11 Unique Dining Experiences in Shanghai

Ultraviolet | ©Marc van der Chijs/Flickr
Ultraviolet | ©Marc van der Chijs/Flickr
Photo of Rachel Deason
24 June 2019

Shanghai may have just entered the Michelin Guide game, but it has spent years developing its status as a world-class culinary city. But forget about the fine dining for a moment. Let’s focus on fun dining. From themed cafes to creepy crawly cuisine, here are 12 places to get a unique dining experience in Shanghai.

Ultraviolet

Restaurant, Contemporary, French, Fusion
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Ultraviolet is not only the most unique dining experience in Shanghai, it may very well be the most unique dining experience the world over. This high-concept restaurant admits only ten guests each night for a multi-sensory dining experience that combines sight, sound, and smell with taste. Creator Paul Pairet has artfully engineered every second of the dinner to make sure that the food tastes as good as it possibly can.

Hello Kitty Bistro Bianco

Cafe, Restaurant, Tea , Dessert
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Shanghai wouldn’t be Shanghai without a handful of cutesy themed cafes. The latest, and perhaps most popular, to hit the city is dedicated to the Sanrio-brand global sensation Hello Kitty. At Bistro Bianco you will find the little cat girl’s biggest fans, as well as her likeness on everything from the mugs to tiramisu.

Hai Di Lao

Restaurant, Chinese, $$$
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Sichuanese hotpot has all but become synonymous with Hai Di Lao, the popular chain that has spread all around the world. What makes it such a unique dining experience isn’t so much the food but the service. As soon as you step in the door, you will be waited on hand and foot, from the optional manicure and massage service while you wait for your table to the hot towels that are passed around every few minutes.

More Than Toilet

Cafe, Restaurant, Contemporary
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Welcome to More Than Toilet restaurant, where crap food doesn’t have to taste bad! The concept of a toilet-themed restaurant originated in Taiwan, but has since become popular throughout Asia. Shanghai’s More Than Toilet serves up standard Chinese cafe fare like pizza and pasta and specializes in squat potty bowls full of poop-shaped ice cream.

Pyongyang Koryo

Restaurant, Korean
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Pyongyang Koryo is as close to North Korea as you can get without actually going to North Korea. The food is surprisingly delicious, and the waitstaff is made up entirely of beautiful North Korean woman, who play double duty to put on a nightly 7 o’clock performance. The experience is bizarre, to say the least, and an absolute must-do in Shanghai.

The Ramen Vending Machine

Food Vending Machine, Ramen
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Okay, so Shanghai’s ramen vending machine is less of a dining experience and more of a kitschy grab-and-go situation, but it certainly is unique. Shanghai has its fair share of bizarre vending machines: medicine, orange juice, sex toys, produce. This one is located in the basement of the mall next to Jing’an Temple.

The Muslim Market

Market, Chinese
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The Muslim Market is one of Shanghai’s hidden gems. Every Friday afternoon before services at the nearby Huxi Mosque, local Uyghur Muslims gather to share the most flavorful halal treats with the city. From high quality lamb kebabs to milky layer cakes, there’s nothing that won’t please the taste buds here. And if you’re in the market for an entire lamb carcass, they sell those too.

Golden Dragon Snake Cuisine

Restaurant, Chinese
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Golden Dragon is not your average hotpot restaurant. Instead of bringing out plates of raw lamb or beef, Golden Dragon dishes out plates of raw snake. You then get to cook it yourself in snake broth mixed with snake blood and bile. Many cultures believe in the restorative powers of these ingredients, so though you may wince at the thought of them, but they might just do you good.

These recommendations were updated on June 24, 2019 to keep your travel plans fresh.