Shanghai is a goldmine for glorious dim sum dining. With so many options, settling on where to chow down can be a tough decision. But getting there is only half the battle. As soon as you sit down at the round table, you’re handed a long menu with a dizzying array of delicious options. No to worry, I am going to tell you where to eat and what to order. Each restaurant on this list serves incredible versions of dim sum’s must-order dishes, including suckling pig, shrimp dumplings, radish cake, friend noodles, and creamy egg tarts. Order everything, because it’s a shame to hold back at dim sum, which is best experienced wearing stretchy pants. Not only does this list contain the most cult-worthy Hong Kong imports like Lei Garden, it also gives a knowing nod to Crystal Jade and Ye Shanghai, which are double trouble. So go on, book a table and repeat after me: “My diet starts tomorrow.”
Crystal Jade is the real deal. The Singapore chain has many locations around the city. The Xintiandi flagship is constantly packed with a sophisticated local crowd feasting on Shanghainese delicacies like xiao long bao, or soup dumplings. But the real draw here is a set of Cantonese dim sum dishes like crackling pork belly, sticky mango pudding, and plump shrimp dumplings.
Hong Kongers and dim sum addicts flock to the enormous Cantonese restaurant Jade Garden, which occupies an entire floor in one of the shiny new towers of the Jing’an Kerry Centre. With tables filled as far as eyes can see, the atmosphere is lively and bustling, as foodies indulge in the tome-like menu of contemporary Cantonese cuisine, from crispy braised brisket to creative takes on yum cha, or afternoon tea.
Xin Dau Ji
The park setting of Xin Dau Ji is enough reason to go alone. Set in a corner of French Concession’s lovely Xiangyang Park, the terrace is set next to a lush green lawn, fountains, and trellises bursting with purple flowers. On top of the sweet al fresco setting, this family-owned, Michelin-starred Hong Kong establishment has excellent Cantonese classics like suckling pig and radish cakes.
Ye Shanghai is a popular lunch spot for travelers who are sightseeing in the upscale shopping neighborhood of Xintiandi. Their weekend dim sum ($16/person) is an affordable way to taste the best of Shanghainese and Cantonese cuisine in an elegant-yet-relaxed atmosphere. On Friday and Saturday nights, guests can enjoy live music.
Lei Garden is an upmarket Canontese restaurant with Michelin stars in Hong Kong and outposts all over Southeast Asia, including nearly 20 in Shanghai. The brand new iAPM locale is a choice spot for well-heeled local families to linger over long, gut-busting brunches. With a particular focus on seafood, the lengthy menu features classic dim sum dishes like roast pigeon, suckling pig, and braised abalone.