Din Tai Fung, one of the finest restaurants in the city, has perfected the xiaolongbao (soup dumpling), the great ambassador of Shanghainese cuisine. Its version has paper-thin dough surrounding a juicy, meaty filling.
We loved: Pork xiaolongbao; Taiwanese beef noodles.
Shanghai native Franck Pecol’s bistro gets everything right, most importantly the market menu that puts a subtle spin on bistro favorites. There’s a mostly European crowd and a small patio and sunroom for weekend brunches.
We loved: Beef tartare; roast chicken.
Chef Tony Lu teases out the best flavors in Shanghainese cooking, while reducing the amount of oil and sugar. He has accomplished no small feat—the food at Fu is the best fine Shanghainese dining in town. The restaurant is assuredly old-school, with its pewter candelabras, private rooms and butler service in a colonial-era Spanish mansion.
We loved: Shun yu, steamed fish with rice wine and ham.
The views of the Bund are excellent, as are the wine list and tasting menus—a collection of the best dishes from Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s expanding food empire, like seared loin of lamb topped with cardamom crumbs.
We loved: Foie gras brûlée with candied pistachios and sour cherries; black truffle-and-Fontina cheese pizza.
Shanghainese cuisine is an illusory thing—this young city has largely borrowed recipes from its more mature neighbors. But there are a few standout Shanghainese dishes, all prepared exceptionally well in this cozy 15-table spot that hasn’t changed much over the years.
We loved: Hong shao rou (braised pork belly with cuttlefish); xienfen dofu (crabmeat and roe with tofu).
This elegant 10-year-old restaurant offers superb views of the waterfront boulevard—especially from its riverfront terrace. Its menu, by chef Hamish Pollitt, combines contemporary European cuisine with Middle Eastern and North African accents. Erudite manager Marcus Ford is responsible for Shanghai’s best wine list, with a focus on boutique labels from Australia and New Zealand.
We loved: Lamb baked in salt crust; suckling pig.
California chef Brad Turley opened three restaurants in Shanghai before hitting his stride with this Nuevo Mexicano spot. Maya serves terrific renditions of Mexican classics alongside playful ceviches. Dishes like tuna with jicama, sesame leaves and xiao tsing (rice wine) reveal Turley’s Pacific Rim training and Mexi-Cali roots.
We loved: Beef-tongue tacos; blackened Argentinean-style steak; chicken-and-chorizo stew.
Because this stellar sushi spot is owned by a large fish importer, there’s no middleman, and the savings are passed on to diners (a toro-and-king-crab tasting menu is only about $35). The buttery, silky toro (fatty tuna) sashimi and nigiri sushi are amazing.
We loved: O-toro (fatty tuna belly) and chu-toro (“middle” tuna, indicating its fattiness is between toro and red tuna) sashimi; toro shabu-shabu (hot pot).
This closet-sized yakitori joint isn’t for everyone—it’s small, it’s smoky, and the only seating options are five tables with what seem like kindergarten-sized stools. But insiders love it for the terrific char-grilled chicken cooked on a single, narrow grill, including crispy chicken skin on bamboo skewers.
We loved: Chicken yakitori; green peppers stuffed with minced pork.