The website, on the other hand, is quite a gem (dianping/点评 means “click and review”). It’s definitely democracy in action.
Most restaurants have at least 10 to 15 reviews: detailed, amusing, some perhaps a bit over the top, but collectively, always fair. Dianping compiles four statistics according to user feedback: taste, ambiance, service and cost per person. In addition, each restaurant comes with its list of recommended dishes and ways to get there by public transportation. Some even have user uploaded pictures, so you can check out the joint ahead of the time.
The site is also extremely user-friendly. You can customize your search based on location, type of food, level of service, whether you can dine al fresco, how much you wish to spend, etc. Every search result you click on will also give a list of other dining establishments in the area as well as similar restaurants you may want to consider.
There is just one small catch. The site is 100 percent written in Chinese, which could be a small (or gargantuan) obstacle to some Shanghaiist faithful. That “Chinese for Dummies” book you’ve stashed away? Well, now is maybe a good time to give it another read. 祝您好运!