Affordable Shanghai business lunches

Affordable Shanghai business lunches

Here are seven great lunches, at seven top Shanghai restaurants, that won't make you choke on the coffee mints when the bill arrives

Say the words “business lunch” in Shanghai and suddenly prices increase three-fold. But there are still a few holdouts that are as good a deal as the one you’re there to make.

Here are the best from each area of the city.

French Concession: Lapis Sky

Shanghai business lunch -- lapis skyDrive a hard bargain, but soften the mood with view of Lapis Sky's French Concession and lunch deal.Gorgeous, affordable and usually deserted for lunch, Lapis Sky is one of our favorite new restaurants in French Concession.

The interior feels like the lovechild of M on the Bund and Kathleen’s 5. Several tables offer unobstructed view of French Concession villas and comfortable sofa-like seats that encourage hours of lazy lunching.

Try the very affordable three-course lunch set menu for RMB 68, which includes a soft drink, a daily soup, an appetizer and a main. 

The mains include roast chicken with baby potatoes, pan-fried snapper with mushroom ragout and a signature burger with bacon.

If you feel like brunch, that’s available from 7:30 a.m. on weekends. The must-try for bunch: the slow-cooked hot spring egg with creamed baby spinach, truffle oil and foccacia.

Lapis Sky, 10 Baoqing Lu, near Fuxing Zhong Lu 宝庆路10号, 近复兴中路, +86 21 6474 6888

Xintiandi: Koyama

Koyama has a lot going for it. They offer 400-plus traditional Japanese dishes and regional specialties and a menu showing many of them in food-porn detail.

The decor is traditional Japanese and gives the restaurant an air of calm. Diners sit on traditional tatami mats and eat in the privacy of individual wooden booths.

The quality of their fish makes Koyama expensive for dinner (anywhere from RMB 200-700 according to dianping.com) but the set lunch is a steal.

There are several lunch bento options, but our favorite is the RMB 88 chirashi bowl set.

The sushi rice with tamago, fish paste and thick cuts of fresh tuna, salmon, cuttlefish and octopus is almost too pretty to eat. Seasonally, they’ll include mackerel, hamachi or other fish. The set also comes with chawanmushi (steamed egg), miso soup and a side salad.

It’s the best lunch deal in Xintiandi any day of the week.

Koyama, 3/F, South Block Plaza, Lane 123 Xingye Lu, near Madang Lu 新天地南里广场3楼, 兴业路123弄, 近马当路, +86 21 53821 125

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Xujiahui and Lujiazui: Hang Yuen Hin

Shanghai business lunch -- Hang Yuen HinThe perfect meal for two or three: spotted crab on a bed of long-grain jasmine rice mixed with egg white, fried shallot and conpoy.During lunch, Hang Yuen Hin offers 50 percent off its entire dim sum menu. The deal is well-known among patrons and a good bet if you’re lunching in Xujiahui or Lujiazui.

We’ve tried it at both locations. The original Hang Yuen Hin is best when you have at least an hour spare for lunch -- that gives you time to fully appreciate the peaceful surroundings as the restaurant is located inside Xujiahui park.

We recommend that you book at least two days ahead, or: 1. take your chances by showing up at lunch time to grab outdoor patio seating (brave of you in this weather), 2. forgo the discount but get a private room without paying extra (if you go with medium or large groups).

The ritzy new Lujiazui location in the Standard Charter Bank building has lots of window-side tables with views of busy Century Avenue. It’s the better location for a quick lunch, a little more impressive in the interior and easier to get reservations than the Xujiahui locale.

No matter which you go to, don’t miss Hang Yuen Hin’s almond shrimp egg rolls, sesame-studded durian pastries and beef tripe.

Hang Yuen Hin, 290 Wanping Lu, inside Xujiahui Park 宛平路 290号, 近肇嘉浜路, 徐家汇公园内, +86 21 6472 9778; 3-4/F, Standard Charter Building, 201 Shiji Dadao, 世纪大道201号渣打银行3-4楼, +86 21 6880 9778

Nanjing Dong Lu: Allure

Allure's La Pause business lunch condenses the pleasures of a French meal into 45 minutes. And chef Michael Wendling's Mediterranean-French fare is just as suited to seduction as closing business deals.

Allure's calm ambiance makes it an oasis above the chaotic Nanjing Dong Lu.

Wendling's food, which can average around RMB 450 a person for dinner, is a bargain at lunch and brunch. Get three-courses for RMB 148 on weekdays or RMB 188 on weekends. 

Start first by selecting four canape-sized appetizers from a list of eight. We like the “Le jambon" a tiny croque monsieur, and “La Thon," seared tuna encrusted with black pepper and sesame seeds. 

For mains, you choose one entree. We like both “La riz," the creamy mushroom risotto and “La Boeuf," marinated beef with aged mustard, roasted bell pepper and mashed potatoes.

For dessert, skim down to “sweets” for a daily special or the classic creme brulee with mango and passion fruit.

Allure, 789 Nanjing Dong Lu, Le Royal Meridien 南京东路789号上海世茂皇家艾美酒店, +86 21 3318 9999

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Nanjing Xi Lu: Issimo

Shanghai business lunch -- issimoAlthough you can choose from a first course, a pasta or pizza as part of your lunch set, you'd be crazy to pass up this slice at Issimo.Issimo’s food is good, but the environment is stunning. Award-winning interior designer Darryl Goveas envisioned a “modern chalet” and he made one.

From the street level, a mirrored staircase leads into a gorgeous dark wood interior, molten copper bubble lights and a gorgeous mother of pearl bar.

“Issimo’s Italian cuisine is brilliant and creative,” says Cityweekend.com.cn serial online reviewer Lucipher.

Try the restaurant’s popular, ever-changing Pranzo lunch, which comes in either three courses (RMB 148) or four courses (RMB 178). These include a complimentary house pour, spirit or soft drink.

There's antipasti, primo (first course, a pasta or pizza) and dulce (dessert). Both sets end with coffee to get you out of your inevitable food coma. The four-course set includes secondo, a second meat entree.

Issimo, 2/F, JIA Boutique Hotel, 931 Nanjing Xi Lu, near Taixing Lu 南京路931号2楼, 近泰兴路, +86 21 33024997

The Bund: Sun with AQUA

One of the most affordable lunch sets on the Bund, Sun with AQUA's RMB 150 “little bento” is an arrangement of sashimi, unagi, croquette, tamago, sushi roll, agedashi tofu and tempura, all displayed in pretty Japanese ceramic ware.

Then there's Sun with AQUA's beautiful interior, which definitely provides the ambiance for your business dealings.

On dianping.com, Sun with AQUA currently scores a rare 26 out of 30 for flavor, and 26 out of 30 for ambiance.

Sun with AQUA, 2/F, Bund 6, 6 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu, near Guangdong Lu 中山东一路6号, 外滩六号2楼, 近广东路, +86 21 6339 2779

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Hongqiao: Spectrum

Spectrum -- Shanghai business lunchDig into dim sum at your next Shanghai business lunch.Local foodie Emily Chen makes it to Spectrum’s all-you-can-eat brunch unfailingly every month for the lobster soup.

“It’s got this rich texture and chunks of lobster too,” marvels Chen.

The excellent steamed rice rolls with beef, gai lan cooked just right and another specialty, fresh hargow, draw in many other regular patrons.

The restaurant’s elegant Cantonese decor and the garden views from the floor-to-ceiling windows will make you feel like you’re spending much more than you are. The central banquet table can be curtained off for privacy, and is free to reserve as long as you’re going with a party of eight or more.

The dim sum lunch is RMB 88 plus 15 percent service charge on weekdays, RMB 98 plus 15 percent on weekends, tea included.

Spectrum, 2/F, 2588 Yan’an Xi Lu, near Shuicheng Nan Lu 延安西路2588号千禧海鸥大酒店2楼, 近水城南路, +86 21 6208 5888 ext. 72203

Joanne Yao is a writer and editor based in Shanghai.
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