My Top Twenty

+ It's tough to choose the best out of 180,000 restaurants in Shanghai but here are some I return to again and again. If it's on this list, it's worth a taxi ride, if not a plane trip. +

1. Yang's Dumplings (Shanghainese street food). Order: shengjian

2. Fu 1039 (Exquisite Shanghainese). Order: smoked fish (xun yu), crispy eel appetizer, tea smoked duck

3. Shanghai Science Hall JE (Historic mansions serving classic Shanghainese). Order: roast duck (reserve your duck in advance!)

4. Fu He Hui (Haute vegetarian in a formal, zen atmosphere). Order: the 380RMB set

5. WUJIE (Clean, beautiful vegetarian). Order: mapo tofu, fuqi feipian, mountain yam tiramisu

6. Hengshan Cafe (Cantonese homestyle classics). Order: roast goose

7. Shu Fu (Sichuan homestyle food, tacky decor). Order: cumin ribs, water boiled chili fish (shuizhuyu)

8. Holy Cow (Fresh beef hotpot). Order: beef, crispy tofu skin, mushrooms, fresh vegetables (full disclosure, I'm married to the owner!)

9. PELIKAN (modern Nordic cuisine). Order: charred beets, juicy pork with mushrooms, cocktails

10. Rui Fu Yuan (Shanghai classics, where local families eat celebratory dinners). Order: hongshao rou, lion's head meatball, crispy corn pancake

11. Charmant (Taiwanese, all-day and all-night diner). Order: Pineapple, shrimp and youtiao, dragon beans, peanut smoothie

12. Spice Spirit (Sichuan, fancy mall dining). Order: chili oil catfish, pickled peppers with chicken

13. Food Fusion (Casual, delicious Southeast Asian). Order: beef rendang, yellow curry chicken with roti

14. Benjia (Extraordinary Korean barbecue). Order: Fatty beef, jap chae

15. Wan Dao (Japanese sushi, sashimi and more, by the boatful). Order: All-you-can-eat 380RMB dinner set. Make sure to book in advance.

16. Jing Cai Xuan (refined Cantonese, stunning decor though in a mall). Order: dim sum. Make sure to book in advance.

17. Wang Ji Scallion Pancake (teeny tiny street-side stand, blink and you'll miss it). Order: scallion pancake

18. Miss Ali (modernized rustic Xinjiang cuisine). Order: lamb skewers, cold noodle salad, lamb meat pies

19. Ultraviolet (surrealist one-table restaurant which will blow your mind and your wallet). Order: UVA, UVB or UVC (book three months in advance)

20. Shanghai Chic (Shanghainese, fancy mall dining). Order: hongshao pork, crab roe tofu (xiefen doufu)