Beautiful, bustling Shanghai: whether you’re exploring the historic areas of Puxi or threading amongst the futuristic skyscrapers of Pudong, this dynamic and crowded city has a whole lot to offer. But it can also be overwhelming to navigate – particularly if it’s up to you to organise meetings, dinners, or other business events. For business travellers looking to impress their clients in this vast Chinese megalopolis, we’ve selected some of the best venues for entertaining in Shanghai.
A number of Shanghainese eateries were included in the recent Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants List, singling it out as one of the continent’s top foodie capitals. For business travellers, then, there’s a wealth of locations suitable for liaising with clients while getting a taste of the local culture: think just-so ambiance, impeccable service, and skilled cooking that’s certain to impress.
For those seeking traditional Chinese cuisine, one of the city’s best-rated restaurants is Lost Heaven. Its sumptuous dark wood and burgundy interior creates a sophisticated backdrop for the elegant menu, which includes refined interpretations of traditional Yunnanese food, which hails from China’s southwestern province, bordering Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam. Dishes like aubergine cooked in tomato sauce and simmered vegetables in tamarind juice will appeal to more delicate palates, though the menu is also populated with spice-laden offerings. Couple the interesting cuisine with discreet service and English language menus, and you’ve found a perfectly accessible dining enclave for business travellers.
For those who like their traditional Chinese fare served up with a good dose of history, Family Li Imperial Cuisine has a back-story that, incredibly, can be traced as far back as the Qing dynasty. A series of opulently decorated private nooks allow for discreet business dining, while tasting menus offer an array of dishes inspired by imperial recipes, providing a unique window into traditional Chinese cuisine. The Peking duck is a must-try.
And for those after something accessibly priced but still impressive, one eternally popular choice among visiting businesspeople is Din Tai Fung. With convenient locations in both Puxi and Pudong, the traditional Chinese eatery specialises in xiaolongbao, the famous thin-skinned ‘soup dumplings.’ The clean and bright interior, attentive service, and English menus are further bonuses, while the culinary-minded will be pleased to know that the restaurant chain has been awarded a Michelin star for its efforts – hole-in-the-wall dumpling shop this is not.
There are also a number of high-end, accomplished Western restaurants in Shanghai, where hospitality and exceptional cooking are the orders of the day. One of the most widely acclaimed is Jean-Georges. The original Chinese outpost in Michelin-decorated chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s empire, the restaurant’s classic European cooking is perfectly elegant. The 500-strong wine list and dramatic views over the Huangpu River also do their part to cultivate a welcoming and convivial ambiance.
For a Western restaurant that’s a bit more cutting-edge but hardly less esteemed, Mr & Mrs Bund is another great option. Having racked up plaudits for the cooking (acclaimed French chef Paul Pairet is running the kitchen), it’s at once classical but also experimental, with innovative, eye-catching plating and techniques. The menu includes sure-to-please dishes such as Wagyu ribeye with béarnaise and seared foie gras with pomelo, as well as an extensive Martini menu and 32 wines by the glass. Set within a modern dining room (with jaw-dropping views aplenty), it’s guaranteed to win over guests.
Shanghai is a city of heights, and its fleet of five-star hotels host sky-high bars with views across the modern cityscape (and elevated drinking menus to match). Those looking to entertain professional guests in a memorable setting need only look up to find the ideal spot.
The Park Hyatt, which stretches from floors 79-93 of the Shanghai World Financial Center (currently the city’s second tallest building and often called ‘The Bottle Opener’ because of the distinctively shaped void on top), offers some of the best views of the sprawling city, and at night, when the city is all aglow, it’s without doubt one of the top places in Shanghai to enjoy a drink. Bar Level 87 offers an intimate ambiance, where classic cocktails are prepared with aplomb; the plush Shanghai Lounge is another comfortable option.
A number of other high-end bars (with an emphasis on high) – from Vue Bar at Hyatt on the Bund to Flair at the Ritz-Carlton Pudong – will just as competently impress with wonderful drinks options and incredible vistas. If you’re seeking something especially memorable, though, and perhaps a little entertainment for the evening, the Fairmont Peace Hotel is a highly recommended stop. The legendary Jazz Bar, which evokes the sophisticated ambiance of the 1920s, is home to a jazz band of octogenarians; it’s been a favourite draw for celebrities and even ex-US Presidents the likes of Jimmy Carter. With its private members club atmosphere, it’s an impressive place to cap off an evening out.
Feature image © Liufuyu/iStock/Thinkstock
Have you been to Family Li Imperial Cuisine or any other of these Shanghai restaurants and bars? Where do you entertain clients when you’re in town? Let us know in the comments section below.
Written by Claire Bullen
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About the author: ClaireBullenClaire Bullen
Claire is a born globetrotter: before relocating to London, she spent time in New York, Paris, Philadelphia, Chicago, and San Francisco. When she's not in pursuit of the next exciting meal, she can be found haunting indie bookstores and sketching outdoors. Follow Claire @ClaireMBullen