A brief look at the top 10 restaurants in Shanghai reveals cuisine to suit all tastes across the price spectrum Shanghai is a gourmet's paradise, and over the past decade the city has undergone a veritable culinary renaissance. Gone are the days when eating out meant a tedious choice between rice, noodles and whatever meat happened to be available. Shanghai now ranks up there with New York, Hong Kong and - dare we say it - Paris, as a city where anyone with a passion for cuisine can be satisfied. There are many driving forces behind the culinary resurgence. Of all of China's cities, Shanghai has most enthusiastically allowed itself to be influenced by the best aspects of foreign cultures embracing these divergent elements as its own. And this accounts for the popularity of fusion restaurants that offer a melange of cuisines from opposite ends of China - and the world. Then there is the natural tendency of the Shanghainese to be ahead of the cultural curve, which makes its chefs more willing to experiment with new concepts than they might be in a city with more traditional tastes. The dish most closely associated with the Pearl of the Orient is hairy freshwater crabs that come into season next month. Compiling a list of Shanghai's 10 best restaurants is a daunting task. We have tried to offer a good balance between the traditional and new, between native fare and fusion, and we trust no readers will go hungry for want of a good restaurant during their stay. M on the Bund 7F, 5 the Bund - entrance around the corner at 20 Guangdong Lu, Huangpu district, 6350 9988. (11.30am-2.30pm, 6.15pm-10.30pm. All cards, Chinese/English menu.) A sister restaurant to Hong Kong's M on the Fringe, M on the Bund is the place to go for swanky European cuisine with a view - and an amazing one at that - of Shanghai's bund. M on the Bund is where the trendsetters meet for drinks on the terrace at sunset, so even if you are not hungry, it is worth popping in for something off the extensive wine list. However, the excellent cuisine makes stopping by with an appetite the thing to do. We especially enjoyed the pesce all'acqua pazza (monkfish cooked with tomatoes, chilli and herbs). Whampoa Club (5F, 3 on the Bund, 3 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu, Huangpu district, 6321 3737. (11.30am-2.30pm, 5.30pm-10pm. All cards, Chinese/English menu.) Executive chef Jereme Leung is ranked among the world's best by The American Academy of Hospitality Science, and his creations mix the traditional and the contemporary with succulent results. Whampoa is definitely the place for tea, boasting a variety of more than 50 blends from all over China and served in the traditional way. Herbal Legend Unit 1B, Lane 123, Xing Ye Road, Xintiandi Plaza, Lu Wan district, 6386 6817. (11am-1am. All cards, Chinese/English menu.) Herbal Legend serves carefully crafted fusion Chinese dishes with medicinal herbs and obscure ingredients from throughout the mainland. The menu changes seasonally to reflect the needs of the body in different weather. Signature dishes include stewed duck with caterpillar fungus, fried eggplant in tomato sauce and stir-fried pumpkin with fresh lily. Shanghai Mei Long Zhen Restaurant 1081 Nanjing Road West, Jing'an district, 6253 5353. (11.30am-2pm, 5pm-9pm. All cards, Chinese/English menu.) You know you are in for an experience as you walk down the short alley that leads to the classical Chinese temple-style entrance of Mei Long Zhen. The decor is early Qing, with red lanterns and tapestry-covered walls. The cuisine matches the decor in style and taste, with Shanghai-to-the-core dumplings, crabmeat and shark's fin soup, and several abalone dishes. Di Shui Dong 2F, 56 Maoming Nan Lu, by Chang Le Lu, Luwan district, 6253 2689. (Open daily from 10.45am-1.45am, no cards, Chinese/English menu.) While Di Shui Dong does not serve Shanghai cuisine, a meal here will enhance your China experience if you have the stomach for hot and spicy. Vegetarian Life Style JiangNing Branch No258 Feng Xian Road, 6251 7566 HuaiHai Branch 1F, No77 Song Shan Road, 6384 8000 GuBei Branch, No848 Huang Jin Cheng Road, 6275 1798 (Mon-Sat 11am-9pm, Sun 11am-830pm. All cards, Chinese/English/Japanese menu.) The restaurant offers excellent fusion Chinese vegetarian dishes low in fat and high in flavour, including braised gluten, a variety of tofu dishes, and a wide range of vegetables and exotic fungi. All three branches are tastefully decorated in the height of Shanghai chic. And they are all happening spots. Tienhu Garden 1399 Nanjing Road West, 62897877. (11am-2pm, 5pm-9.30pm. All cards, Chinese/English menu.) Tienhu Garden is already gaining a reputation as a good place to enjoy typical Shanghai dishes such as female crab in Chinese wine, braised shark's fin, and edible bird's nest. Of course, no Shanghai restaurant would be complete without a hefty selection of dumplings, and Tienhu Garden has these in abundance. Shanghai A Mao Dun Pian Dian Huang he lu 127-135, 6327 4963. (11am-11pm. All cards, Chinese/English menu.) Huang He Lu is where locals go to eat Shanghai-style. For non-locals, choosing a worthy restaurant from the dozen or so along this strip seems daunting. We recommend this restaurant for its excellent range of Shanghai specialities served in a classic old Shanghai second-floor setting of high vaulted ceilings and dark wooden decor. You do not need to order from a menu - all of the day's dishes are arranged on a table at the entrance, so before heading upstairs, simply pick out a few that catch your eye and the chef will make a fresh batch. Dishes are reasonably priced, and the overall feel of the restaurant is smart/casual. Our favourite dishes are spicy crayfish, smoked river fish, and the three-colour egg flower rolls. Old-school Shanghai chic at a reasonable price. Sophia's 480 Huashan Lu, by Wulumuqi Zhong Lu, Jiang'an district, 6249 9917. (11.30am-2pm, 5.30pm-10pm. All cards, Chinese/English menu.) The place to go for a romantic evening - the dining area is sectioned off into small niches that, while hardly suitable for a large business lunch, are perfect for an intimate meal. Privacy is assured as the waiters remain out of sight until you ring a tabletop bell. Sophia's speciality is suckling chicken, cooked with a blend of 28 herbs and spices. Ashanti Dome 16 Gao Lan Lu, by Si Nan Lu, Luwan district, 5306 6777. (6pm-10.30pm. All cards, Chinese/English/French menu.) This restaurant is in a former Russian Orthodox Church, so you might be tempted to visit it as much for its architecture and ambience as for the food. Rest assured, the cuisine will not disappoint, with European fusion offerings such as seared rack of baby lamb, Norwegian salmon with julienne vegetables and fresh fennel, and generous, artfully prepared salads. Le Garcon Chinois No3, Lane 9, Heng Shan Road, 6431 3005. (6pm-10.30pm. All cards accepted, English/Spanish menu.) Le Garcon Chinois is a perennial favourite with the Shanghai expatriate crowd as much for its ambience as its cuisine. Set back in an alley off the popular Heng Shan Road, this intimate restaurant is in a restored French mansion that dates back to the beginning of the 20th century. The chefs are adventurous. For several years, the restaurant served Chinese and French cuisine, but recently revamped the menu and now offers a more Spanish feel. We were especially impressed with the spinach and cheese stuffed chicken breast and the duck breast with sauteed apple and mango sauce. Another big lure is its small, first-floor bar - an intimate, oak-filled room with murals.