While the Chinese diet is heavily centered around meats and seafood, the rise of vegetarianism is gaining a stronghold. However, there is much Buddhism fare that is meat-free. Shanghai’s vegetarian restaurants are often religious themed and serve vegetable-based dishes that resemble chicken, duck, pork, beef, and even seafood. Bean curd is a very common meat substitute. These restaurants are also sometimes rustic in theme as a type of simplicity and modesty. See here for our top Shanghai vegetarian restaurants.
One of the earliest vegetarian restaurants in Shanghai, this 3-storey building has it all, with a 140 seat restaurant on the first floor, a private function room on the second and a shrine to Buddha on the third (the vegan food is Buddhist inspired).
Gongdelin is a marvellous restaurant serving Buddhist vegetarian dishes and famous for the "mock meat" - the chefs here use all kinds of vegetables and other natural ingredients to imitate chicken, duck, and fish as well as well as pork and beef. If you love vegetarian food, you should try Gongdelin Vegetarian Restaurant. It is said to be one of the best vegetarian restaurants in China.
This restaurant is in a nice traditional building which makes excellent use of local wood in the décor, stairs and panelling. It specialises in vegetarian dishes (indeed, serves no other), and has an extensive menu of Chinese vegetarian dishes. It also includes menu items that use inventive ways to introduce vegetables or tofu as meat. However, make no mistake; they are all 100% vegetarian.
This restaurant, close to the Yu Yuan Gardens, goes back around 80 years, and has always specialised in excellent vegetarian dishes.
Chunfeng Songyue Lou is one of the best-known and most popular vegetarian restaurants in Shanghai. All the ingredients are carefully selected and checked that there has been no "meat" additive. Dishes are cooked by an experienced master chef who is familiar with the restaurant’s ethos. The top recommended dishes in this restaurant include dry fried beans, stir fried mushrooms, dumplings and noodles and seasonally served moon cakes.
Longhua Restaurant is inside Longhua Temple and provides well-priced, hearty vegetarian food for pilgrims and temple visitors. Buddhist vegetarian food concentrates on three aspects: color, shape and taste and this restaurant specialises in noodles with vegetables and tofu. The flavour is often like meat, but of course there is no meat in any of the dishes. This is a great place to sample real vegetarian food in the religious tradition.
The vegetarian food in Jade Buddha Temple Restaurant is based on a fusion of traditional Buddhist cuisine and modern cooking techniques. Their Buddhist temple-style dishes are generally the traditional sweet sour and spicy flavours.
It gets crowded on the first day and the middle of the lunar month. Restaurant décor is pure and fresh in an elegant and simple style that embodies the advantages of modern architecture combined with the rich flavour of Buddhist culture. The most popular dishes are based on noodles with bamboo shoots, or with mushroom or with cold bean curd (tofu) and different sauces.
This is a part of an upmarket Taiwanese chain, a vegetarian buffet restaurant close by the Longhua Temple, but not part of it. They serve an enormous range of food, with over 200 dishes including Chinese, Japanese, Thai and western style food like vegetable salad, pasta, Haagen-Dazs Ice Cream and other western desserts. Everything is made from healthy vegetarian ingredients including seaweed, Matsutake soup and polygonum multiflorum tea, all of which we recommend that you sample. The seating is comfortable, the décor definitely luxurious, and the restaurant is warm and welcoming. Bon appetit.
The Xinsudai (New Age Veggie) Restaurant serves traditional Chinese vegetarian food as well as vegetarian western dishes. No meat or animal products are used in the food preparation, and the menu falls into three main categories, all vegetarian: Sichuan flavours, unique house specialities including health food and a vegetarian banquet based on menus once used in the royal court. Ishinabe Rice and Vegan Steam Buns are popular, as are the foods that resemble meat but in fact are made from vegetables such as mushrooms, combined with interesting sauces. This is a popular restaurant, and diners tend to linger over their meals, enjoying the atmosphere.
Look out for the famous monk’s inscription, roughly translated “As Early As Vegetarian” as you walk into the restaurant. The décor is simple and elegant, in keeping with its Buddhist ethos. The small square tables and rattan chairs are comfortable, and provide a sense of peace and harmony. The menu changes to make the most of fresh and seasonal ingredients and every month new dishes are introduced, always vegetarian. This restaurant gets many excellent reviews on travel sites, and the wide range of tastes and flavours, along with the pleasant atmosphere definitely deserve them.
Mushrooms and fungus of all sorts are the key ingredient of many dishes here. They are carefully prepared and cooked into some amazing flavours. Mushrooms, course, are a wonderful health food, low calorie and high in vegetable protein, and with near-legendary status for promoting good health and maintaining ideal weight. You will also find plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, and customers enjoy drinking tea in the hall during the afternoon. Although the popular dishes are named after meat or fish, such as shrimp, sweet and sour fish they are made entirely from vegetables.
The restaurant is also known as "Lucky Zen", and the interior is simple, pleasant and relaxing. Ji Xiang Cao can be translated as "lucky grass", with grass symbolising vegetarianism and good health. This is a restaurant that concentrates on light and healthy vegetable dishes with few "mock meats". Their dishes are balanced and full of flavour and reasonably priced. Try the black pepper mushrooms, or spicy variations on traditional Chinese dishes.
This delightful vegetarian restaurant stays with its original philosophy to serve excellent food that respects the ingredients. The bread and noodles are made in house, and strict attention is paid to their quality. Snack foods, such as pita bread with various fillings and other Chinese vegetarian snacks are sold here, and there are no imitation meat dishes. The menu changes seasonally and sources the best available.
In accordance with its Buddhist philosophy they serve beautiful teas, and can also blend various leaves and herbs based on Chinese medicine for a hot drink that is both tasty and beneficial. Other drinks include fruit juices and soy milk that they flavour themselves. The restaurant decorates as simple and elegant, with the classical music. The menu is handwritten, delicate music plays quietly in the background, and the surroundings are delightful.