Nanjing’s varied culinary landscape encompasses a colourful smorgasbord of flavours and influences. The capital of the Jiangsu province, known as the land of fish and rice for its wealth of seafood, Nanjing’s menus bristle with local favourites such as steamed dumplings, sesame pancakes, salted duck and noodle broths. For a change from local food, there’s also a heady mix of continental flavours. Here are the six best restaurants in Nanjing.
1.For vegetarian food: Lu Liu Ju
Flying the flag for sumptuous plant-based cuisine, Lu Liu Ju—translated as Green Willows—fired up its woks in 1921. It was previously located on the Qinhuai waterfront in the cool shade of sweeping willow trees, hence its name. However, it has since relocated to a more prestigious site opposite Nanjing’s Presidential Hall in the busy Hanfu Food Square. Lu Liu Ju’s menu lists all the local favourites, with silky tofu replacing the meat.
2.For modern Cantonese cooking: Lu Chao
The fresh flavours and seasonal ingredients that define Cantonese cuisine are among China’s most celebrated and loved. Explore an excellent sample of this regional food, prepared by expert chefs, at Lu Chao. The broad spread of its homemade dim sum is not to be missed, while rich foie gras and butter-soft wagyu beef will tempt international palates. Sumptuous décor and exacting service make this one of the best restaurants in Nanjing.
3.For Jiangsu cuisine: Nanjing Impressions
For a glimpse of how the Ming dynasty dined centuries ago, step inside imperial-themed Nanjing Impressions and feast on the area’s traditional delicacies. Nanjing’s famed salted duck is the dish that brings visitors back here for more. For the adventurous, the duck blood and vermicelli soup is a popular order among locals, it being a traditional stalwart in Jiangsu cuisine.
4.For halal dishes: MaXiangXing CaiGuan
Serving regional delights that meet with halal guidelines since 1845, MaXiangXing CaiGuan is Nanjing’s first and oldest Muslim restaurant. Its size alone is testimony to its popularity, with its tables, chairs and bustling kitchen spanning four storeys and almost 3,000m2. Its expertly prepared local dishes and friendly service is what has kept it in business for over 150 years. Feast on Jiangsu favourites, such as steamed beef dumplings and deep-fried ‘squirrel fish’ glistening with a tangy sweet and sour sauce.
5.For French finesse: En Space
A sleek enclave next to the spectacular Porcelain Tower of Nanjing, En Space ticks two boxes of excellence; the first as a chic, contemporary French restaurant, the second as a cutting-edge art gallery. Art certainly meets cuisine here, where carefully fastened filo pastries nudge up against vivid salmon, avocado and caviar stacks, immaculately served in ingeniously ways.
6.For Spanish flavours: Selección Española
Plump prawns, inky squid paella and hearty Spanish casseroles all feature on Selección Española’s inspired continental menu. The restaurant’s starter plates—heaped with salami, prosciutto and cheese—offer up a generous taste of San Sebastian.
The best restaurants in Nanjing are all within striking distance of Jumeirah Nanjing.