Top 10 Vegetarian Restaurants in Shanghai
Whether you're a resident of Shanghai or just touring the city, you will find numerous restaurants that serve food especially for vegans (vegetarians). Typical entrées served in these eateries include soups, salads, noodles, salmon, sushi, burgers, desserts, and much, much more. The selection of food is often astounding, giving vegans a great choice of foods to choose from.
Attributes of Vegan Restaurants
There are three major differences between American restaurants and vegetarian restaurants in Shanghai: meat substitutes, quality of service, and the dining environment.
First, some vegan restaurants avoid using meats and animal products in most or all of their dishes. For those who love meats (as fish, chicken kebab, pork, etc), but must not consume them, can enjoy “mock meat” dishes. Vegan diners have highly skilled chefs whom prepare meat imitations that have the actual tastes and textures of meat, but are based on natural ingredients. So well skilled in fact, unsuspecting customers may believe they're really eating meat when they're not.
Second, is the quality of service. Some restaurants go the extra mile to be supportive towards American tourists, others do not. Hence, it is best to find an eatery that has a menu in English as well English speaking waiters/waitresses. Picture menus work great, but better yet, self-serve buffet style restaurants are ideal for choosing only the dishes you want. While some of the staff are friendly and helpful, others may not be.
Third, the décor and furniture may vary greatly from one restaurant to another. If the dining room's appearance is an issue, you will definitely want to become familiar with each diner you consider eating at. Therefore, we compiled information on ten great vegetarian restaurants in Shanghai to save you, the tourist from unpleasant surprises you may encounter (as high prices or poor service) by choosing random diners.
Finally, prices on menus are listed in Renminbis (RMBs – pronounced simply as “ar em bees”) and hence are denoted with the ¥ symbol or expressed in yuans (pronounced “you ons”) and with the CNY notation.
Ten Popular Vegan Restaurants
Chunfeng Songyue Lou Restaurant
Sometimes referred to as the Songyue Lou, this restaurant was originally established in the second year of the Qing Dynasty Emperor Xuangtong, 1910. It serves Yuyuan veggie favorites, traditionally served in an ancient vegetarian culture. The Songyue Lou has multiple locations as inside the Yuyuan Garden Bazzar and the Old Town God Temple. Also, it is a much enticing place for visitors who have just finished touring the temple. This restaurant seats 150.
- Specialties: It serves vegetarian dishes, noodles and snacks. The vegetable stuffed buns and eight treasures in hot sauce are highly recommended. Its vegetarian food comes in three types: traditional cuisine, health care cuisine, and the popular Shanghai cuisine. Additionally, there are 100 other dishes to choose from.
- Average cost per person: CNY 20 – 60
- Address: Chenghuang Temple: 23 Bailin Road,No. 99, Jiujiaochang Road, Huangpu District
- Hours: 6:30 am – 8:00 pm
Gong De Lin
The Gong De Lin, often referred to the Godly Vegetarian Restaurant opened in 1922 and is now known as the oldest vegetarian eatery in Shanghai. This two-story palace is a pleasing and quiet place, decorated in a traditional Chinese style, including a large fountain, small corner gazebos, mahogany furniture, and an altar that honors Buddha. It is especially popular to seniors who maintain a meat-free diet.
- Specialties: You are recommended to taste the maigre duck, tofu with crab meat, Godly chow mien and fried fish slices with distilled grains sauce. Other popular choices are slightly sweetened tofu skin cooked like a BBQ duck, Jumping Over the Wall soup, and a broth containing bamboo shoots, shitake, and white mushrooms.
- Average cost per person: CNY 40 – 120
- Address: People's Square: 445 Nanjing Xi Lu, near Chengdu Lu in Shanghai
- Life Hub @ Jinqiao branch: No. 309, building no. 8, Life Hub @ Jinqiao, No. 3611, Zhangyang Road, Pudong New Area
- Hours: 10:00 am – 9:00 pm
Opened in May of 2013, the iVegan established its roots in the Buddhist culture and tradition. What makes its cuisine unique is some of the ingredients of the dishes are cooked to simulate the taste and texture of meat. In fact, their art in meat imitation is so great, some customers would never suspect this.
- Specialties: The dishes here are very delicious so that people usually need to wait in line, but hopefully not for long. You are recommended to taste the shish kebab with cumin, which actually is made from vegan materials. Chinese yam with blueberry sauce is also its signature dish. Common side orders are:
- Green soy bean, fiery hot peppers with vegan fish
- Vegan sweet and sour pork ribs
- Vegan lamb kebab
- Vegan chicken with peanuts and chili peppers
- Cold cashew in orange sauce
- Average cost per person: CNY 50 – 100. Above side dishes between 18 and 40 RMBs).
- Address: No. 87, Songlin Road, Pudong New Area (between Zhangyang Road and Shangcheng Road)
- Hours: 11:00 am – 2:00 pm, 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm daily
Jade Buddha Temple Vegetarian Restaurants
Their vegetarian food is based on a mix of traditional Buddhist cuisine along with modern cooking techniques and are composed of sweet, sour, and spicy flavors. After touring the Jade Buddha Temple, there is no place more ideal than taking in some vegan dining here.
- Specialties: Jades mainly serves noodles, a variety of vegetable dishes along with snacks. Basic ingredients in their popular dishes include noodles with bamboo shoots, or with mushroom or with cold bean curd (tofu) served with a variety of sauces. Also, they serve plain noodles or noodles with double-sort mushrooms. However, if this what you truly want, you may have to wait in line.
- Average cost per person: CNY 15 – 80
- Address: No. 999 Jiangning Road, Putuo District by Anyuan Road
- Hours: 6:30 am – 8:30 pm (the last order must be placed no later than 8:00 pm)
Longhua Temple Vegetarian Restaurant
Located in the Longhua Hotel, this restaurant is a buffet that is mainly focused on upscale dining. Its dining room consists of tables covered with white tablecloths, chafing dishes, and wait staff dressed in tuxedos. Its many buffet tables host an extremely huge variety of foods that nobody can try everything on a single visit.
- Specialties: Longhua is most noted for its tasty vegetarian noodles. The duck, chicken and ham are also delicious. In addition, it sells some packaged vegan products. Along with numerous styles of vegetarian foods, there is a noodle soup bar (allowing each diner to choose their own ingredients to add to their soup), salad bar, Korean barbecue section, Japanese sushi buffet, dessert bar, ice cream freezer, and beverages including coffee, tea, frozen slushies, and non-alcoholic beer.
- Average cost per person: CNY 15 – 50 or about $25.00 – its alcoholic bar is extra.
- Address: inside the Longhua Hotel, 2787 Longhua Road, Xuhui District
- Hours: Mon – Sun: 11:30 am - 2:30 pm, 5:30 pm – 9:30 pm
- Comments: This buffet is expensive and best suited for the more affluent diners.
Ji Xiang Cao (Lucky Zen) Vegetarian Restaurant
The Ji Xiang Cao offers a comfortable and peaceful dining room. Its selections are Chinese foods that are cooked home style to be healthier and lighter than most other vegetarian restaurants. Hence, you are assured of fine cooked food that is not excessively oily. Menus are available in English also. While you're waiting for a table or after dining, you may want to check out their selection of books, candies, and antique reproductions which are for sale as well.
- Specialties: It is exquisitely decorated to show a pleasant environment for the diners. Dishes served are mainly made of mushrooms. One popular dish is the tofu with green gravy. There are few dishes that contain mock meats.
- Average price range: 75 – 120 RMBs depending on dishes ordered.
- Address: 2F, Madang Road, Luwan District, Luwan District (near Hefei Road)
- Hours: Tue – Sun: 10:00 am – 9:30 pm, closed on Mon
- Comments: This restaurant is moderately priced as compared to others in the Xintiandi community. Waiting times are typically 15 to 30 minutes but can be longer when the place is packed.
New Age Veggie
Opened in 2007, New Age Veggie strives to maintain a reputation of preparing food without meat, animal products, pungent plants, or preservatives. For example, there are no eggs in its cakes or meat in its salmon sashimi. However, New Age can imitate meat sides quite well. In fact, they've fooled past customers into thinking that their meat entrees were real.
- Specialties: The decoration of this restaurant definitely shows the vegetarian culture. Dishes here that taste good include Bibimbap, eggless veggie cake and vegan steak. For years, New Age Veggie keeps the convention of no wine, no smoking, no meat, no egg and no spicy & hot flavor to attract many vegans.
Popular entrees with approximate prices (entrees and prices may vary from the time of this writing):
- Fried Veggie Rock Fish 68 RMB
- Veggie Abalone 38 RMB
- Veggie Chicken Skewer 42 RMB
- Italian Pizza (9 inch) 48 RMB
- Veggie Salmon Sashimi 42 RMB
- Address: 168 Lujiazui W Rd, Pudong, Shanghai
- Operating hours: call for hours - +86 21 5047 1880
Pure & Whole
Established in 2011, Pure & Whole has offered a delicious range of plant-based, ultra-healthy burgers, entrées, salads, soups, wraps, and more. Each dish and drink has been thoughtfully prepared with the most nutritional ingredients available to assure you will feel your best after you leave.
- Specialties: This is a western style vegetarian restaurant with entrées containing mainly organic vegetables and fruits. You absolutely must try the matchstick spaghetti, natural salad, spring rolls, and vegan hamburger.
- Average cost per person: CNY 70 – 150
- Address: 98, Yanping Raod 160 Long No 1 Jingan Qu, Shanghai Shi
Kerry Parkside branch: Room no. B111, Kerry Parkside, No. 1378, Huamu Road, Pudong New Area
- Hours: 11:30 am – 9:30 pm daily
Vegetarian Life Style
The Vegetarian Lifestyle, restaurant goes by other names as Zaozi Shu orJujube Tree. Detoxify with a vegetarian feast here as the prices are reasonable, the service is good, and the environment is clean. This is a non-smoking eatery that does not serve alcohol. Its Yuanshen Sports Center branch also offers delivery service.
- Specialties: This restaurant serves tasty and healthy vegetarian food without MSG. Jujube jelly and Chang Xiang Si (eternal love), a sausage-like dish, are worth trying. Specialties include their delicious mock-meat dishes, ginger fried “chicken”, delicious spinach dumplings, and meat-flavored vegetarian dishes such as the Saysade.
- Average cost per person: CNY 50 – 120
- Address: Jiangning branch: No. 258, Fengxian Road, Jing'an District (the intersection with Nanhui Road)
- Address: Huaihai branch: 1F, Shanghai Palace, No. 77, Songshan Road, Huangpu District (near Middle Huaihai Road)
- Operating hours: 10:30 am – 9:30 pm
With only two outdoor tables, this cafe doesn't offer much for onsite dining. However, its selection is great. Free delivery is available for customers located within a one kilometer driving radius and place a minimum order of 50 RMBs.
Specialties: This restaurant is exquisitely decorated, showing a purple hue. Mexican Tostada, Italian vegetable soup and VeggieDot special baked lavender rice are worth trying. Sandwiches and wraps, such as the Italian BBQ Panini (39 RMB) with 'veggie beef' patty, grilled peppers, tomato, mushroom and barbecue sauce, are served with a side dish of fresh seasonal fruits, while other dishes include a 'Veggie Chicken Salad' (23 RMB), Classic Hot Dog (18 RMB) with 'veggie sausage', and “Veggie Sheep Kebab” (18 RMB/three). Lunch sets that include a sandwich or wrap, salad, and fresh fruits are available from 37 RMB.On the drinks side, there's a host of fresh juice options (from 18 RMB) along with combos that promise to 'speed up metabolism', 'improve sleeping quality' and give you 'younger looking skin'.
- Average cost per person: CNY 50 – 120
- English Address: Bldg 3, Lane 278, Xiangyang Nan Lu, near Yongkang Lu, Xuhui district
- Chinese Address: No. 1196, West Beijing Road, Jing’an District
- Hours: 11:00 am – 8:30 pm daily.
Overall, Shanghai offers a great selection of vegetarian restaurants. The variety of foods to choose from is immense since a great majority of its residents are vegans. So, if you feel that vegetarians have limited diets, think again. Perhaps, you may run across some foods in Shanghai that may be hard to find in the US. And if you become tired of one particular vegan restaurant, there are many more to choose from.
Best of all, the more vegan meals you consume, the more your body can detoxify. Likewise, these foods promote good health as you will feel younger and more energetic afterwards. So, if you thought eating healthy was drab and tasteless, think again.