One aspect of China that continually amazes is the diversity between regions. This is perhaps most easily demonstrated when you consider the variety of cuisines that are available around the country. Fortunately for us, most of these foods are available right here in Shanghai which simultaneously saves us all a trek and satisfies our taste buds. One of the most unique, and oftentimes underrated, cuisines has got to be Yunnan. Similar to its neighboring Sichuan in some ways (ie: tongue-numbing peppercorns), Yunnan cuisine is known for its fresh produce-heavy dishes and overall earthy flavors. Read on for some of Shanghai’s best Yunnan restaurants, and feel free to chime in with your own favorites in the comments section below.
1) Lotus EateryView In Map
This tiny, colorful restaurant packs big flavor into its small size. Expect the usual Yunnan cuisine at Lotus Eatery, which includes a variety of mushroom based dishes and the delicious fried goat cheese with a side of spiced salt. For the more adventurous, there are a few dishes that revolve around insects. And for those who miss a taste of home? Try their comforting twist on mashed potatoes, which will just about blow your mind. The place gets crowded fairly quickly, though, so make sure you get there early – especially if you’re expecting a large party.
Add: 85 Yangzhai Lu, near Xinhua Lu (branch), Shanghai
Tel: 021 6282 7756
Opening hours: Daily, 11:00-23:00
2) Lost HeavenView In Map
Everyone’s favorite date restaurant (especially the Bund location!), Lost Heaven is dark, dramatic, and downright delicious. Yes, it’s a bit pricier but keep in mind that you’re paying for the atmosphere as well. The food itself is worth a visit as well, especially their chicken with spring onion and Burmese tea leaf salad. Really, though, it’s hard to go wrong when you order here! Just make sure to order one of their craft cocktails, created especially to pair well with most menu items.
Add: 17 Yan'an Dong Lu, near Sichuan Nan Lu (branch), Shanghai
Tel: 021 6330 0967
Opening hours: Daily, 12:00-14:00 & 17:30-22:30; Lounge, 18:00-02:00
3) Legend TasteView In Map
This is the place to go if your favorite thing about Yunnan cuisine is the spice. Specifically billed as a “northern Yunnan” restaurant, Legend Taste specializes in Dai dishes that feature a lot of seafood and vegetables, like their famous shrimp in chrysanthemum sauce. Their spicy beef in lettuce wraps rivals the better known Thai version, and pretty much hits it out of the park. Whatever dishes you wind up ordering, just be sure and order a cup of the house tea that’s blended to perfection within the restaurant every day.
Add: 1025 Kangding Lu, near Wuning Lu, Shanghai
Tel: 021 5228 9961
Opening hours: 11:00-14:00 & 17:00-23:00
4) Bao Xiang ChuanView In Map
Famous for their succulent meat kebabs, Bao Xiang Chuan serves up a mean cumin lamb (seriously, it rivals some of the best Xinjiang lamb I’ve had in the city). Smothered in those mysterious herbs and spices that one must only assume contains some sort of illegal drug, the meat skewers are worth a visit all on their own. Once you’re there, however, you might as well try their other trademark dish, namely deep fried grasshoppers. This is a great place to take a crowd, as the menu offers a bit of something for everyone.
Add: 428 Tianshan Xi Lu, Changning District, Shanghai
Tel: 021 6239 8262
Opening hours: 10:30-01:00
5) Southern BarbarianView In Map
And last but not least, we come to arguably Shanghai’s most famous Yunnan restaurant, Southern Barbarian. While they may have been made famous for their mind bogglingly large beer selection, customers who have tasted their varied and always interesting dishes keep coming back for the food. In what could possibly be one of the most ironic (and tragic) dishes in history, their honey-soaked deep fried honeybees are surprisingly tasty… and crunchy. Add to that a killer goat cheese platter and some impressively spicy chicken wings, and you’ve got a definite winner on your hands.
Add: Ju'Roshine Life Arts Space, 2/F, 169 Jinxian Lu, near Maoming Nan Lu, Shanghai
Tel: 021 5157 5510
Opening hours: Daily, 11:00-14:00 & 17:00-23:00
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Keywords: Yunnan restaurants in Shanghai
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