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The most unusual dining experiences in Shanghai are those that you wouldn’t find in the West, Chinese enclaves notwithstanding. Take the Tongchuan Road Seafood Market, for example. Less a market than blocks lined with seafood stalls, here’s where to come when you want limitless options. The shops here sell all manner of seafood, including crab, prawns, salmon, and oysters, and then the restaurants around the corner will cook it all up for you. Seafood is priced by the half kilo, and the restaurants will prepare your goods for around ¥10 per half kilo. The restaurants themselves also have menus, so you can add on vegetables or whatever else strikes your fancy.
Much more centrally located is Shouning Road, a pedestrian-only food street where the focus is also seafood. Here, the restaurants that sell you the crustacea and fish also cook them for you. Oysters are quite popular here, especially grilled with chili and oil, but you’ll find prawns, crawfish, and non-seafood dishes like dumplings, fried rice, and a few vegetable options. There’s open-air sidewalk seating and, in the warmer months, the tiny restaurants leave their doors open. Shouning Road is open 24 hours.
On the complete opposite end of the unusual Shanghai dining experiences spectrum is Ultraviolet. Shanghai's most unique and certainly most exclusive restaurant, the restaurant is the brainchild of French chef Paul Pairet, and one that was 15 years in the making. The dining room is a stage for the evening's performance and the audience is one table of 10. Ultraviolet is a literal feast for the senses. Each of the 20 courses is paired with a corresponding drink such as mint tea or chardonnay (which are all included in the price of the meal), a visual, a scent and sound. The restaurant's location is a secret, but making reservations is easy; do so here.