Best all-you-can-eat teppanyaki restaurants in Shanghai
Shanghai teppanyaki is glutton’s dream: for a set price, you get unlimited sushi, sashimi, barbecued meats such as shrimp and steak and dessert -- all prepared by a nimble-fingered chef right in front of you, with a massive fire show to boot.
Teppanyaki, a Western take on a traditional form of Japanese cooking where food is cooked over a heated iron griddle, was first introduced to China more than two decades ago, and going by the number of such all-you-can-eat places that dot Shanghai, it looks set to stay.
- More on CNNGo: The best South Korean food in Koreatown
Although not a good, nightly dinner option for those hoping to avoid an expanding waistline, all-you-can-eat teppanyaki is the group dinner of choice for those on a budget, but the challenge is finding ones that are worth the cash. We pick the best of the lot.
Go here if ... you like having a show with your dinner.
All-you-can-eat price: RMB 199
All-you-can-eat-and-drink price: RMB 220
Centrally located right behind Westgate Plaza in the Jing’an district, Gintei is famous for its pyromaniac chefs who secretly smirk as they engulf your food in flames so large they almost lick the ceiling.
Though some reviewers on Dianping think the eight-year-old restaurant’s simple decor needs a bit of updating, the largely Western expat crowd that packs the place on weekends is proof otherwise that everyone’s too busy looking at the food to care about anything else.
- More on CNNG: Best budget Japanese food
Go in small groups of two to four people to get the best view of the sizzles as big groups get seated at larger tables away from all the action.
Don't leave without ordering: Meat, lots of meat. The beef and lamb are grilled to juicy perfection, while the codfish has skin so crisp it dissolves in your mouth. The beef carpaccio makes for a good filler while waiting for your grilled items.
Random fact: Take the kids along for the fiery performance if you can’t find a baby sitter as children under 1.2 meters eat for half price.
Gintei Teppanyaki Sushi (银亭铁板烧), 75 Nanhui Lu, near Beijing Xi Lu 南汇路75号, 近北京西路, +86 21 6218 1932
Go here if ... you want to impress a date or business clients without worrying about a hefty bill.
All-you-can-drink-and-eat sushi or teppanyaki: RMB 168
All-you-can-drink-and-eat sushi and teppanyaki: RMB 198
Possibly offering the best value of the lot, the Uminosachi chain has unsurprisingly mushroomed to six locations across the city and in neighboring Nanjing and Ningbo in only a few years.
Simple interiors and shiny surfaces give the restaurant a clean and classy atmosphere, but will only set you back RMB 168 per head. For an additional RMB 30, you can order items from the both the sushi and teppanyaki menus, though we found the basic teppanyaki menu to be plentiful enough.
- More on CNNGo: Shanghai's best high-end Japanese
Dishes come in small portions -- great for those who want to try everything on the menu, but not so good if you have to repeatedly flag down waitresses for refills, though service is thankfully rather attentive.
“It’s the cleanest of all the teppanyaki restaurants on Donghu Lu, and there’s street-side parking right outside,” says patron Alexander Letterman, 30, who has been known to visit the restaurant twice a week.
Don't leave without ordering: Beef filet and the lamb. The tofu pudding makes for a perfect finish.
Random fact: Shanghainese owner Zhao Bin cut his teeth as a teppanyaki chef in Japan before starting up a tiny teppanyaki shack on Shaanxi Nan Lu in 1999. When the queues starting snaking round the block, he opened up the Xinle Lu branch and was soon on the path to rapid expansion.
Uminosachi (海之幸), 169 Xinle Lu near Donghu Lu 新乐路169号, 近东湖路, +86 21 5403 0303; 123 Nanyang Lu, near Xikang Lu 南阳路123号, 近西康路, +86 21 6279 3777; 4/F, Lansheng Tower, 8 Huaihai Zhong Lu, near Xizang Lu 淮海中路8号 兰生大厦4楼, 近西藏路, +86 21 6319 0178
Go here if ... you want a place where you can strike up conversations with the owners over dinner.
All-you-can-eat-and-drink price: RMB 180
The Shanghainese couple who own Itsuki lived in Japan and the United States before returning to Shanghai, and are often seen personally attending to customers, earning the 17-year-old restaurant rave reviews on Dianping for its warm service.
“We treat our guests like family because we want them to feel as though they are returning home when they come here,” says manager Lily Chu.
- More on CNNGo: Bar Untouchable -- a taste of Yokohama in Gubei
Television screens behind each chef’s station show English music videos to fill the lull when the chefs aren’t setting the crowd-awing fruit flambé alight.
For those who like a little DIY when it comes to dinner, opt for the seats with table-top grills on the first floor so you can cook your meat just how you like it.
Don't leave without ordering: The filet is a popular option, and the clam with melted cheese makes for an interesting food fusion.
Random fact: The doors between three of the five rooms upstairs are removable, making for a large space suitable for groups from 40 to 70 people.
Itsuki (五木铁板烧), 2/F, Donghu Hotel, 7 Donghu Lu, near Huaihai Zhong Lu 东湖宾馆, 东湖路7号, 近淮海中路, +86 21 5404 4146; Hui Xia Hotel, 38 Caobao Lu, near Qinzhou Lu 华夏大酒店, 38 漕宝路路, 近钦州路, +86 21 3414 0628
Go here if ... you are looking for the authentic Japanese dining experience.
All-you-can-eat-and-drink price: RMB 210
If the tables of suited Japanese businessmen around this Gubei restaurant aren’t indicator enough that this place is as Japanese as it gets, wait until you're handed the entirely Japanese menu. (Waitresses can provide Mandarin translation, but your best bet is to bring along a Japanese friend).
Dishes are grilled, broiled or stewed in a variety of sauces, and there’s even tasty soups on the menu, unlike in other teppanyaki restaurants where all grilled options end up tasting quite similar after awhile.
The only downside to Yuzu is that while great for private gatherings, the traditional Japanese booth layout of the restaurant means you don’t get to sit in front of the chef and the food can sometimes take ages to arrive.
Don't leave without ordering: The assorted sashimi platter -- the fish is amazing fresh and it also comes with generous portions of sweet shrimp and sea urchin.
Random fact: Yuzu, which means grapefruit in Japanese, is well-known Shanghai chain. While the Gubei branch is the most authentically Japanese in appearance, head to their Pudong branch if you want chef-side seats.
Yuzu (柚子), 2/F, 858 Xianxia Lu, near Yan'an Xi Lu 仙霞路858号2楼, 近延安西路, +86 21 6242 8578; 46F, HSBC Tower, 1000 Lujiazui Huan Lu, near Pucheng Lu 陆家嘴环路1000号46楼, 近蒲城路, +86 21 6841 5177, www.yuzu.com.cn
All-you-can-eat-and-drink price: RMB 228
Go here if ... you are fussy about the quality of your meats or prefer to dine in style.
The teppanyaki version of sister restaurant Haiku next door, Kagen, with its minimalist interiors continues the tradition of upscale Japanese fusion dining offered by Asian-American restaurateur Alan Wong.
Though the RMB 228 price tag is much steeper than its competitors’, Kagen's higher quality food and service -- mild-mannered, attentive wait staff -- are worth every kuai more.
- More on CNNGo: Shanghai chefs' late-night bites
Foie gras, filet mignon and huge tiger prawns are some of the favorites on the menu, and absent are some of the sneaky tactics employed by other large teppanyaki chains such as soaking the sashimi to make the slices appear fresher and larger.
Last orders are at 9:30 p.m. and weekend bookings fill up weeks in advance so act early to secure a seat.
Don't leave without ordering: Foie gras, filet mignon and tiger prawn.
Random fact: Owner Alan Wong, who's also the man behind acclaimed Beijing restaurant Hatsune, calls himself the "Sushi Samurai" and sometimes personally conducts sushi-making and sake-tasting dinner parties. Join the Facebook group for more details.
Kagen, 28 Taojiang Lu, near Hengshan Lu 桃江路28号, 近衡山路, +86 21 6433 3232