In the eight years since I last visited Shanghai, the restaurant scene in Shanghai changed a lot…for the better. There are many more restaurants that specialise in regional Chinese cuisines, many more cafes and bakeries. I also don’t remember seeing that many Halal restaurants on my last trip. Here are some of my favourite restaurants on this trip.

Wasabi Japanese Restaurant (芥末日本料理) at Pullman Shanghai Skyway

Where do you go for dinner in Shanghai (or any city really) when most restaurants are closed for New Year holidays? A restaurant at a hotel! Hotels and the restaurants inside have to open everyday for hotel guests so that’s where we went.

My sister-in-law assured me it’s all-you-can-eat and the prices on the menu were there for our information – we could order anything on the menu and there was no time limit. Other than sushi and sashimi, my favourites were crab shells with cheese and duck liver, not dishes you would order at a Japanese restaurant, I know. You cold also order Wagyu Beef Shabu Shabu or Kushiyaki (Japanese style meat or vegetables skewers).

Tonkatsu Restaurant (721 幸福牧場) at Soho Fuxing Square (復興廣場)

A decent little place in Soho Fuxing Square. There aren’t many tables so you may have to wait. I recommend their Tonkatsu Lunch Set and Grilled Unagi Rice Bowl.

Xibei Youmien Cun (西貝莜麵村)

Xibei opened its first restaurant in Inner Mongolia in 1988. It specialises in North-Western Chinese cuisines, in particular, oat noodles. Their signature dish is Oat Rolls with Tomato Sauce (澆汁莜麵). I also liked Okra with Scallion Oil (蔥油秋葵), Yili-Style Braised Chicken with Spicy Noodles (伊犁辣皮子燴大盤鷄) and Grilled Lamb Shashlik (烤羊肉串).

Oat Rolls with Tomato Sauce (澆汁莜麵)
Okra with Scallion Oil (蔥油秋葵)
BBQ Fish with Shallot (蔥香烤魚)
Grilled Lamb Shashlik (烤羊肉串)
Yili-Style Braised Chicken with Spicy Noodles (伊犁辣皮子燴大盤鷄)
Grilled Leg of Lamb (燒羊棒)

Bifengtang (避風塘)

Bifengtang serves Hong Kong style Cantonese cuisine with a new twist. I was particularly impressed by their Specialty Prawn Dumplings which is a set of five small steamers each containing a prawn dumpling with a different flavour. (Well, OK, there are only four prawn dumplings as one of them is a Sweet Rice Cake).

Crusty BBQ Pork Buns (酥皮叉燒包)
Spare-ribs and Chicken Feet with Rice served in a hot pot (鳳爪排骨煲仔飯)
Black Truffles Siu Mai (黑松露燒賣)
Specialty Prawn Dumplings (clockwise from top): Cordyceps 蟲草, Sweet Rice Cake 冰糖糕, Pea Shoots 豆苖, Truffles 黑松露, Original 原味

Nanxiang Steamed Bun Restaurant (南翔饅頭店) vs Ding Tai Feng (鼎泰豐)

Nanxiang Steamed Bun Restaurant is the original maker of Xiao Long Bao while Ding Tai Feng from Taiwan is famous for its version of XLB all over the world. So which one is better?

In my humble opinion, Din Tai Fung’s pastry is very thin but it has less meat while Nanxiang’s XLB is more meaty and bigger in size. In terms of flavour, they are both equally as good.

Xiao Long Bao tastes best when it is still hot @ Nanxiang Steamed Bun Restaurant
Xiao Long Bao @ Ding Tai Feng

New Shanghai (新上海)

I had thought I knew Shanghai cuisine until I went to New Shanghai. There are so many dishes on the menu that I hadn’t even heard of. Ironically, this is a chain from Sydney Australia opening its first restaurant in Shanghai.

Braised Eel (嚮油鱔糊)
Steamed Ham in Honey Sauce (蜜汁火方)
Sliced Beef in Sour Soup (酸湯風味肥牛)
Fried Fish Head with Fried Spring Onion (蔥烤鴉片魚頭) - trust me there is a fish head under all the fried spring onion