Block 26F, 3rd floor
Tel: 86 21 3330 3920
Prolific Greek-Australian chef/restaurateur David Laris has turned his attentions to that cherished preserve of the Shanghai restaurant, the private dining room. This 12-seat, single-table venue has upped both the design element (white leather chairs, mini chandelier lamps) and the exclusivity quotient. At lunch and dinner, guests sample an eight-course meal from a monthly-changing menu that marries Laris's proven skills in combining Mediterranean and modern Australian cooking with Asian influences; there are also optional wine pairings. The glass kitchen allows diners to watch the preparation of dishes like praline and foie gras with muscat jelly, and salmon tetaki with wilted romaine, slow-cooked egg, and X.O. sauce. Advance reservations only.—Gary Bowerman
Lunch 12:30 pm, dinner 8 pm.
4446 Sanlitun Bar Street (behind Nali Market)
Tel: 86 10 6417 8084
Market-fresh cuisine, a casual, airy dining room, and friendly service keep this place continually abuzz with foreign and Chinese customers. Chef Vivi Goncalves's two-course, daily changing prix fixe menus fuse the flavors of her native Brazil with European and Chinese accents. The result: inventive dishes such as roasted baby pumpkin filled with coconut milk–poached shrimp, and filet mignon enhanced with Szechuan peppercorns. Reservations are a good idea.
3/F Nali Patio
81 Sanlitun Lu
Tel: 86 10 5208 6040
Max Levy, the U.S.-born, Japanese-trained chef behind Beijing's Bei, the sleek mod-Asian restaurant at the Opposite House, shows his Big Easy roots with his latest project. Apothecary is one part cocktail bar, one part down-home eatery, serving classic tipples alongside fried favorites. China Poblano chef José Andrés, who stumbled upon Levy's casual joint in Beijing's Chaoyang while researching his own new restaurant, reports, "Levy is an American from New Orleans, now cooking in Beijing." Translation: Expect plenty of andouille, tasso ham, and gumbo to go with your Sazerac (entrées, $9-$30).
Must eat: Fried chicken dinners on Sundays.
Chef Max Levy's favorite new restaurant: Howard Ino's Uo Kura, Shanghai
271 Fumin Lu
Tel: 86 21 5403 7239
Marked only by a tiny "BL" on a red neon sign, this brightly lit, bi-level French Concession dim sum joint is so popular that locals will wait hours for a table. Stop by for lunch and enjoy the crab and pork meatballs, sweet-and-sour fish topped with pine nuts, and crisp-tender steamed broccoli. The menu includes English translations, but be ready for some surprises—the "shredded chicken" is actually a pigeon served in several pieces, including the head. Make a reservation and bring cash—credit cards aren't accepted.
35 Di'anmen Xijie
Tel: 86 10 6405 6666
Old Beijing–style fare is dished up at this humble paper-napkin-and-disposable-chopsticks spot. As the name implies, it's not for the carb-conscious: Large bowls of zhajiang mian—doughy hand-pulled noodles topped with a salty bean and pork sauce and served with savory pork-and-leek dumplings—are the main draw here. This is hearty, traditional food, designed to fill up tummies and ward off the sharp northern wind. Service can be gruff, but cheap prices and the authenticity make it perfect for a fast lunch. There's no English menu, so either ask for the signature dish, or point to what people are eating at other tables.
6 Gongti Xilu
Tel: 86 10 6551 3533
Beijing's beautiful hipsters head here for casually elegant Taiwanese and Szechuan fare. Located near mega-nightclub Babyface and open till 4 a.m., it's popular for late-night feasts. A perennial standout is the Taiwanese dòufù bao, a savory mixture of ground pork, tofu strips, and sliced leeks, served in a sizzling stone pot. The laziji—tender morsels of chicken in a bright nest of chili peppers—is another sure bet. Desserts appear otherworldly, particularly the zonghe baobing, a mountain of shaved ice piled high with sweet red beans, condensed milk, tapioca pearls, sago chunks, and canned fruit cocktail (trust us, it tastes better than it sounds).
29 Zizhuyuan Road
Tel: 86 10 6841 2211 ext. 6727
Michelin-starred Irish-born chef Brian McKenna, who opened Gordon Ramsay's Verre restaurant in Dubai, brought his scientific brand of gastronomy to Beijing in 2007 and hasn't looked back. A paid-up member of the El Bulli generation, McKenna experiments with strong flavors and presents his cuisine with style and humor. Standout dishes include a cappuccino of curried sweet potato purée with Asian vegetables, and crab tempura with risotto, avocado ice cream and lemongrass bubbles. Although the location is inauspicious, at the Shangri-La hotel in the western suburbs, this really is world-class prix fixe dining. The garrulous McKenna also spends time working the dining room, and loves to spin a culinary yarn or two.
Open Tuesdays through Sundays, 5 pm to 1 am.
Shop 13, 2/F, J Residence
60 Johnston Road
Tel: 852 2850 8371
Tucked behind a historic shophouse in the rapidly gentrifying Wan Chai district, this inventive restaurant has benefited from the rock-star profile of its chef, Alvin Leung. It also carefully upholds a reputation for consistency and improvisation. Described as modern Chinese fusion, the cooking is edgier than most Hong Kong food, and it is served in a simple glass-framed space with a second-floor outdoor deck. Reservations-only diners tuck into dishes such as suckling pig with Sichuan vanilla, apple, and peas; and cod with saffron miso, Sauternes, and seaweed.—Gary Bowerman
Open Mondays through Fridays noon to 3 pm and 7 pm to midnight, Saturdays 7 pm to midnight.
Peak Galleria, Level 12
118 Peak Road
Tel: 852 2849 5111
Perched right on Victoria Peak, 1,355 feet above Hong Kong, Café Deco is best known for its spectacular views over the city and South China Sea. The menu here is eclectic—a little of this, a little of that—and is clearly designed to appeal to as wide a cross section of tourists as possible (crowds of them arrive every day to dine behind the restaurant's wall of glass windows). The sushi rolls, Indian and Thai curries, and pastas and pizzas are all decent, and there are some ambitious dishes like Australian Wagyu beef (otherwise known as Kobe) and tandoori ostrich filet. But it's the vistas—and the menu prices—that are the real jaw-droppers here.
House 6-7, Lane 123 South Block Xintiandi
Xingye Lu by Mandang Lu
Tel: 86 21 6385 8752
Spilling over the second floor of Xintiandi's modern mall, this busy restaurant packs a crowd on weekend mornings, with families flocking to chat and chew over dim sum. Though the dining room is a glass structure with large swaths of mirror, lights dim dramatically during the evening. Bamboo baskets pile up on the tables, filled with Cantonese classics: shrimp dumplings, soup-filled xiaolongbao, or pork-filled xiumai, all fresh from the steamer. Shanghai locals flip to the back of the menu, which offers juicy fried pork dumplings and soupy noodles with shredded pork and pickled radish. End your meal with the excellent chilled mango pudding. Consistently rated as one of the city's most popular spots for dim sum, this is a buzzy, casual place to sip tea and refuel before hitting the sites and shops of Xintiandi.
67 Xiaojingchang Lane
Tel: 86 10 8404 1430
This small hutong restaurant is a hidden gem. Tucked down a narrow alley in a converted house, it serves home-cooked treats from southwest Yunnan province. The small wooden-floor restaurant opens out onto a delightful tree-filled patio bordered by an Imperial-style concrete wall. It's a particularly romantic setting on summer evenings. The set menu changes daily and features a range of Yunnanese specialties, including a sweetly spicy dish of fried dark mushrooms, chicken with red peppers, and a mixed green salad with cucumber and strawberries. The combination of rich rustic flavors and back-lane setting creates one of Beijing's most atmospheric dining experiences.
Open daily from 11 am to 9 pm.
Hong Kong locals like their sweets—hence the huge proliferation of dessert-only restaurants around town. The treats at these cheap, cheerful places are especially popular after evening meals, and among kids (tables are often filled with high-school students gossiping over their condensed milk–doused mango-sago puddings). Traditional Chinese desserts like black-grass jelly, durian crepes, sweet tofu, and sesame paste are available either hot or cold; the friendly staffers manning the counters can help you decide among the offerings. Two of the best-known dessert names in town are Honeymoon Dessert and Hui Lau Shan, both of which have dozens of branches spread all over the city, decent hygiene standards, and English/Chinese menus. Honeymoon opened one of its biggest branches in the historic Western Market (Shop 4-6, ground floor, Western Market, Sheung Wan; 852-2851-2606; www.honeymoon-dessert.com). Hui Lau Shan has a wildly popular branch in Causeway Bay (ground floor, Po Hon Building, 24-30 Percival St.; 852-2574-6866).
Yuanjia International Apartments, 2nd floor
14 Dongzhong Jie
Tel: 86 10 6417 9289
Hot pot is a must in Beijing, even in summer (what else are industrial-strength air conditioners for?). And there's no better place to try it than this restaurant, with its swinging '60s decor and white pleather banquettes. The individual hot pots here are do-it-yourself affairs: You're served paper-thin slices of beef or lamb, which you simmer in a bubbling vat of broth and then swirl in a rich sesame sauce. An assortment of vegetables and delectable sesame-encrusted shao bing buns round out a meal that's hot, steamy, and raucous—just the way Beijingers like it. No reservations.
No matter how many McDonald's and KFC franchises open up in Hong Kong, savory dumplings are the city's fast-food staple. The ubiquitous dumpling shops offer the full range of regional variations.
Din Tai Fung, a branch of the famous Taiwan shop, is well known for its delicate xiaolongbao, little purses of meat and soup wrapped in dough and steamed in bamboo baskets. They are a meal unto themselves and are often washed down with Chinese tea (third floor, Whampoa Gourmet Place, Whampoa Garden, Hung Hom, Kowloon; 852-2330-4886; www.dintaifung.com.tw/eng).
Another variety, the half-moon-shaped jiaozi, is drier inside but just as filling and tasty. One of the best places to try it is the mom-and-pop shop Wang Fu, where you can choose from a variety of fillings, including the popular traditional pork-and-chives and special creations like tomato-and-egg. They are served alone or with noodles; each order comes with a complimentary glass of soy milk (Whampoa, Jade Center, 98-102 Wellington St., Central; 852-2121-8006).
Second floor, LKF Tower
33 Wyndham Street
Tel: 852 2522 9318
A Nordic lounge and restaurant set in a Soho skyscraper, FINDS is an acronym for Finland, Iceland, Norway, Denmark, and Sweden—the collection of countries that inspired its menus and design. The modernist decor and menu of updated Northern European classics (blini with caviar, venison loin) and "scapas" (Scandinavian tapas such as wild-forest-mushroom pie) attract a clientele of design-minded locals and stylish travelers. Vodka, of course, is the drink of choice here, mixed into signature cocktails named for Nordic celebs: The Björk is basil-infused vodka with passion fruit, pineapple, and coconut, while the Edvard Munch is lime aquavit and ginger wine (insert your own Scream joke here). These concoctions are sipped inside deep blue banquettes, around the snow-white bar, or on the blond-wood patio, where DJs spin on weekends.
3545 Johnston Road
Tel: 852 2866 0663
One of the city's top Cantonese restaurants since 1972, Fook Lam Moon is old-school—both in cuisine and decor (look for the shrine to the kitchen god near the entrance). The prices are high, but you're paying for the solicitous, old-world service as well as for beautifully prepared, classic dishes like bird's nest soup (sweetened, double-boiled, and served in a coconut shell), braised whole abalone with Chinese mushrooms, and whole roast suckling pig. There's another branch in Kowloon's Tsim Sha Tsui district (53-59 Kimberley Rd., 852-2366-0286).
1 Yueyang Lu
Tel: 86 21 6431 9700
Admirer Howard Ing calls Gogathe tiny restaurant named after San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge
"a no-frills establishment that's all about the food." In fact, the 20-seat French Concession eatery is so bare-bones that it doesn't even have a bathroom. But regulars don't mind, lauding the fact that chef Brad Turley is always in the kitchen (in his Hawaiian print shirt), turning out delicious dishes like torched tuna sashimi and the off-menu Brad burger (entrées, $24-$56).
Must eat: Lobster rolls with green papaya salad.
Tel: 852 2989 6036
Most visitors to Hong Kong stay amid the snaking streets of the Central District, but it's worth making the westward trek to the high-tech enclave of Cyberport for a meal at Green T. House. The minimalist whitewashed space overlooks the South China Sea and its walls display a rotating collection of artwork, all with a tea theme. Canaries provide the musical accompanimentexcept on nights when enigmatic owner JinR plays the gu qin, a Chinese dulcimer. The innovative menu includes addictive dishes such as cow-ear mushrooms in wasabi, ginger, and sesame oil; and a radish, celery, and cucumber salad infused for two days in secret spices. Those with more adventurous palates should try chef Alan Yu's texturally creative items like ribbon cuttlefish "pasta" with Champagne and Szechuan pepper.
Open daily 11 am to 2:30 pm and 6 pm to midnight.
137 Fuzhou Lu
Tel: 86 21 6321 0586
Occupying the ground floor of a 1930s Art Deco tower, this French brasserie and bar pays homage to Shanghai's stylistic history. The subtle Deco interiorcreated with the help of Shanghai couturier Lu Kunis perfectly pitched, and the entire venue, from a spring-loaded wooden entrance door with a sign saying "Treat me carefully, I am more than 70 years old" to period furnishings and a long wooden bar that morphs into the staircase banister, evokes the romance of 1930s Shanghai. The set menus at lunch are excellent value, and dinner offers refined, fusion-free European fare, such as pickled sardine fillets or grilled pigeon.
Open daily noon to 4 pm and 6 to 10:30 pm.
28th floor, 1 Peking Road
Tsim Sha Tsui
Tel: 852 3428 8342
Hutongs, traditional alleyways lined with ancient thatched-roof houses, are gradually disappearing from the capital, but happily this gorgeous restaurant set high in One Peking Road Tower isn't likely to go anywhere soon. Swathed in scarlet and black, it pays homage to its namesake with antique wood furnishings, red lanterns, and bamboo birdcages. The menu—as endless as the views—is traditional Chinese from across the nation: platters of crispy, fatty lamb ribs; braised Mandarin fish fillets with spicy black-bean sauce; and prawns with herbs and dried chiles. Finish with a drink at neighboring Aqua Spirit, a rooftop bar that gives Philippe Starck's nearby Felix a run for its money.
90 Huanghe Lu by Fengyang Lu
Tel: 86 21 6327 6878
In a town that loves steamed dumplings, some of the best are served at this humble joint. Follow the queue of locals to indulge in Shanghai's signature dish, xiaolongbao—round pork dumplings that hide a trickle of soup within their delicate wrapper. Place your order at the cash register and settle down at a table; each bamboo basket of dumplings is wrapped and steamed to order. The tiny shop, located on a well-traveled street off People's Square, packs a crowd during peak hours, but the exquisite dumplings are worth the wait, despite disposable chopsticks and scuffed tables. Dine here early or not at all—when the restaurant sells out of xiaolongbao, it closes for the day.
Mandarin Oriental Hotel
5 Connaught Road
Tel: 852 2825 4014
The Mandarin Oriental's Krug Room is the ultimate in gustatory indulgence. Diners arrive via limousine and are escorted to a secret room off the kitchen that accommodates no more than ten diners. Menus and welcome messages from the kitchen are written on slate walls, and floors are made from the same oak used to form the barrels in which the famous Champagne is aged. But the focus here is on the kitchen. Diners watch as executive chef Uwe Opocensky, who trained at Spain's El Bulli, creates dishes designed to complement different Krug Champagnes, be they Rosé or Vintage 1995. Guests are encouraged to discuss the menu directly with the chef, who tends toward dramatic dishes with names like "Golden Caviar, Black Cod and Rain." Be sure to make reservations at least two weeks in advance and to apply for a second mortgage: Dinner at the Krug Room costs a minimum of $2,575 per person.
Open Mondays through Fridays 7 to 10:30 am, noon to 3 pm, and 6:30 to 11 pm; Saturdays noon to 3 pm and 6:30 to 11 pm.
38 Gaoyou Lu
Tel: 86 21 6433 5126
Dark, moody, and sleekly sophisticated, Lost Heaven serves a rich fusion of regional Yunnanese and Burmese cuisines with a noticeable Thai kick. The three-floored interior is dressed in dark woods, red lanterns, Southeast Asian artifacts, and Yunnanese stone face masks. A two-floor shrine on the back wall is made from dried pu'er tea leaves. Unsurprisingly, it's a see-and-be-seen hot spot for local celebs and visiting movie stars from Hong Kong. An extensive menu has garlicky and lemongrass-infused seafood and meat options. For extra spice, try the Burmese curried vegetables, and for regional authenticity the flavorful dishes incorporating Yunnan's famed mushrooms. The first-floor Mask lounge offers ambient DJ tunes, boudoir chamber beds, and more spot-lit stone masks.
Open daily 11 am to 2 pm and 5:30 to 10:30 pm.
2426 Stanley Street
Tel: 852 2523 5464
The best—and certainly the most traditional—dim sum in town is served here. Its 1930s rosewood furniture, creaky ceiling fans, brass spittoons, and famously rude waiters have made it a favorite with tycoons such as David Tang (of Shanghai Tang fame) and Dickson Poon, chairman of Harvey Nichols in London. For the genuine experience, come for an early lunch—after 11 a.m. they park the trolleys and break out the picture menus for tourists (though at lunch hour, you may often find yourself virtually ignored by the waiters in favor of the locals, who don't need every dumpling described). If you do decide to show up during the calmer evening repast, come early; the dim sum ends at 5:30 p.m.
1 East Chang An Avenue
Tel: 86 10 8518 1234
Northern China's rough-and-ready flavors are the focus at this restaurant in the Grand Hyatt hotel. The red-and-black dining room feels very "new Beijing"—modern, moneyed, slightly showy—and has a bustling open kitchen where chefs whisk Peking ducks in and out of a wood-burning oven. The roasted birds are the showstoppers here; try the succulent meat rolled into delicate pancakes. Other favorites include delicate pork-and-leek dumplings, and sautéed beef tenderloin with green chiles. Be sure to book in advance—and reserve your Peking duck at the same time (it can take almost two hours to cook).
24 Daxiangfeng Hutong
Tel: 86 10 6612 6847
Step into 1930s elegance at this impeccably restored courtyard restaurant, inspired by the great Peking opera star Mei Lanfang (a man who specialized in women's roles). The entire sensory experience here is dramatic: The series of rooms is filled with antique furniture and opera memorabilia, including one of Mei Lanfang's dramatic hand-embroidered costumes; the service is dignified and attentive; and the high, swaying notes of Peking opera (recordings of the master's great performances) drift through the dining areas. In fact, the only part of dining here that you may find less than completely dazzling is the prix fixe menu; it features the light, low-salt cuisine developed by Mei Lanfang in order to maintain his girlish figure. The flavors of dishes like shrimp with water chestnuts, steamed fish, and stir-fried celery and lily root are, therefore, very subtle—not quite as rich as the rest of the experience here. Reservations are recommended.
18 The Bund, 6F
Tel: 86 21 6323 9898
French chef Paul Pairet enjoyed huge success with his playful molecular gastronomy at Pudong Shangri-La's Jade on 36. He then jumped the Huangpu River to go solo on the Bund. The need to book a table here several days in advance proves it was a good move. Pairet is a thoughtful, humorous personality, and his restaurant's kaleidoscopic interior sets a lively, informal tone. Service is gracious and French-trained but unstuffy, while the modern European cuisine blends updated classicism with Pairet's molecular tendencies. The huge menu offers something for most tastes, and surprises for everyone. A rich gazpacho is served with toasted bread, tomato, roasted chile peppers, fresh anchovies, and arugula; Pan-roasted veal cutlets are finished with roasted morels, asparagus, light cream, toasted almonds, and hazelnuts.—Gary Bowerman
Open Mondays 11:30 am to 2 pm and 6:30 to 10:30 pm, Tuesdays through Fridays 11:30 am to 2 pm and 6:30 pm to 4 am, Saturdays 6:30 pm to 4 am, and Sundays 6:30 to 10:30 pm.
15 Irving Street
Tel: 852 3196 9100
The first seriously swank eatery to move into cooler-by-the-minute Causeway Bay, Opia is a supper club inside the Jia Boutique Hotel that's reached by a purple sandstone staircase. Youthful local designer André Fu seems to have rebelled against his mentor, English minimalist John Pawson: The space pops with burgundy walls and lilac daybeds. The food is courtesy of Melbourne-born chef Teage Ezard, whose dishes—crispy fried pork with Thai basil and marinated bean shoots; yellowfin tuna sashimi with bonito panna cotta; Wagyu red beef curry with pumpkin—reflect his antipodean past and Chinese present. Come early for cocktails or late for DJs and dancing.
911 Lan Kwai Fong
Tel: 852 2186 1817
The name of this European-style bar and restaurant would seem to refer to 1997, the year when British rule over Hong Kong ended. But in fact, the owners named the place all the way back in 1982and it's still popular today. Open almost around the clock (except on weekends, when it just serves dinner and nighttime cocktails), it's a great place for comfort food like burgers, egg dishes, grilled lamb sausages, pasta, or risotto. For many locals, a stop here is akin to hangover prevention.
Tongguang Building, Zhongguo Wenlianyuan
12 Nongzhanguan Road
Tel: 86 10 6592 3627
Entering Pure Lotus is like stumbling into a pleasantly surreal dream world. The nondescript parking lot entrance is disconcerting until smiling robed guides lead you to the back door. Once inside, the subtly lit dining room blends the mysticism of a Tibetan monastery with the lemongrass scent and lilac-and-grass-green aesthetics of a deluxe spa. It's enigmatically beautiful, and the inventively presented gourmet vegetarian cuisine reaches the same high standard as the decor. Menu picks include organic mushroom dumplings that melt in the mouth and sautéd lotus Artemisia with mushrooms, which is pure veggie nirvana. A kitschy soundtrack of monks chanting covers of Losing My Religion and Tears in Heaven adds an extra sense of levity.
Open daily from 11 am to 10:30 pm.
3/F Park Life Tower
2 Jianguomenwai Avenue
Tel: 86 10 8517 2033
Garrulous Irishman Brian McKenna cut his culinary teeth with Gordon Ramsay and is now cooking up his own brand of contemporary cuisine. After a molecular-infused stint across town at Blu Lobster, McKenna opened the whimsical 150-seat Room Beijing, featuring art exhibits, a bright-pink library, a resident DJ, and visiting wine experts. The menu spans myriad Euro-Asian influences, ranging from sweet-and-sour pig cheeks with rice noodles to a 42-ingredient salad and pot-roasted black cod with spicy coconut milk. Most dishes are served in small, medium, or large portions, accommodating both family-style sharing and individual dining.—Gary Bowerman
Open Sundays through Wednesdays 11 am to 1:30 am, Thursdays through Saturdays 11 am to 1:30 am.
5 Jianguomen Gongyuan Toutiao
Tel: 86 10 6512 2277
Packed with red-faced patrons eating lip-tingling fare, this restaurant—which is indeed operated by the Sichuan provincial government and staffed solely by Sichuan locals—is worth seeking out. The decor—if fluorescent lights and linoleum floors can be considered decor—may scream "state-owned," but the kitchen's skillful blend of chile peppers and numbing Sichuan peppercorns makes for some unforgettably spicy meals. Among the best dishes are shuizhuyu—filleted grass carp delicately poached in fragrant oil—and dandan mian, slender noodles tossed with chili oil and ground pork. If your heat tolerance is low, go for the yuxiang rousi: strips of pork in a sweet, savory, only slightly spicy sauce.
18A Dafosi Dongjie
Tel: 86 10 6400 8941
Owned by Buddhists, this brightly lit, sparklingly clean restaurant serves flavorful dishes, all made without meat, onions, garlic, or leeks (the last three are considered stimulants in Buddhist culture, and not very conducive to "still thoughts"). Mock meats like shredded "pork" in a rich, savory sauce, Beijing roast "duck," tangy lemon "chicken," are especially delicious—and guilt-free.
No. 8 Xintiandi North Part
Lane 181 Tai Cang Lu
Tel: 86 21 6355 8999
T8 is nestled in a 19th-century Shikumen home, gated by stone arcs and adorned with Asian antiques, but despite the old-school touches, this restaurant and nightclub sports a decidedly modern edge, thanks to smoked glass, romantic lighting, and an open kitchen that churns out bold Pan-Asian and Mediterranean plates. Soak up the scene, sip a New Zealand Pinot Noir, snack on caramelized salted salmon or slow-cooked Szechuan lamb, and see if you can scope out some celebrities—this dazzling nightspot is known to attract its fair share of stars. Reservations are essential.
Lyndhurst Tower, First floor
1 Lyndhurst Terrace
Tel: 852 2845 2262
The best Indian food in town, bar none, is served up at this restaurant, where there's a real clay tandoor oven in the kitchen. Among the succulent dishes cooked in it are leg of lamb and lobster tandoori (both of which need to be ordered two hours in advance, but which are well worth the wait), murck khurchan (chicken curry with fresh-ground black pepper), and tandoori jeegna (king prawns marinated with spices). There's an impressive lunch buffet with more than two dozen selections, and live Indian music in the evenings. Save room for the homemade mango or pistachio ice cream for dessert.
No. 3 the Bund
3 Zhong Shan Dong Yi Lu
Tel: 86 21 6323 3355
Featuring a grand Beaux Arts exterior and postmodern interior, this seven-floor structure—built in 1916—rejuvenated the historic Bund with its 2004 renovation by Michael Graves. Inside, the 13,000-square-foot space features the esteemed Shanghai Gallery of Art, an Evian Spa, and also plenty of shopping options, such as the Armani store and designer clothing boutique THREE Fashion. It also houses four of Shanghai's top restaurants: Jean Georges Shanghai, serving haute East-meets-West cuisine (86-21-6321-7733); Whampoa Club, featuring stylish Shanghainese (86-21-6321-3737); Laris, home of Australian-Greek chef David Laris's experimental international fare (21-6321-9922); and New Heights, offering mod Asian brasserie dishes (86-21-6321-0909). But its crowning glory is the top-floor lookout deck, where VIPs snuggle into two- and eight-seat private dining rooms and order from any of the chefs toiling away below.
507 Fu Xing Road Central
Building 1, 3rd floor
Tel: 86 152 2133 1369
Restaurateur Howard Ing has brought together a three-Michelin-star chef and a sushi master to create the ultimate Osaka-style restaurant in Shanghai's new Sinan Mansions development. Admirer Max Levy describes the kaiseki menu, chef Hideaki Matsuo's domain, as "spot-on," with a "succulent poached oyster floating in dashi that's the pure essence of the sea." But, Levy says, "the real magic is at the beautiful sushi bar, where you can have the best sushi outside Kansai." It doesn't hurt that the restaurant has views of the former residence of Sun Yat-Sen and Fu Xing park (entrées, $14-$122).
Must eat: Chef Yutaka Kinjo's unagirapidly steamed eel grilled over an open fire, then baked over Koshihikari rice.
Chef Howard Ing's favorite new restaurant: Brad Turley's Goga, Shanghai
603 Fuzhou Lu by Zhejiang Lu
Tel: 86 21 6322 3673
This venerable restaurant in the heart of the city near People's Square has been open since 1744 and is renowned for its hairy crabs, a regional delicacy available only during the cool autumn months. Local lore states that the sweetest crabs hail from the dark depths of nearby Yangcheng Lake; if they're in season, the tender flesh—as well as the orange roe or the sticky gray sperm—will be featured in dumplings, stir-fries, and other dishes in multicourse banquets. Of course, all this freshwater crabmeat comes with a rather, er, hairy price (starting at $60 per person, depending on the season) that some might find slightly incongruous with the fluorescent lighting and brisk service.
23A Jinrong Jie Beijing (Financial Street)
Tel: 86 10 8808 8828
Having wowed diners with his "New Shanghainese" cuisine at Three on the Bund, chef Jereme Leung has expanded his Chinese fine-dining concept to the capital. The sumptuous dining room, dressed in royal blue and black, with polished wood floors and a silvery-sky ceiling, occupies a beautifully redesigned siheyuan courtyard home, surrounded by the glassy sky towers of Beijing's new Financial District, west of Tiananmen Square. Leung is adding a contemporary élan to traditional Beijing dishes, with exotic reworkings such as crispy duck with five-spiced goose liver mousse, and fresh mango and jellyfish salad marinated in sweet vinegar. There are several private rooms for tête-à-tête dining and a spacious courtyard terrace. An impeccably dressed black-themed lounge bar on the upper floor perfectly crosses new Beijing chic with esoteric clubbiness.
Open daily from 11 am to 10:30 pm.