Shanghai preview


Shanghai is a large sprawl of a city and there is no shortage of restaurants to suit every budget and taste. The Chinese take their wining and dining very seriously and this is confirmed by the presence of at least one, often more restaurants, on almost every block. No single area of the city can be said to have a monopoly on high-class restaurants or authentic Chinese cuisine, but there are a few areas which can be good starting points for new arrivals who want to be eased into their new Chinese lifestyle by sampling all sorts of cuisines from classy, boutique restaurants.

Shanghai might be mainland China's best city for eating. These days, indulging in Shanghai's culinary delights has become a must on any expat’s itinerary during his stay in the city. Shanghai is really a gourmet's paradise, virtually on par with Hong Kong. You will find any food imaginable in Shanghai, whether it’s an asado from Argentina, wiener schnitzel from a Viennese restaurant, a Korean hot pot, delicate French food, spicy Cuban offerings, or a thick American steak.

Xintiandi is always a good place to start. Xintiandi is Shanghai's trendy new food and beverage quarter where you can find restaurants serving cuisine that includes Chinese, Thai, Spanish, American, French, Indian and German cuisines. On and around Hengshan Road, in the heart of the beautiful French Concession, you can find restaurants like Indian Kitchen, Vedas, Hengshan Café, Sasha's and Le Garcon Chinois.

Expats will find the widest variety of dining options is in the Luwan (French Concession), Jing An, Gubei, and Xuhui districts. Of course, you will find some of the city’s best restaurants on the Bund. The Pudong New Area is adding great restaurants at a dizzying pace, especially in the Jinqiao area and near Thumb Plaza. See the restaurant guides below for specific cuisines or restaurants in your favorite areas.

General Hours of Operation

Virtually all restaurants in Shanghai will be open for the following lunch and dinner periods:

  • Lunch: 11:30am to 2pm
  • Dinner: 5:30am to 10pm

However, a large number of restaurants will be open for lunch from 11am until 2:30pm, and will be open for dinner from 5pm until 11pm. A small number of family restaurants will be open from 10am until midnight. There are also a few restaurants opened until very late or even 24 hours.


Generally speaking, if you have a party of four persons, then reservations will be taken and they are recommended for dinner. Many restaurants will not take reservations for parties of 2-3, but as a foreigner, you might be able to convince them to hold a table for you at a certain time.

Overbooking in restaurants is normal, so you might have to wait for 20-30 minutes, even if you have a reservation. Most restaurants will provide chairs for waiting.

Brief Introduction to Chinese Cuisine

The above title is misleading as talking about Chinese cuisine is as impossible as talking about European or American cuisine. It can work as a reference tag, but it has no real meaning. Inevitably, because of the large size of the country and the presence of many ethnic groups, every province has developed its own culinary tradition. And the Chinese emigrants have also modified, and influenced, the cuisine brought from their motherlands.

Cantonese food is the most well-known in western countries, since the first Chinese emigrants came from Guangdong. It´s supp…