Header image courtesy of Kung Tak Lam (via Facebook)
Shanghai may have once been a meat-eating city, but times are changing. Although the region is still popular for its variety of carnivorous dishes, the vegan and vegetarian scene is making its debut. Plus, Buddhist food is vegetarian and has been a longstanding part of Chinese food culture. Whether you’re plant-based or not, here are some of the best veggie spots to get your vegan and vegetarian fix, in the heart of bustling Shanghai.
Wu Guan Tang has been on Shanghai’s vegetarian radar for some time now. The seasonal, handwritten menu features local vegetable dishes, with signature dishes like roasted scalloped potato. Located in a discreet lane house on Xinhua Lu, the restaurant features its own rooftop patio, and is decked in serene, intimate furnishings to make you feel right at home. Try the menu full of inventive, seasonal dishes, which never compromise on flavour. Everything is natural, meaning you won’t find artificial meat substitutes here—everything is focused on making the most out of veggies.
Wu Guan Tang, 349 Xinhua Road, Changning District, Shanghai, China | (+86) 21 6281 3695
Taking things up a notch, Fu He Hui is an upscale dining establishment, which serves vegetarian fine dining. Helmed by Chef Tony Lu, the Michelin-starred restaurant is inspired by the traditional cuisine from the chef’s hometown, with influences from Yong Yi Ting at the Mandarin Oriental, and fu 1015. The eight-course tasting menu is an absolute must, bringing out simple, yet divine flavours from seasonal ingredients. A popular joint amongst veggie and non-veggie gourmands, the restaurant usually requires booking in advance, so be sure to make a reservation to avoid disappointment. Encompassing a zen environment, the restaurant captures the essence of authentic vegan food—one which doesn’t just focus on the food, but on the lifestyle, too.
Fu He Hui, 1037 Yuyuan Road, Changning District, Shanghai, China, 200085 | (+86) 21 3980 9188
Taking a health-driven approach to vegetarian food, Pure & Whole is a Western restaurant which focuses on celebrating wholegrains, power foods, and lentils, to curate a menu of fruitful salads and soups, to name a few. The founders also place a heavy emphasis on sustainability and want to encourage diners to integrate some vegetarian dining in their diets. If it’s something light yet nourishing you’re after, the restaurant ticks all the boxes. Cheers to healthy dining!
Pure & Whole, 1376 West Nanjing Road (Portman Complex) Shanghai, China | (+86) 21 6289 8316
Notably, the upscale version of its sister brand, Vegetarian Lifestyle, Dashu Wujie brings an elevated approach to atmosphere and cuisine. Located on Tianping Road, the venue features a range of Chinese dishes, with Western touches. The truffle and tofu dishes are must-orders for the discerning crowd.
Dashu Wujie, 392 Tianping Road, Xujiahui, Xuhui District, Shanghai, China | (+86) 21 3469 2857
Jujube Tree specialises in synthetic meat, which is a lot less scary than it sounds. The dishes are made entirely from healthy tofu or seitan, cooked in fantastic ways, and drizzled in scrumptious sauces, to make it taste similar to its meat counterparts. Some particular highlights include the spinach dumplings and spicy bamboo pot.
Jujube Tree, 258 Fengxian Lu, Jing'an District, Shanghai, China | (+86) 21 6215 7566
As Shanghai’s oldest vegetarian restaurant (opened in 1922), Godly/Gong De Lin is a hidden gem amongst the city’s dining scene. The two-story establishment is devoted to serving delightful, meat-free variations on its menu. Decked in mahogany furniture, a Buddhist-honouring altar, and chic gazebos, the eatery welcomes monks to dine, as well as any other veggie gourmands. Favourites include the tofu BBQ “duck”, the fried “spring chicken”, and the sweet and sour sauteed tofu.
Godly, 445 Nanjing Road West, Huangpu, Shanghai, China | (+86) 21 6327 0218
If sushi is your thing, you might have thought it would be difficult to give it up entirely as part of your new vegetarian lifestyle. Think again—Maruyama serves all-vegan sushi and Japanese cuisine, which take things a step further than cucumber maki and avocado rolls. The sushi is curated with mock salmon, tuna, and eel—you'll hardly notice the difference. Test out your sushi palette at this first-and-only vegan sushi spot in Shanghai. The gyozas are also worth a pop.
Maruyama Japanese Cuisine, 451 Da Pu Lu, Huangpu Qu, Shanghai, China | (+86) 81 1735 7675
Many hotpot places offer very minimal choices for vegans, but Tibetan Buddhist restaurant Yi Ye Yi Shi Jie serves a wide variety of vegan dishes ranging from mock pork belly to dumplings to spicy pita bread. Here, you can customise your own sauce and choose a broth of your preference. While it is not an all-you-can-eat hotpot place, the food is very filling for around 150 yuan per person. Most importantly, the ingredients are fresh and not greasy at all, making it a great spot for a clean but fancy meal during your Shanghai excursion. There are friendly staffs and a comfortable dining environment with private booths and free wifi, and the restaurant is conveniently located in a shopping mall near Nanjing West Road train station.
Yi Ye Yi Shi Jie, Shop 509, 5th floor, 818 Plaza, 818 Nanjing W Rd, Shanghai, China | (+86) 21 3353 0335