When you need a break from packing your lunch, avail yourself of one of the city’s set lunch deals. We’ve included a mix of Western and Chinese restaurants here, since non-Chinese speakers will find it difficult to order set lunches at many Chinese restaurants. (Don’t let that stop you from going, though! Just grab a local friend and bask in the reasonable prices). All sets listed here cost less than $20, so you can save your dough for client dinners.
Mi Xiang Yuan
Local favorite Mi Xiang Yuan serves lunch sets made up of a main (try lurou fan, a marinated pork rice bowl), soup, tofu, and a vegetable, like cabbage stir-fried with carrots. Vegetables come from Zhao’s family’s organic farm. 1/F, 608 Xiaomuqiao Lu near Zhongshan Nan Er Lu
Serving MSG-free homestyle Shanghainese food, this is the spot for truly local bites. All lunch specials are noodles, like the classic, veg-friendly scallion oil noodles (cong you ban mian), though you can add on stir-fried bok choy or a deep-fried pork chop. 328 Jianguo Xi Lu near Xiangyang Nan Lu
Le Petit Canard
A Parisian bistro it’s not, but Le Petit Canard does respectable Gallic fare like duck magret and confit. Served alongside the mains are a tiny appetizer such as green beans, soup, a small salad, steamed eggs, and dessert. 167 Yanping Lu near Wuding Lu
The health-conscious flock here in droves, queueing up at the canteen-style counters. On the panini, salads, sides, and soup and from these you can compile a set. Sides are the favorite here (think kale with mango and pepitas and roasted butternut squash, with chili and lime.) Mutiple locations
Just like Sproutworks, HG serves healthy food canteen style. Gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, or vegan, there’s plenty for you here, like braised bulgogi tofu and five-grain rice with goji berries. Choose your base, protein(s), vegetables, and garnish. Multiple locations
The weekday set lunch menu is small here: six sandwiches with a side of Caesar salad, pasta salad, or the daily soup. The prosciutto, buffalo mozzarella, and pesto on ciabatta, for example, has a pleasant mouthfeel and tastes great paired with tomato soup. 33 Mengzi Lu near Xujiahui Lu
Goga is American chef Brad Turley’s minute temple to California-Asian fusion. His high-end bento boxes come with your choice of protein (fish or meat), plus pasta salad, kimchi, green salad, rice, and rotating sides such as candied pumpkin with walnut or peas with shrimp.
Photo: Lou Stejskal/Flickr