mixed things. Some perspective from someone familiar with what we have in the bay area would be helpful. As an aside, i really have enjoyed a couple meals at jai yun in sf, even though i feel it is quite over priced, and i'm not in a hurry to return. i suspect this is the closest i've had to what an "imperial cuisine" dinner is.

                Thanks a lot!

                1. re: Dustin_E

                  The "crab in wine sauce" is really just a raw hairy crab marinated in reduced sweet rice wine, but boy was it tasty! I'll attach a photo of 1/2 of one (I ate the other before I remember to take a photo). Only tried the roast crab at PPQ -- how did you like the wine sauce one there? The hairy crab on the street was more in Zhujiajiao, but in Shanghai you can buy it at the big Chinese grocery stores in season.

                  The brownish sweet rice wine is definitely sweeter than unfiltered sake (which I also like). Also like wine, I liked some sweet rice wine more than others (for some reason I don't think I've found a sake I didn't like), but it's worth trying. The flavor is kind of like a tarter, less sweet, non-grapey version of sacramental wine.

                  Sadly my hubby wanted to watch the Giants playoffs so we didn't have lunch near the Summer Palace. Didn't try any imperial cuisine restaurants in BJ either, for the reason you mentioned -- was too worried about their being tourist traps. Did have a tasty mult-course meal at Dian Ke Dian Lai which was different (don't t hink I know of any Yunnanese restaurants in SF) and really worth the money so I suggest you try it out -- but look at a map first (and carry the map with you to show the taxi driver) to make sure you know where it is since the taxi definitely won't!

                  I'll try to post a write-up of our Beijing eats this week, lots of good food there!

                  1. re: PekoePeony

                    we liked the wine sauce a lot -- we are in no way crab experts, but it was a lot lighter than the fried crab at r&g, and the garlic crab at thanh long. There seemed to be less roe in this one, though, which was disappointing. you list koi palace as one of your favorites. have you had the whole crab with dumplings there? if so, would you recommend it?



                2. re: PekoePeony

                  Here's a guide to Yang's fried dumplings to make the ordering process easier:

                3. re: Dustin_E

                  I suggest you choose either Xin Guan or Ling Long Ge 凌泷阁 since both are well known for crab feast. That is unless you are a crab lover and would not mind to try both to find out which is the best crab feast restaurant in town. I just found 2 English-language websites with introduction to Ling Long Ge:



                  1. re: FourSeasons

                    Excellent. Yes, I think i'll try one the first night, and the other our 4th night. I like crab, and do not at all mind a not-fancy decor.

                    This is the restaurant you mentioned in an earlier post, correct? Did you say they are known for various shark fin preparations, or should i stick to the crab?

                    1. re: Dustin_E

                      Dustin: I hope you did read my above post (I suspect you have missed it), especially on the point on the difference between Xin Jishi and Jishi (some called it Jesse).

                      Yes, Ling Long Ge = 凌泷阁. The shark fin that they are famous for is the one with crab roe.

                      1. re: FourSeasons

                        Yes, I definitely saw and noted the difference between Xin Jishi and Jishi. Thank You!!!

                        Great, I had already made reservations for Ling Long Ge. I'll try the shark fin with crab roe. that dish sounds fantastic.

                          1. re: Dustin_E

                            Maybe my report will give you some ideas on the various dishes at Fu 1088 and Jesse; I would leave Lei Garden for HK--too many great Shanghai spots to sample...


                            1. re: erica

                              thanks erica -- i'll print your lists of dishes from jesse and fu 1088 and take them with me to the restaurant.

                              1. re: Dustin_E

                                I'd echo erica's Fu 1088 suggestion. It's hard to go wrong with any of the dishes there, but I'd definitely highlight their tea eggs, smoked fish, and any of their soups (the hot & sour was surprisingly good).

                                PekoePeony's disappointment with South Beauty isn't unusual. Their CEO is gunning to make their brand the "LV of Chinese food". Blech! In my opinion, Yuxin is about as good of Sichuan food as your going to get (although you might try to stop them localizing a lot of dishes with a hefty addition of scallions).

                                There's a Yang's right across the street from the Jia Jia on Huanghe Lu - 黄河路. My suggestion would be to have two people wait in each line (Yang's will be faster). So little time, so much to try!

                                1. re: christoufa

                                  I had a handful of meals in Shanghai about 4-5 weeks ago and one I found particularly enjoyable was our brunch at Jean Georges. I completely understand coming from SF you can get western food there so you want to only eat Chinese food but I honestly thought it was a place I would go back to. Reasons being:

                                  - The brunch platter I thought was really good (especially the french toast brioche)
                                  - It was RMB 188 (a US$28) for brunch (really quite cheap for brunch at Jean Georges). The regular lunch menu was also RMB 188 (which also included an appetizer, main and dessert)
                                  - Place was very comfortable and nice

                                  Service needed a bit more work since the waiters there were not trained up to par yet. As much as I like Chinese food I thought it was nice to mix in a meal like this. No long lines and no cramped seating areas to deal with.

                                  Here are some photos I took that day at Jean Georges:

                                  1. re: big_apple_ken

                                    My wife and I had the 3 course lunch special there at the end of October after I saw your earlier post and thought it was absolutely outstanding. A huge bargain, too. My 3 courses were foie gras brule, steamed cod, and banana manjari chocolate clafoutis. That lunch and the dumplings from Yang's were my favorite eating experiences on the mainland (our first trip, so we sacrificed food for sightseeing and free happy hours). Pix of that day's menu.

                                    1. re: beantowntitletown

                                      Totally right? I eat a good amount of Western food in HK (I'm Chinese born and raised in HK btw) and I found JG's brunch menu in Shanghai to be a great deal. If JG was in Hong Kong I probably would have to pay RMB $188 just for the main and not a 3 course pre-fixe menu. Glad you liked it as much as I did...

                                      1. re: big_apple_ken

                                        We're in HK Central right now (finally doing some eating), and I saw your post on Fook Lam Moon on openrice. Thinking about doing Sun Tong Lok for dim sum today, then maybe Fook Lam Moon tomorrow. Went to Maxim's Palace yesterday mostly for convenience. It was good, not mind blowing. We got there late, so some stuff not available, plus they were prepping for a huge wedding reception as we were leaving.

                                    2. re: big_apple_ken

                                      Beautiful pics at Jean-George :-)
                                      Glad to note they'd done away with the annoying large bowls which they used for serving ALL the entrees a while back.

                  2. Hi Dustin,
                    I'm a Shanghai local, so for what it's worth here, on top of your already fabulous food itinerary, here are a couple of suggestions -

                    For hairy crab, I have a new secret location, recommended by Chinese friends. It seats ony 15 people at a time, on the ground floor of an old lane house. It feels like you're in someone's living room, circa 1975, and the prices probably haven't changed much since then. It will cost you about $US20/head for crab, whole fish, bull frog and beer. If you like flashy places, avoid it altogether! Reservations are absolutely essential, often booked out weeks ahead. Last time I went I was lucky enough to have called right after a cancellation, so you can get lucky. No English spoken.
                    Yong Xing Restaurant No 1, 626 Fuxing Zhong Lu, in French Concession Ph +86 21 64733780

                    Southern Barbarian now has 2 locations, Pudong(new) and Puxi (old). If you can, try out the new one because the owner is now spending all his time there and the ambience/cleanliness and presentation is way better than on the old maoming Lu location. Don't miss trying the deep-fried honeybees (photo below) and the pork with Yunnan 'sauerkraut', and the spiced barbecued whole fish. Sweet, delicate flesh contrasting with a delicious spiced crispy skin.

                    Street food on Sipailou Lu - down behind the Town Gods Temple near Yu Gardens. Great variety, including liang pi (cold noodles with chili sesame sauce), seafood, snacks and sweets.

                    Ah Niang Noodles (photo below) - a Shanghai institution, their specialty is the Yellow Fish Noodles. They have been open continuously since pre-1949, one of the few restaurants in Shanghai to be able to make this claim! Every time I eat there (usually as the sole foreigner) there are tables of expat Chinese who make it their first stop on a trip home. 18 Sinan Lu, near Nanchang Lu. Open 7 days for breakfast, lunch and dinner (early, Chinese hours dinner).

                    Have a wonderful trip!

                    Cheers, Fiona

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: shanghaifoodaddict

                      Fiona, I wanted to write you a proper thank you message via email via blogspot, but am still currently in SHA w/o VPN, hence unable to extract your email.

                      Thank you for the Sipailou Lu mention. Without that street, and the neighboringGuangqi Rd, I would've considered my 3 day SHA stay (despite a meal at New JiShi, despite drinks with towering views at both the Ritz & Grand Hyatt) mostly a bust.

                      Having last visited SHA in '02, and remembering the most about my street side meal with conch & US$.30 beer, the proliferation of Pizza Hut, KFC, 85degC, DTF, Ajisen, ad nausea, brought major distress. Everywhere, including Shenzhen, I've traveled in the last 3 weeks in Asia proffered easily found street markets & street stalls. Not so Shanghai. With the advent of this monstrosity called Expo, it seemed major bits of SHA died.

                      We walked by hof enroute to Ah Niang, and it looked darling. Also, I believe Ah Niang's official address is Si Nan Lu 36. Si Nan Lu 18 doesn't exist, or is now part of Long Tang restaurant. It's address via Google Place is also incorrectly listed as Si Nan Lu 19.

                      Again, thanks (though I really don't "get" Ah Niang's yellow fish noodles).

                      1. re: TonyC

                        I would second Sipailou Lu being a great suggestion -- I think Yu Gardens + Sipailou Lu is a great stop for anyone visiting shanghai.

                      2. re: shanghaifoodaddict

                        Southern Barbarian's second location in Pudong closed last month due to landlord issues, unfortunately.

                      3. I was just in Shanghai past weekend - there is one place on XiangYang South (a tea place) that my friends normally take the foreign visitors. It's a bit like my humble house in SG - but most of the food ate fused with different tea flavors.

                        Another place I'd recommend for hanging out at night is the Tai Kang Rd Area 泰康路田子坊 near Da Pu Qiao station on #9 train. The area is filled with expats.. There's a Zhang ShengJi (张生记)nearby for Hangzhou Style food.

                        What I'd always get in Shanghai is the Suzhou style noodles for breakfirst w/ Eel or marinated fish. There are different references for the shops - I used hit Cang Lang Ting 沧浪亭 on Huai Hai Rd for the hard slim noodles but it is noted that it's not open anymore. :-(