Find succulent roasted beef ribs at Tang Court. // © 2017 Langham Hospitality Group
Feature image (above): The one Michelin-starred Yong Yi Ting // © 2017 Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group
Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan may blip the loudest on clients' radar for fine dining in Asia, but Shanghai truly lays claim to some of the region’s most luxurious dining experiences. In fact, 2017 saw a major sea change with the launch of Michelin’s first Shanghai edition, with stars awarded to 26 restaurants.
The future-forward city’s upscale offerings range from an exclusive, $870-per-head, 10-seat restaurant where technology and cuisine fuse into an immersive 20-course sensory experience; to the latest outpost of a Hong Kong three-Michelin-star eatery; to, of course, Shanghainese food at its most elevated and stylish.
Here’s an insider guide to must-eats for a client’s (and maybe your) next China trip.
The Bund, a waterfront stretch along Huangpu River facing the futuristic Pudong district skyline, is where some of Shanghai’s most prestigious and romantic restaurants set up shop, including Jean-Georges, Mercato, 8 ½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana and Hakkasan Shanghai.
“Demon chef” Alvin Leung selected the Bund for his first Mainland Chinese sibling to Hong Kong’s flagship Bo Innovation, which won three Michelin stars for molecular and sci-fi twists on Cantonese and Chinese fare.
The interior of Bo Shanghai — once you get past its hidden door — is cinematic and moody, with layered wood, concrete walls and, of course, great views. The $217 tasting menu includes about 10 Instagram-worthy creations, including Leung’s famed and utterly delicious version of the quintessentially Shanghai soup dumpling "xiao long bao": a liquid globe that explodes inside your mouth with all the succulent meaty flavor and ginger accents found in the traditional kind.
Chop Chop Club
Just opened this February, chef Paul Pairet’s third Shanghai restaurant also occupies a prime location along The Bund, much like his contemporary French eatery, Mr. & Mrs. Bund. (The latter is well worth a visit for the saucy, decadent Truffle Meuniere Bread alone.)
Chop Chop Club’s concept entails a modern twist on the traditional carvery: Large digital screens display what’s cooking and the time it will be ready, and diners can reserve a single portion or entire order of, say, black-pepper short ribs, lemon and spice roasted leg of lamb or grilled turbot. For some real theater, try the a la carte shiitake mushrooms seared and snipped from a log, along with excellent craft cocktails served by the bottle (aka “bocktails”).
A 1930s Spanish-style villa in Jing’an District houses this outstanding, 10-year-old Shanghainese restaurant from chef Tony Lu (it’s actually a small chain). The setting is eclectic — various rooms range in size from two to 40 seats — and so is the assortment of classic and nouveau Shanghai cuisine, from sumptuous glazed squares of pork belly to a rice-wine-granita-topped drunken chicken.
L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon
Superstar French chef Joel Robuchon also chose the Bund as the home for his namesake venue’s Mainland China location, which opened last spring and quickly snagged two Michelin stars. A slick "Moulin Rouge"-esque, black-and-red, 32-seat chef’s counter and a handful of tables with stunning floor-to-ceiling Bund views are the setting for flawlessly executed modern French creations, including his signature round of layered caviar and lobster jelly.
Tang Court is the first and only Mainland China restaurant to hold three Michelin stars (so far). The well-lit Cantonese spot, which features gold and wood interiors, is set in the historic, boutique Xintiandi district, inside The Langham Shanghai, Xintiandi hotel. Executive chef Justin Tan offers up a la carte and set menus (ranging in price from an $85 prix fixe lunch to a $230 seven-course dinner) with delicacies such as steamed coral grouper with green peppercorns, double-boiled sea cucumber and chicken thigh, bird’s nest, suckling pig and dim sum.
Holder of two Michelin stars and ranked No. 8 on the 2017 list of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, the 5-year-old Ultraviolet represents a trip into the imagination of Chop Chop Club’s Pairet. The address is secret — guests are escorted to the hidden building from a rendezvous point — and once they arrive, a passage ushers diners into a room with just 10 seats. What follows is a 20-course meal with beverage pairings at $871 per head ($580 on Mondays and Tuesdays), served in a multimedia-equipped room. For one earthy dish, the table transforms into a grassy surface, projected trees appear, and the scent of a forest overtakes the room. For a seafood dish, diners will feel transported to the ocean through the sea scent piped into the room. Pairet and Ohio-born head chef Greg Robinson’s food, meanwhile, is gorgeous and creative, from Coca Cola Beijing Duck to a plump prawn served with a lime-licorice “shell.” There are currently three rotating menus available, which can be previewed on the website’s booking calendar.
“The point is not the projection,” Robinson said. “It’s the food. The plate is the canvas for a chef, and we expanded the canvas.”
Yong Yi Ting
Fu 1088’s Lu is the consulting chef at Mandarin Oriental Pudong Shanghai’s Yong Yi Ting, a one Michelin-starred eatery that serves gorgeously modern Jiang Nan (“south of the Yangtze River”) cuisine. The decor is contemporary and bright, and the food is refined, with deep yet nuanced flavors. A sublime morel soup particularly stood out during my dinner tasting.