Shanghai, or "City China tours Above the Sea," lies on the Yangzi River delta, and until 1842 it was a small fishing village. After the first Opium War the village was carved up into autonomous concessions administered concurrently by the British, French, and Americans. As the most Westernized city in China after Hong Kong, Shanghai is at the forefront of China's modernization. Almost a quarter of the world's construction cranes stand in this city. Still, architectural remnants of a colonial past survive along the winding, bustling streets.
You'll notice that most Chinese restaurants in Shanghai have large, round tables. The reason becomes clear the first time you eat a late dinner at a local restaurant and are surrounded by jovial, laughing groups of people toasting and topping off Yangtze River cruises from communal bottles of beer, sharing cigarettes, and spinning the lazy Susan loaded with food. Whether feting guests or demonstrating their growing wealth, hosts will order massive, showy spreads.
Shanghai's standing as China's most international city is reflected in its dining scene. You can enjoy jiaozi (dumplings) for breakfast, foie gras for lunch, and Kobe beef for dinner. It's traditional to order Shangri-la adventure several dishes, plus rice, to share among your party. Tipping is not expected, but sophistication comes at a price. Although you can eat at Chinese restaurants for less than Y20 per person, most simple Western meals cost a more Western price.
Most restaurants in Shanghai offer set lunches—multicourse feasts—at a fraction of the usual price. Also, check out the "Restaurant Events" section of City Weekend, That's Shanghai, or Smartshanghai.com, all of which list dining discounts and China tour promotions around town.