Shanghai chefs' secret eating habits

Shanghai chefs' secret eating habits

Where do Shanghai’s top chefs eat when they are not cooking?

All Shanghai diners have a secret eatery they keep only for themselves; ditto professional cooks.

So we sent this questionnaire to five of Shanghai’s best chefs: which kitchen do you go for food when you’re not in your own? And some of their answers might just surprise you.

From noodle shops to late-night cafes, Shanghai’s top culinarians are unexpectedly down-to-earth when it comes to favorite Shanghai meals.

Shanghai chef secretsSpanish chef Willy Trullas Moreno recommends Charmant's vegetable salad.

1. Willy Trullas Moreno, El Willy

By day 33-year-old Willy Trullas Moreno prepares modern Spanish tapas with inventive flavors at his restaurant El Willy. But by night, he likes to keep it simple.

After work, Willy enjoys Taiwanese restaurant Charmant -- not only because it stays open till 4 a.m., but also because of the food.

“My absolute favorite is a salad of julienne vegetables (RMB 68) -- carrot, coriander leaves, tofu strips and Chinese cabbage stems -- dressed with Chinese vinegar and served with roasted, crushed peanuts,” says the Barcelona-born chef.

“Sometimes I even order two,” he continues.

Willy also recommends the restaurant's Taiwanese comfort food dishes, like smoked duck, basil omelet, and Hakka style pork belly.

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Charmant (小城故事), 1414 Huaihai Zhong Lu, near Fuxing Xi Lu 淮海中路1414号, 近复兴中路, +86 21 6431 8107, 11 a.m.-4 a.m.

El Willy, 20 Donghu Lu, near Huaihai Zhong Lu 东湖路20号, 近淮海中路, +86 21 5404 5757, Monday-Saturday: 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; 6 p.m.-10:30 p.m.,

Shanghai chef secretsWhen Dicky To is not manning Peninsula Hotel's kitchen, he dines at Cantonese restaurants, such as Tsui Wah.

2. Dicky To, Yi Long Court

It seems that chef Dicky To, 37, never tires of Cantonese cuisine -- whether it is preparing it or eating it.

The Hong Kong-born chef cooks some of Shanghai’s best Cantonese dishes at Yi Long Court in The Peninsula Hotel, and enjoys Cantonese comfort food in his time away from the kitchen.

His favorite Shanghai restaurant is Tsui Wah.

“This restaurant has the typical Hong Kong food and the taste is almost 90 percent the same as it is in Hong Kong,” says To. “I especially like the curry beef stew (RMB 48).”

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Tsui Wah (翠华餐厅), 291 Fumin Lu, near Changle Lu 富民路291号, 近长乐路, +86 21 6170 1282, 10:30 a.m.-2:30 a.m.,

Yi Long Court (逸龙阁), The Peninsula Hotel, 32 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu, near Beijing Dong Lu 中山东一路32号半岛酒店, 近北京东路, +86 21 2327 2888, 12:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m., 6 p.m.-10:30 p.m.

Shanghai chef secretsCoconut Paradise's curries are Thein's favorite Thai fare.

3. Tom Swe Tae Thein, Lost Heaven

Burmese-born chef Ton Swe Tae Thein helms Chinese fusion restaurant Lost Heaven.

Thein's father came from China's Guangdong Province and his mother from Yunnan, so the 41-year-old Thein is well versed in the Chinese regional folk cuisine that's served up at the popular dining spot.

While off work, Thein prefers the flavors of Southeast Asia and heads to Coconut Paradise for a fix of Thai food.

“My favorites are the curries, but I also love the spicy beef with basil (RMB 119-149),” he says.

More on CNNGo: Shanghai's best Yunnan cuisine

Coconut Paradise (椰香天堂), 38 Fumin Lu near, Julu Lu 富民路38号, 近巨鹿路, +86 21 6248-1998, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., 5 p.m.-11 p.m. 

Lost Heaven (花马天堂), 38 Gaoyou Lu, near Fuxing Xi Lu 高邮路38号, 近复兴西路, +86 21 6433 5126, 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m., 5:30-10:30 p.m.

Shanghai chef secretsFrench chef Paul Pairet votes Din Tai Fung's xiaolongbao as a Shanghai must-try.

4. Paul Pairet, Mr & Mrs Bund

Chef Paul Pairet has become famous for his exotic French-meets-molecular-gastronomy menu at the trendy (and often totally booked out) Mr & Mrs Bund.

Given the lively nature of the renowned Bund restaurant, Pairet prefers somewhere equally high-profile to wind down and grab a bite to eat.

The 47-year-old chef says that he sometimes heads down the street to the Waldorf Astoria’s Long Bar for what he calls “honest bar food.”

But more often, he finds himself at the well-know Taiwanese chain Din Tai Fung for its “trusty, never-fail xiaolongbao” (RMB 29 for five pieces), which Pairet insists is “one of the must-have dishes in Shanghai.”

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Long Bar, Waldorf Astoria, 2 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu, near Guangdong Lu 中山东一路2号, 近广东路, +86 21 6322 9988, 11 a.m.-1 a.m.,

Din Tai Fung, multiple locations, 2/F, Unit 11A South Block, Xintiandi, 123 Xingye Lu, near Huangpi Nan Lu 兴业路123弄新天地南里6号楼2楼11A单元, 近黄陂南路, +86 21 6385 8378, Monday to Thursday: 11 a.m.-3 p.m., 5 p.m.-midnight; Friday: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5 p.m.-1 a.m.; Saturday and Sunday: 11 a.m.-1 a.m.,

Mr & Mrs Bund, 6/F, Bund 18, 18 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu, near Nanjing Dong Lu 中山东一路18号, 近南京东路, +86 21 6323 9898. Lunch, Monday-Friday: 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.; Dinner, Monday-Sunday: 6:30-10:30 p.m.; Tuesday-Saturday: 6:30 p.m.-4 a.m.,

Shanghai chef secretsSushi expert Hatch Kenjiro Hashida has a unique way to eat Shanghai noodles.

5. Hatch Kenjiro Hashida, The Geisha

Tokyo-born chef Hatch grew up in a family which has served sushi in Japan for 60 years.

He now lives in Shanghai and is the sushi chef at Japanese restaurant/club/sake lounge, The Geisha.

Chef Hatch hardly gets a day off, but when he does he heads to Wu Yue Ren Jia noodle shop for a bowl of hot noodles with shrimp, crab meat and crab juice (RMB 38).

“I have my own way to eat it,” the 32-year-old chef says.

“They give the shrimp and crab to you on one plate and the noodles on another. Most people just mix it all together, but I like to eat them separately so that the delicate crab flavor isn’t overpowered.”

More on CNNGo: Shanghai chefs' late-night bites

Wu Yue Ren Jia (吴越人家), multiple locations, 2/F, 141 Shaanxi Nan Lu, near Nanchang Lu 陕西南路141号2楼, 近南昌路, +86 21 6445 7555, 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m.; 4:30 p.m.-9 p.m.

The Geisha, 390 Shaanxi Nan Lu, near Fuxing Zhong Lu 陕西南路390号, 近复兴中路, +86 21 6403 0244, 5 p.m.-late,

Joanna has been living and traveling in Asia for more than five years -- from Bangkok to Singapore and now Shanghai, where she lives in a lane house in Jing 'An.

Read more about Joanna Hutchins