What are the best traditional restaurants near Yu Garden in Shanghai? The area around Yu Garden is a major commercial centre featuring many local shops, restaurants, street stalls, shopping malls, and local markets. It is a nice place to get some bargain deals, as well as to taste some traditional food. In this post, several traditional restaurants near Yu Garden are introduced. They are all well-known among the locals.
The best traditional restaurants near Yu Garden
Restaurants near Yu Garden offer many tasty traditional Shanghainese food. They reflect one side of the Shanghai traditional lifestyle. Each of them has a story and a piece of unusual history.
- Huxin Pavilion (湖心亭茶楼), 257 Yu Yuan Rd. Shanghai (上海豫园路257号)
- Nanxiang Steamed Bun Restaurant (南翔馒头店), 85 Yu Yuan Rd. Shanghai (上海豫园路85号)
- Ningbo Tangtuan Shop(宁波汤团店), Yuyuan New Rd, (上海豫园老街104号)
- Lü Bo Lang (绿波廊), Yuyuan New Rd, Shanghai (上海文昌路10号)
- Chunfeng Songyue Lou(春风松月楼), 23 BaiLing Rd. Shanghai, China (百翎路23号)
- Shanghai Lao Fan Dian (上海老饭店), 242 Fuyou Rd. Shanghai (福佑路242号)
Huxin Pavilion (湖心亭茶楼)
One of the first traditional restaurants near Yu Garden is Huxin Pavilion. It is the oldest and most famous tea house in Shanghai. Huxin Pavilion is also one of the existing ancient architectural landscapes and one of the earliest commercial chambers in Shanghai.
First built in 1784, it only became a teahouse in 1855. Situated at the center of the Zigzag Bridge (九曲桥) over the lotus pond outside the Yuyuan Garden, the tea house has a long history attracting many political leaders and celebrities from all over the world. For example, it has hosted Queen Elizabeth II on behalf of the city of Shanghai.
The Afternoon tea is in a typical Chinese style. Many renowned teas, such as West Lake Longjing, Anji White Tea, Oolong Tea, Qimen Black Tea, Biluochun, Pu’er Tea, and Taiwan Oolong are available. But the best view is from upstairs. Find yourself a seat upstairs and order a pot of a high-class tea, you can have a break after your visit to the Yu Garden or join the crowds again afterward. Locals will also order several snacks such as small glutinous rice dumplings to accompany the tea.
Nanxiang Steamed Bun Restaurant (南翔馒头店)
This restaurant mainly sells the Nanxiang Steamed Buns. It is located next to Zigzag Bridge (九曲桥). In 1900, the founder Wu Xiangsheng, who had the original restaurant in Nanxiang, Jiading, spotted that many people came here to pray in the temple nearby. As a businessman, he saw this was a great chance to expand his store to this location.
Later, he supplied his buns to the nearby tea houses. The guests in those tea houses enjoyed eating his steamed buns as snacks while drinking a pot of tea.
Sometimes, locals also name the food as Steamed Soup Buns (小笼汤包). The jelly broth is part of the fillings. When the buns are steamed, the jelly broth is melted and turns into soup. The pastry of this type of steamed bun is made from a mix of types of flour. Every 100-gram flour is made into 20 small doughs. Each steamed bun looks like a small pagoda. Nowadays, the restaurant also sells steamed buns with different fillings. It is a usual scene that locals and tourists queue in front of the store.
Ningbo Tangtuan Shop(宁波汤团店)
Tangtuan (汤团), also called Tangyuan, is a type of glutinous rice balls. It is the main food sold in this restaurant. It looks like Gnocchi and is a type of snack originally from Ningbo, Zhejiang Province.
The glutinous rice balls is traditionally served during festivals such as winter solstice and on the last day Chinese New Year celebration known as Lantern Festival (元宵节). That is why it has another Chinese name, Yuanxiao (元宵). Nowadays, Tangtuan are also served year-round as breakfast, dessert, or snack.
Tangtuan sold in the shop has a round shape. They symbolize the happiness and the unification of the families during the Chinese New Year. It can be in different size. These boiled rice balls are stuffed with all kinds of sweet and meat fillings. But the typical filing is the mixture of black sesame paste and pork lard.
Lü Bo Lang (绿波廊)
Lü Bo Lang is right next to the Zigzag Bridge (九曲桥). The three-story building has an architectural style of Ming and Qing Dynasties and is in harmony with the artificial lake and its pavilion. Lü Bo Lang has hosted many celebrities, such as the former US President Bill Clinton, Queen Elizabeth, Japanese Prime Minister Takeshita, Prime Minister of Iceland, and Australian Prime Minister.
It is famous for its Shanghai-style of snacks. Its snacks are fresh, each in small size, and beautifully shaped. One of the common snacks locals like to order is Pan-Fried turnip Cake (萝卜丝酥饼). The main ingredients are grated turnips, dried shrimp, mushrooms and little spring onions. Another one is Crispy Jujube Cake (枣泥酥饼), whose main ingredient is jujube paste.
The restaurant also offers Shanghai traditional dishes. Some of its dishes use made from crab meats. The location is absolutely the best. If possible, you should try some food when you are in the area. It is one of the traditional restaurants near Yu Garden whose name is famous both domestic as well as international.
Chunfeng Songyue Lou(春风松月楼)
Founded in 1910, this is the oldest vegetarian restaurant in Shanghai. When the owner Xu Huijia was a young man, he was an apprentice and learned how to cook vegetarian dishes. After he had gained enough experience, he opened his own restaurant. He did nearly everything personally, from selecting the raw materials, controlling the quality of the food, and cooking. Soon, his restaurant attracted many elites who became his long term customers.
The common ingredients used in the dishes are Toufu, mushrooms, bamboos and other usual vegetables. Soy protein is mainly used to resembles the meaty texture. Another type of substitute is the wheat gluten, which has a stretchy texture that can be easily altered to get the chewiness of meat.
Some of the Shanghai traditional dishes in vegetarian versions are available from the menu. One of the popular snacks is the vegetarian steamed buns, Su Cai Bao Zi (素菜包子). The fillings consist such as Shanghai green vegetables, mushrooms, bamboos, flavored beancurd, and wheat gluten. The steamed Bao Zi tastes fresh and looks emerald inside. It is cheap, but delicious.
It is quite usual that locals buy some ready-made dishes and eat at home during their family meals. That`s why on the ground floor there is the takeaway area. The food is not expansive but has authentic tastes. Upstairs is the seating area where you can order the dishes and eat there.
Shanghai Lao Fandian (上海老饭店)
Founded in 1875, the restaurant is more than a century old. The founder, Zhang Huanying from Pudong Chuansha, was originally a chef. In 1875, he rented a small house not far from the current location and opened a small restaurant named Rongshun Restaurant. Zhang himself cooked the dishes, and his wife served the dishes. Although it was only a small eatery, he offered some authentic Shanghainese home-style dishes. Soon it became popular in the neighbourhood. Later, he renamed the restaurant into Lao Fandian (老饭店).
Shanghai Lao Fandian’s signature dish is Ba Bao Ya (八宝鸭), Eight Treasure Duck. The duck is stuffed with eight types of ingredients, lean pork, bamboos, gingko nut, dried chestnut, lotus seeds, dried shrimps, dried mushrooms and jujubes. To soak the duck fat, chef will stuff the glutinous rice inside the duck. The stuffed duck will be steamed for a couple of hours so the duck meat tastes soft and tender. And, the charcoal flavour of the duck symbolizes its signature status.
Another traditional Shanghainese dish is Flash fried river shrimp (油爆河虾). The cooking ingredients are, small shrimps from the rivers, vinegar, sugar, salt, soy sauce, spring onions, ginger, cooking oil and cooking wine. But it requires skills to cook because the shrimps’ shell must be crispy. You can eat the shells if you cannot use mouth to take them out, while all Shanghainese can.
It offers good food quality, good service, and a bilingual menu. If you are seeking affordable, authentic Shanghainese cuisine, Lao Fandian is the place to go.
Join a food tour
These restaurants near Yu Garden are very traditional and can be easily found if you visit the area, for example, the Bund, or Waitan(外滩). However, if you don’t visit Yu Garden, you can also combine other sights with a food tasting tour. There are many tours tailored for your need. The following selected food tours provide interesting and uniquely local experience: