Din Tai Fung is a popular restaurant chain, with all that means, and Trip Advisor reviewers have named it the top kid-friendly restaurant in Shanghai. Good service, multiple locations with the same standards, and dishes that aren’t too spicy make this one of the easier Shanghai restaurants to bring your kids to. If you live near one of the U.S. locations (or the Australian, Japanese, and several others), you can even try it out before you ever go to China.
Like most chain restaurants, Din Tai Fung serves food from its place of origin — in this case, Taiwan — rather than local cuisine. Adults who want a totally Shanghainese experience may avoid it for that reason, as they may also stay away from last week’s restaurant, Tao Heung, but children probably won’t care. The house specialty is xiaolongbao (soup dumplings), but the menu has extensive other choices. One is steamed chicken soup — and this isn’t Campbell’s, there’s a sizable chunk of cooked chicken in the bowl. You’ll know best whether your kids will like that.
Those are two of the top 20 dishes named on the Din Tai Fung site. Other choices include many you’d find at a Chinese restaurant in a Western country, such as fried rice (pork, shrimp, and pork/shrimp), wontons, pot stickers, and hot and sour soup. There are also many foods that your kids may not have heard of, but are simple enough that they may try them readily: braised beef noodle soup, pork chop fried rice, and stir fried vegetables. Some adult reviewers have complained the food is somewhat bland, but when you have kids along that’s actually a point in its favor.
City Weekend gives an approximate price range of $32 to $48 for two adults, and though no doubt it varies around the world, most review sites put Din Tai Fung near the lower end of the price scale.
In Shanghai, Din Tai Fung has locations at Xiantiandi, the Super Brand Mall, Yu Garden, Shanghai World Financial Center, Portman, the Grand Gateway, L’Avenue, JKC, and IAPM, (where you’ll also find Tao Heung). In the U.S., there are four locations in California and two in Seattle.
Other restaurants you might try with your kids are the Chinese fast-food chains I mentioned last week, Pizza Express if they need a short break for Western food, and Element Fresh, which specializes in healthy food, has a kids’ menu, and delivers.
Editor’s Note: For some family fun while in Shanghai, check out this article for ideas that the whole family will enjoy.