Header image courtesy of 十里洋場 10 Shanghai (via Facebook)
Maybe you’re a Shanghai food veteran, familiar with the scent of all its special sauces and juicy, meaty dishes. Or maybe you’re new to this branch of Chinese cuisine, in which case, it’s time to venture beyond the typical xiaolongbao and dive into all that Shanghainese food has to offer. From street food stalls to Michelin-starred eateries, check out our round-up of the best Shanghai restaurants in Hong Kong.
Tucked away in the basement of an unassuming hotel is the fashionable Lao Xue Yuan (老雪園), a long-time favourite of late casino magnate Stanley Ho and late entertainment mogul Sir Run Run Shaw. Trust me, those guys must have eaten an abundance of really good food in their lifetimes, which says something about what Lao Xue Yuan serves up.
Lao Xue Yuan’s signature Wuxi-style crispy eel ($88) is doused in a lightly sweet but not overly sticky sauce, yet it miraculously retains its sharp crisp. Another house speciality is the skilfully marinated camphor tea leaf-smoked duck ($180 for half). The usually coarse consistency of duck meat is turned most tender in this dish, and each bite signals interweaving hints of earthy tea and smokiness.
Lao Xue Yuan, B1/F, South Pacific Hotel, 23 Morrison Hill Road, Wan Chai | (+852) 3705 9136
3.6.9. is one of the few hardcore traditional Shanghainese restaurants left in Hong Kong, its origins dating back to its founding in 1965. Its cha chaan teng-like interior is a testament to their long history, along with the round tables that encourage lively group conversations, emulating the convivial atmosphere of Shanghai restaurants of yore.
Classics include their crab roe xiaolongbao ($25); the dumpling skin is thicker than you would expect, but that’s because this amended recipe helped diners fill their stomachs on less back in the day. For a quick but toothsome lunch, order the Lion’s Head meatball ($54) to go with Shanghainese vegetable rice and enjoy a giant, succulent meatball bathed in a light sauce made the traditional way.
3.6.9. Restaurant Shanghai Food, G/F, 30–32 O’Brien Road, Wan Chai | (+852) 2527 8611
Wang Jia Sha (王家沙) is one of the biggest names in Hong Kong’s Shanghai food scene. With shops across the city, you have probably at least seen or passed by the bustling eatery before. At Bloom by Wang Jia Sha (王家沙花樣年華), the mastery of Shanghainese cuisine is evident across the board, from appetisers such as the refreshing and juicy drunken chicken ($98) to dim sum and desserts like the rich, yolky goodness of the custard lava steamed bun ($38). While it’s definitely more of a Sichuan staple, don’t forget to order their dan dan noodles ($68) to savour fine noodles soaked in spicy sauce, chilli oil, and peanut paste—it’s a Wang Jia Sha speciality.
Unlike the other restaurants on this list, you can only get takeout at Cheung Hing Kee Shanghai Pan-fried Buns (祥興記上海生煎包). Their shops are narrow slivers parading as counters and their menu is practically limited to three types of pan-fried buns, but all is forgiven when you take your first bite of the juicy flavour bomb—imagine the best xiaolongbao you’ve ever eaten, but with a crunchy pan-fried bottom!
Choose between their signature pan-fried buns ($30 for four pieces), pan-fried buns with shrimp ($36 for four), the fancier pan-fried buns with black truffle ($30 for two), or a mixed combination of the above. As you wait for your order, watch the chefs closely as they deftly assemble fresh buns and spin the large wok to cook them. This artisanal take on the Shanghainese speciality truly makes for amazing street food or a light meal.
Wu Kong Shanghai Restaurant boasts a unique taste of Shanghai, having absorbed the best of all the subtle variations of the cuisines in the surrounding regions. Venture in for their affordable lunch sets of warming bowls of spare rib noodles and the like, but stay for their crab dinners. Grab your friends or relatives to divvy up the glorious Shanghai hairy crab, but note that the menu and availability vary seasonally. For a year-round special, try the crabmeat with scorched rice ($360 for four pieces), where the creamy bits of crabmeat perfectly complements the crunchy rice.
With over 13 Michelin stars combined for their branches in Hong Kong, Taipei, and Shanghai, Yè Shanghai faithfully proves themselves to be the top of their craft year after year. The classy restaurant offers traditional Shanghai dishes like the chewy and cool stir-fried river shrimps ($188), alongside more modern, innovative creations like the Shanghai rice cake with eight treasures ($220). For the best of Shanghainese cuisine, have the braised beef ribs with special sauce ($340) as the rich sauce enhances the flavour of the tenderised beef.
Craving pan-fried buns, but want to enjoy them leisurely at the restaurant rather than as a takeaway snack? Head on over to one of the many branches of Ging Sun Ho King of Bun (堅信號上海生煎皇) for the succulent snack. Order their famous pan-fried buns ($36 for four pieces) as a single dish, or add on as a side to complement one of their many Shanghainese mains. Other must-tries include the signature thick-cut pork chop with vegetable rice ($56) and the smooth, velvety broth of the yellow croaker broth noodles ($68) for fish lovers.
The inimitable 10 Shanghai is a hidden gem found only in the city, headed by executive chefs who’ve cooked the cuisine for various restaurants, hotels, and even government organisations. Sample their Jiangsu-style smoked fish ($98), a rare appetiser that is lovingly marinated overnight in ginger, rice wine, garlic, rock sugar, black vinegar, and five spices. How about a light snack? Go for the deep-fried yellow croaker in seaweed ($208), where deboned fish is dipped into seaweed batter and fried until crisp and golden. Dine on expertly-made dishes under the glittering ballroom lights of Shanghai in the 1920s for a most memorable meal.
10 Shanghai, Shop 101, Lee Garden Two, 28 Yun Ping Road, Causeway Bay | (+852) 2338 5500