A Carnivore's Dilemma: Where to Crush Steak in Shanghai

By Sophie Steiner, July 9, 2021

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When we’re on the hunt for a good steak, there’s no genre of restaurant that doesn’t end up making an appearance on the list. Shanghai’s got bars, bistros and buffets that cover every cut, country and craving for steak ranging from RMB50-5,000. 

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We put our heads together to round up Shanghai’s top steakhouses, and a few honorable mentions we hear about time and again. This is not an exhaustive list by any means, and may not even be our last, but it serves as jumping off point when we’ve got a hankering for meat that needs to be satisfied, regardless of day, time or price. 

Steakhouses

Shanghai’s hit list spots for all things bovine and bloody, these are tried and true destinations where meat is the star. 

Boteco

Shanghai’s go-to Brazilian bar, Boteco is most famous for their Monday night 50% off 500 grams or one kilo Picanha Grill Set (original price: RMB648/1 kilo or RMB358/500 grams, includes four sides). As the first spot in Shanghai to offer this cut, more commonly known as rump cap, it’s no surprise that they easily go through half a ton of picanha per month. The South America-imported Black Angus is lightly seared on the outside then sliced – served raw – but with a cast iron pan so guests can grill the meat tableside to their liking. 

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Even when eating the beef rare without additional grilling, the quality comes through, in that it’s soft but in no way chewy, and expertly seasoned with a chopped garlic and salt sprinkle. 

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Fried cassava chips, stewed beans, rice, tomato salsa and farofa – a cassava butter crumble with bacon that deserves to be a condiment on every table – come with the set, making it a full-on meal with all the fixings. Since the rump cap has no bones, you’re getting a true kilo of pure meat, plus sides – a substantial meal for 3-4 people for just RMB324 on Mondays. Insanity. 

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On the vegan front, non-meat eaters can also now partake in the DIY grill experience, with a massive veg tray – including eggplant, mushrooms, zucchini, peppers and vegan mayo – plus Z-Rou meat patties served tableside on a cast iron plate, along with the same sharing dishes – rice, beans, cassava fries and kale salad – offered up on the regular set. 

See a listing for Boteco

el Bodegón

El Bodegón won Steakhouse of the Year at the That's Shanghai Food & Drink Awards for a reason. The steaks are great – and great value – while the atmosphere has exactly that energetic hum you want from a neighborhood restaurant – a lively hangout for the Argentinean contingency, replete with a shrine to all things fútbol (that’s soccer to you Americans), flowing Fernet and yerba mate sipping at every hour of the day.

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El Bodegón specializes in Argentinian steaks (and wine). Traditionally cooked as an asado, steaks are as integral to Argentinian culture as tango and football. All steaks are served with a side salad and chimichurri sauce, and all steak cuts—striploin, rib-eye, rump, tenderloin and skirt—are available as 200g or 300g ranging from RMB100-210. Swing by on a Monday through Thursday and get a free drink with your meat. The same steak deals and cuts are also available at sister restaurant, La Bodeguita del Sur

See a listing for el Bodegòn

Mr & Mrs Bund

After closing for renovations last summer, Mr & Mrs Bund launched a new menu for the first time in 11 years (think 60%+ new items) with a flashy new seafood bar and expansive grilled meat options. Grab your mink coat, satin gloves and oh-so-elegant Cruella De Ville cigarette holder, and get ready to drop some major Maos. Along with a meat fridge for aging cuts of steak comes more table side and trolley service, making the whole experience more interactive. 

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Meats range from leaner cuts, like Australian Wagyu Steak “Frite” (RMB450/200 grams) and USDA Angus Grilled Beef Ribeye (RMB350/250 grams) to hefty cuts, like the Porterhouse (RMB2,000) – a 1,200-gram portion of Angus USDA Prime beef, carved on a trolley grill tableside and meant for sharing, unless your hulking. All steaks are served with condiments and butter lettuce, prudent companions for charred meat, whose savoriness it eloquently enhances. 

See a listing for Mr & Mrs Bund

Raw Eatery & Wood Grill

As the brand ambassador for UYYU (Uruguayan Wagyu Beef) in China, Juan Campos, owner and executive chef of Raw Eatery & Wood Grill, is serious about steak. A departure from the American-style steakhouse most commonly found around town, Raw is a Mecca dedicated to all things Spanish, with steaks cooked in Campos' own signature style. The menu sports cuts from Chile, Argentina Uruguay, and a rotating selection of other countries, with a focus on sustainable, high-quality dry-aged beef.

Everything – from the meat to the roasted garlic bulbs to the smoked potatoes – are thrown in the Josper oven, a unique piece of kit that allows for food to be barbequed over both charcoal and wood and baked at the same time at up to 350 degrees. Essentially, it’s to meat what the sixth gear is to a Ferrari. 

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For a group of 3-4, the full blood M7 Uruguayan T-Bone (RMB1,098/kilo + three sides) is aged for 44 days, then cooled to between 37-40 degrees before being roasted in the Josper for only five minutes. That’s all that’s needed to sear it beautifully, forming a flavorful crust without the extra oil. With minimalist cooking, like with steaks, the narrow spectrum between bland and delicious can be measured in flecks of salt – or in this case, ash salt – and Raw has that measurement down to a science. 

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Other, more common cuts, like Chilean M7 Full Blood Ribeye (RMB1,288/kilo + three sides) and Uruguayan Bavette (RMB388/250 grams) are available daily, but if you’re lucky you can score a 300-gram portion of Chuck Flap (RMB388 + two sides) – a popular steak for Japanese cuisine because of its high marbling and bold flavor. 

Pro Tip: Do not skip the Sautéed Dragon Beans (RMB28) and Josper Baked Potato with Eggplant Aioli (RMB28) – you can thank us later. 

See a listing for Raw Eatery & Wood Grill

Rye & Co

The newest steakhouse in town is Rye & Co, a once Danish-style café that has been rebranded into a chic New York style space. Like something straight out of the trendiest part of Manhattan, you will find every evening chock full of swanky clientele sipping cocktails under red hue lighting, vibing to early 2000s hip hop, Mark Klinger’s (The Nest, The Cannery) signature playlist. Private dining rooms are currently being added downstairs, and additional window-adjacent tables just went in upstairs at the beginning of this month. 

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The food is classic American and all about doing things – well – simply; no innovation necessary. Steak is standout – as one would expect at a steakhouse – but the seafood, starters and sides are equally stellar. You won’t find anything dry-aged here, the focus is on honoring the flavor of fresh meat, but you will find cuts that span the US, Australia, Uruguay and Chile. 

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For a bite you won’t find elsewhere, we highly suggest the Filet Mignon (RMB488) – a Chilean M7 Wagyu cut encircled with in-house cured thick-cut bacon that just melts into porky butter from the steak’s heat. Expertly seasoned and seared, the steak is cooked to true requested temperature, leaving us with the pink-hued morsel we desire. 

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Another out-there option includes the Rye Signature Short Rib (RMB588). This 480-gram portion of UYYU Uruguay full blood Wagyu M7 beef is marked by fatty ribbons of marbling weaving their way throughout the tender cut. Sous vide for 24 hours and finished in a Garrison broiler from the US, the high heat gas flame sears into a crispy crust, yet the interior flesh just slides off the bone. A tart raspberry chutney on the side cuts through the meat’s richness, while buttery mashed potatoes adds an extra dimension of indulgence. 

Other signature cuts range from an Australian Ranger Valley M5 Tomahawk (RMB1,488/1.5 kilos) to Sirloin Tip Chile Wagyu M5+ (RMB198/180 grams). All steaks also come with upgrade options, like Grilled Whole Lobster (RMB288), Pan-Seared Foie Gras (RMB98) and North Atlantic Pan-Seared Scallops (RMB188/three pieces). A second location in Chengdu is already in the works, slated to open in November. 

See a listing for Rye & Co

Stone Sal

The steakhouse of choice for many chefs around this city is Stone Sal, a once well-kept secret that has now more than gotten out. Considering that they go through roughly six tons of steak per month – two of which is just in Tomahawks – it’s pretty clear from the numbers this is no longer a place only discovered through word-of-mouth, but rather a must-visit institution. After just completing a refurbishment at the end of last month, additional tables have been added near the front, making it *hopefully* easier to snag a coveted seat. 

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As the restaurant’s most ordered dish, the Wagyu Tomahawk Steak (RMB1,798/1.3 kilos) hails from Rangers Valley, Australia and is aged for 35 days. Chef and Owner Zhengu Lin’s philosophy is that 100 years ago, there was no specialized equipment for cooking steak, so a standard oven is what should still be used today to let the true flavor of the meat shine. He sears the steaks for 20 seconds and then cooks it in the oven at 230 degrees, using a proprietary blend of oil and spices to seal in the meat’s fattiness with the thickest, richest crust we’ve experienced to date. 

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The meat takes on a smoked-like quality with a condensed, deep flavor, and the fat explodes like molten lava meat butter with every bite. Served decadently on a gilded grill plate, the sizzling meat arrives tableside along with seasonal vegetables, volcanic sea salt, Dijon, Burgundy mustard seed and a tart raspberry mustard. 

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At Stone Sal, they age their meats at a lower humidity – around 55%  –  which results in more wastage, but also a more prevalent ‘meat flavor,’ as opposed to that divisive pungent cheese aroma found in longer aged meats. They also only use chilled (not frozen) meat, which allows them to play with flavor, and supply off-menu alternatives for those who prefer to splurge on longer duration aged meats. 

Stone Sal currently sources meat from the USA, Australia and Chile, and next month they will be adding premium Russian beef, similar to Black Angus, to that lineup. Other steaks are all sourced from one of three suppliers – Rangers Valley, Mayura and Infinity, and range in price from RMB498-RMB2,588. 

See a listing for Stone Sal

The Cut

A group of four restaurants, The Cut Concepts offer steaks from around the world across Shanghai. The original location in IAPM includes The Cut Steak & Fries and The Cut Rooftop, and offers a RMB198 Wednesday steak deal from 5pm to late that includes 200 grams of steak (choose from Harbin tenderloin, Australian sirloin, US striploin or Argentinian ribeye) and unlimited fries. 

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If it’s not necessarily a deal you’re after, we suggest the Beef Tasting Platter (RMB1,388) – a selection of three signature cuts plus two sides. The largest serving comes in the form of a rich, 500-gram USDA Prime Bone-in Striploin, while the 300-gram Chinese Chateaubriand is succulent with a more subtle savory meatiness. 

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A 350-gram 300-days Australian Grain-fed Ribeye rounds out this platter of lychee and Applewood grilled steaks that embody The Cut’s core value of bringing together cuts from around the world. 

See a listing for The Cut Steak & Fries

Wolfgang’s Steakhouse

The standard when it comes to American steakhouses, Wolfgang’s Steakhouse opened its first Shanghai location in 2018. Known for their rigorous aging program, the smaller of the two walk-in-coolers houses over seven tons of beef alone. 

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The signature cut, The Porterhouse (RMB1,600/2 people) is more like a Cote de Fred Flinstone – a behemoth of a USDA Prime Black Angus steak – coming from a 22-24 month old cattle and aged for at least 28 days. The meat loses 20% of its weight on average in aging, and then an extra 20% is removed from the exterior to ensure guests receive the choicest flesh. 

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The steak is seasoned, grilled at a high temperature over a gas flame, sliced, put on a ceramic plate with unflavored oil – to really allow the meat’s true flavor to stand out – then put back in the oven to seal in the richness before being delivered to the table in a still-bubbling beef jus. 

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The exterior puckers and crisps, charring to a rich dark brown that gives way to a rosy pink center – a welcoming dribble of beef jus will likely slide down your chin as the chunks are too large to consume in one bite. Yes, we tried. 

See a listing for Wolfgang's Steakhouse

1515 West Chophouse and Bar

The 1515 West Chophouse and Bar, the contemporary American-style restaurant at the Jing An Shangri-La, West Shanghai is renowned for its vintage interior design, inventive cocktail menu designed by Bar Manager Ruslan Kaptsan, and succulent steaks, grilled by Executive Sous Chef William Mahi. 

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1515 West Chophouse and Bar also houses a striking aging room sporting cuts like KIWAMI M9+ from Stockyard in Queensland, Australia – a customized Wagyu cut that is the only one of its kind available in China. The signature Black Angus Wagyu M5 beef is another top cut hailing from Stanbroke Range in Australia.

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The beef is salted, oiled and seared on a flat-top grill for the ultimate balance between sear and tender succulence, before being served to guests, along with a myriad of sides and desserts. 

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In addition to their standout lineup of steaks, chops and cuts, they recently launched a T-Bone Dinner Set Menu for Two. Marked down to just RMB798 net, you and your partner can indulge in creamy Mushroom Soup, a melt-in-your mouth 600-gram Black Angus Wagyu M5 Dry-Aged T-Bone with lusciously buttery mashed potatoes and a decadent New York-style cheesecake surrounded by a spiralized dark chocolate dome.

See a listing for 1515 West Chophouse and Bar

Noteworthy Mentions

While known primarily for more than just steak, these restaurants also serve excellent renditions of everything from ribeye to rump cap, T-bones to tenderloin, fillet to flank and porterhouse to picanha.

BISOU

BISOU, a casual yet sleek French restaurant, opened in Taikang Terrace this past April with a lot of warranted buzz as one of the partners is a well-known media mogul. Despite the classically French menu, Bisou is laid back, with a feeling like dining in your friend’s living room... if your friend happened to have a beyond impressive wine cellar and a critically-acclaimed chef on hand.

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Under whorls of melting butter, the Beef Bavette Wagyu M6 (228RMB) is 180 grams of pure succulence. Known in the US as flank steak, this flat cut of meat is taken from the abdominal muscles of the cow, with very fine intramuscular fat, making it prone to overcooking. But chef Rembi sears it quickly over ultra-high heat to achieve a perfectly medium rare steak that is thoroughly rosy, except at the edges, which are charred with a crunchy, salt-flecked crust. Buttery caramelized onions are contrasted by a quenelle of sharp stoneground mustard and a tight reduction of balsamic vinegar drizzle. There’s just a lot to love here. 

See a listing for BISOU

Cellar to Table

Cellar to Table is a French wine bar that acts as a cozy, casual alternative to NAPA, the owners’ previous Bund-adjacent venue. While the menu sees a variety of western European-inspired dishes, it’s the timeless hits that draw us back over and over again. 

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Steak & Frites (RMB160) have gone together since the beginning of time, and this leaner cut of Wagyu flank paired with addictingly crispy duck fat fries is no exception. Drizzled with a liberal lashing of chimichurri, the smoky, charred flesh gives way to a perfectly pink center.

See a listing for Cellar to Table

Franck Bistrot

One of the longest standing French bistros in Shanghai, Franck Bistrot, has remained an institution since it opened its doors in 2008. Since then, the menu has seen minimal change outside of seasonal updates because it’s the authentic, consistent quality dishes that have allowed it to remain successful for so many years. 

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The thick slab of Filet de Boeuf (RMB300) is quickly seared and finished in the oven with smashed garlic, thyme and only a spoonful of added oil (surprisingly less than many others that make it on this list) resulting in a cleaner, less heavy piece of meat. Topped humbly with chopped scallions, the juicy meat is further enhanced by a schmear of parsley coulis and a big dollop of extra buttery mashed potatoes. 

See a listing for Franck Bistrot

La Scala

La Scala, a highlight of The Sukothai, is a beacon of style for those who appreciate the fine art that is Italian dining. Since joining the kitchen team last summer, Executive Chef Antonio Corsaro is wowing us season after season, with everything from classic dishes – inspired by his Italian-roots cooking – to creative fusion favorites drawing upon experience garnered throughout his 17-year career that has spanned Italy to Paris to London to Singapore. 

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The menu’s most recent iteration saw the addition of Seared Black Angus Tenderloin (RMB388), a Steinbrook Australian cut, accented by blanched and seared cauliflower, confit shallots and a decadent albufera sauce made from foie gras purée, port wine reduction and beef jus. 

See a listing for La Scala

Must Grill

Must Grill is a traditional French bistro with subtle wine cellar decoration. Beloved for their stellar BOGO burger deal on Tuesdays, Must also offers a variety of steak options, particularly appealing during lunch time when they come as a two-course meal plus a drink. 

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A thick, well-seasoned 200-gram portion of Australian M3 Tenderloin (RMB168) comes with a starter, side and a drink – exceptional value for a filling lunch. Cheap and cheerful is the name of the game here. They also offer an Argentina Hereford Ribeye set (RMB158)

See a listing for Must Grill

Polux by Paul Pairet

Paul Pairet’s answer to a casual French café, Polux is a more approachable, everyday version of Mr & Mrs Bund. The menu is full of win after win, with consistent delivery of everyday bistro classics. 

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Along with that comes one of Shanghai’s best Minute Steak Frite (RMB150) – a char-grilled 130-gram flank steak, lightly seared and served with thin cut fries and a creamy béarnaise for dipping. The petite portion is ideal for a workday lunch, making it less of a chore to head back to the office. 

See a listing for Polux

Scarpetta

As one of Shanghai’s most popular Italian restaurants, Scarpetta holds its status as a culinary institution. Although the menu had only changed minimally since previous chef Patrick Leano moved to Singapore, this past winter saw a major revamp, with quite a few new dishes introduced, including a strong lineup of steaks. 

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The usual suspects are on offer, like a 300-gram New Zealand Angus Striploin (RMB568) plated with truffle polenta fries and arugula, or the USDA Prime Ribeye (RMM588/400grams) served traditionally with roasted potatoes seasoned with rosemary salt and beef jus.

The real standout, however, is the Chateaubriand (RMB528). Like eating a steak next to a hickory fire, this 250-gram slab of smoked M7 Uruguay Wagyu – and equally meaty portobello mushrooms stuffed with spinach and parmesan cream –result in a flavor profile of smoked, thick cut bacon in high end steak form. 

See a listing for Scarpetta

The Bull & Claw

One of Shanghai's most beloved restaurants, The Bull & Claw is known for three things: steak, lobster and brunch. Combining all three of those together in one, the Lobster & Ribeye Combo (RMB488) sees 300 grams of juicy Argentinian ribeye topped with half a live Nova Scotia lobster – steamed, grilled or thermador-style with cheese and bread crumbs – plus a choice of sauce and side dish, like Brussel sprouts with bacon and toasted almonds, mac & cheese, roasted pumpkin or whipped potatoes. Bonus! This meal is available all day, every day – brunch, lunch, dinner, you name it – it's always surf 'n' turf time! 

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In addition to filling your plate with all things from both land and sea, The Bull & Claw also offers Grain-fed Certified USDA Angus Del Monico (RMB788/600 grams), M7+ Wagyu (RMB598/250 grams) and a monster 1.2KG Tomahawk (RMB1,498), all of which come with your choice of side.

Newly added to the most recent iteration of the menu, sharing selections, like the Butchers Block (RMB988) – a tasting board of bacon-wrapped filet, Wagyu ribeye and grilled chicken plus three sides – the Surf & Turf Board (RMB1,788) – a Tomahawk and whole grilled lobster plus three sides – and The Bull & Claw Grill Flight (RMB2,588) – a tasting board of Classic, Delmonico and Wagyu ribeye, grilled chicken, salmon, wild halibut and whole grilled lobster plus five sides – are available for groups, so bring friends! 

See a listing for The Bull & Claw

The Shed

The Shed, a large, no-frills sports bar in Jing'an, offers darts, pool, sports screening and drink deals, plus a full menu of pub grub on the cheap. Included in this Western comfort food menu is a whole page of steaks that surprisingly get a lot of action, mostly owed to their 50% off on Monday deals. Serving up everything from a 180-gram New York Strip (RMB108) to a 500-gram Bone-in Ribeye (RMB298) – all including your choice of sauce and two sides – these meats easily clock in as the cheapest on the list. 

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The Shed is not touting their steak as the best in the city, by any means, and honestly, you get what you pay for. But if you’re not picky, it’s a Monday, you happen to be in the area, you only have RMB60 to your name and you need to eat steak or the world just may come to an end, then The Shed makes the cut. Sometimes the stars do align. 

See a listing for The Shed

And for a little more information on steak cuts...

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[Cover image by Sophie Steiner/That's]

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