Just because cheese is not a staple in China like it is in the west doesn’t mean it’s hard to find in Shanghai. In fact, thanks to the city’s colonial history, cheese has become a larger part of the local culture here than it has in the country as a whole. Whether it be a restaurant that offers cheese plates and melted goodness or a grocery store that specializes in the best imports, Shanghai has all your cheese cravings covered.
La Formaggeria is the only dedicated cheese seller in Shanghai. This Italian-born shop specializes in Gran Moravia but offers a variety of cheeses off the wheel as well as some that come prepackaged. If you’re not sure which cheese to buy, feel free to partake in the samples that are available all day. The prices are reasonable considering all of the cheese are imported. Expect to pay between RMB20 ($2.90) and RMB60 ($8.70) per gram. Delivery is available for orders over RMB200 ($30).
Formerly located on now-defunct bar street Yongkang Rd, Funkadeli transformed itself when it moved to its new home. What was once a little Italian imports deli has become one of the most vibrant nightlife spots in the French Concession. On a cold day, you can find expats huddled around the outdoor heat lamps as the party rages on inside. The deli hasn’t forgotten its roots, though, still making terrific sandwiches and offering well-priced cheese and charcuterie boards. It’s just leveled up.
What started out as a hole-in-the-wall produce shop transformed into one of the French Concession’s most popular import stores when owner Jiang Qin smartly began carrying avocados. At the time, avocados were a near mythical commodity in Shanghai, so foreigners began flocking to Jiang’s store, bestowing upon her the moniker “Avocado Lady” and urban legend status. Now, years later, Jiang is still at the top of her game, carrying imported cheeses, beers, and vegetables that are difficult to find elsewhere. And if she doesn’t have it, she’ll order it.
If Co. Cheese isn’t one of the first restaurants you hear about in Shanghai, you’re doing it wrong. This beloved little melt bar makes the best grilled cheese sandwich you’ll ever have. Choose from fillings such as Mac and Cheese, turkey and mashed potatoes, duck and brie, or Chinese style braised meat. A small sandwich is just RMB50 ($7), and at lunch that comes with a free side of tomato soup. Just what the doctor ordered.
Tucked away down an unremarkable lane in Xujiahui, Hunkeler Swiss Restaurant goes unnoticed by much of the expat population. Of course, just because it’s hard to find doesn’t mean it’s not good. The German owner and his Chinese wife run a friendly restaurant that offers up Swiss classics like schnitzel, rösti, and wurst. While the mains are worthy in their own right, the stars of any meal at Hunkeler are the fondue and raclette. On the fondue front, choose from a two or four person set to share, or go for the more a la carte style raclette.
Another hidden gem is found at SML on tiny Huating Rd. This Italian restaurant draws a primarily Italian expat crowd due to its cozy atmosphere and authentic eats, including the unmissable cheese plates. Plenty of the dishes themselves contain cheese, like the pizzas and pastas, but it is the truffle gnocchi that will have you coming back for more.
Le Bistro du Dr. Wine
One of the best wine bars in Shanghai, Le Bistro du Dr. Wine is also a great option for cheese in the city. RMB198 ($29) will get you a selection of three cheeses and three meats that pair great with any of the long list of wines on offer. Bottle prices start at the very reasonable RMB118 ($17) and go up to prices that only a true wine connoisseur could stomach; however, all the wines are directly imported, meaning that you’re likely to get the best prices here.
Epermarket is not the only online supermarket that caters to foreigners in Shanghai, but it is arguably the best. On the cheese front, you can choose from a large variety of imported favorites like babybel (RMB36 for 110g) or raclette (RMB1064 for 3000g) and easily find anything you want, with selections sorted by origin, brand, and type. Fondue and raclette dinner party sets are available as well for RMB1218 ($177) and RMB1105 ($160), respectively.