The hottest bars, restaurants and cafés in Shanghai this January

From '80s throwback cocktail bars to acclaimed Sri Lankan crab to the Olive Garden of seafood restaurants, here's everywhere to check out this month

Photograph: courtesy Red Lobster
Never the liveliest of months, January, is it? The last stretch of 2018 was packed however, with new restaurants and bars now finally hitting their stride. From an iconic American seafood chain to the revival of a grungy, very loveable punk rock bar to a special GOAT menu from one of 2018's best openings, here are the hottest places to check out this month.

Diantaixiang (电台巷火锅)

Have you ever thought that you’d like to wait four hours for hotpot? If so, then this one’s for you. Besides massively long queues since opening in the early autumn, this hip Chengdu brand has brought its mouth-numbing, tongue-tingling mala hotpot to Hongkou. The vibe is distinctly Chinese retro – green-and-white tiled interior, sturdy metal stool set around tidy hotpot tables and harsh overhead lighting. Besides the usual hotpot suspects, try the restaurant’s house specialities: handmade brown sugar mocha and brown sugar jelly.

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444 Jiangwan Dong Lu

Ministry of Crab

Nestled in the greenery of People's Park, on the ground floor of Barbarossa, comes an outpost of Sri Lankan restaurant Ministry of Crab. The World's 50 Best Restaurant-ranked eatery serves exactly what you'd expect – crab – in prodigious quantities and varied styles. Choose your size of crab (from a half-kilo to 2kg, depending on availability) and treatments like curry, black pepper or garlic chilli. It's all about the luscious sauces here, so drop your carb fears and mop the hell out of the remainders with bread. Go for lunch when the glassed-in dining room is bathed in sunlight. 

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231 Nanjing Xi LuOnline booking


Who doesn't love an end-of-the-year list? All this month, one of Shanghai's best new openings from 2018 is doing a recap of their greatest hits from the past year. The GOAT menu offers Bird hits like fried cauliflower with onion puree and a honey miso sauce, rice cakes with bechamel and mozzarella, and make-your-own guabao with red braised pork belly, scallion and apple. Great for anyone who has trouble letting go.

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50 Wuyuan Lu

Stone Brewing Tap Room Shanghai

The California craft brewery has added a smattering of new dishes to its menu and refined its signatures, pairing each dish with a suggestion from the brand's excellent line-up of beers. Get a whole range of vibes from the downright simple (a delightful crispy, fried potato with parmesan and parsley) to turnt-up classics (devilled eggs topped with caviar, crumbles of pancetta and bits of prosciutto) to legit actual dinner (black cod marinated with shiro miso and soy sauce, served with squid ink linguine). A solid casual night out where you can up your beer knowledge in the process.

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1107 Yuyuan LuOnline booking


Specters is back, and with a vengeance. The punk rock bar shuttered at the end of October, only to rise again on New Year's Eve, with a more spacious and polished (if you can believe that) vibe, at its new location on Yuyuan Lu. Expect the same cheap Asahis, ferocious shots of Fireball and killer punk and soul soundtrack.

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753 Yuyuan Lu

The Odd Couple

Retro '80s vibes prevail at this new Xintiandi cocktail bar from power bartender duo Shingo Gokan (Speak Low, Sober Company) and Steve Schneider (of NYC's Employees Only fame). It's all about personality here (and damn fun personality at that), with the menu divided between Gokan and Schneider's creations across flavour themes like citrus, flower, tea and tropical. It's not a cheap night out – drinks start at 110RMB – but expect something thoughtful and with character, like the Sound Off! with Bacardi, Earl Grey, cinnamon and clarified milk.

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No 25, Lane 181 Taicang Lu


Don't expect a quiet night at this intimate, neon-heavy new club. It's an all-arounder, with quaffable cocktails – pineapple-infused gin with Midori and raspberry syrup in the Real Talk, for example – meant to be drunk on the dance floor, which you will find yourself on, and bar food – like a takeaway box that riffs on General Tso's chicken – developed by always-excellent Carlos Sotomayor. The crowd is heavy on bar and restaurant industry folks, meaning everyone is down to party. Expect a mix of house, hip-hop and 'today's hits' to be sipping on your cocktail to.

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688 Shaanxi Bei Lu

Red Lobster

Cheddar Bay Biscuits have landed in Shanghai. In news of big brands you never thought you'd see in China, massive American seafood chain Red Lobster has opened in IFC. Its biscuits have a cult-like following (they have their own Facebook page with nearly a million followers), Beyoncé name-checked the chain in 'Formation', and pretty much every post-80s kid has had a graduation dinner at a Red Lobster. In China, the brand has classed things up a bit with shinier digs but the same signatures like the 'Ultimate Feast' with Maine lobster tail, snow crab legs, garlic scampi and fried shrimp.

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8 Century Avenue

Homeslice Pizza

Homeslice could be on the list every month if we're being honest. But why now? Just before the holidays, the team dropped four new seasonal pizzas that are worth breaking your New Years resolutions for. The Chiang Mai with Sai Ua sausage and roasted green chillies tastes like the holiday in Thailand that's only a CNY away, and guest pizza makers Sean Jorgensen (The Cannery) and Anna Bautista (Highline) really nailed it on the Buffalo Chicken pizza, which comes with ranch dressing – never a bad thing. For a salty punch, tuck into a slice of the Pissaladière pizza with anchovies and Niçoise olives or to keep it real classic, get stuck into the house-made fennel sausage with button and porcini mushrooms alongside kalamata olives.

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158 Julu Lu

Yuxingji (裕兴记)

Suzhou laozihao (‘time-honoured brand’) noodle shop Yuxingji has opened a location in downtown Shanghai. Arguably the most famous of the city’s noodles spots, the brand claims its origins in the 1600s. Fast forward to today and what Yuxingji is best known for are its shrimp noodles and liang mian huang, a fried noodle dish with tiny peeled shrimp and jelly-like pork tendon. Suzhou’s only a fast train away, but even still Shanghai seems thrilled at Yuxingji’s arrival. Go early or risk items being sold out – and prepare yourself for a queue.

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830 Weihai Lu

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