Oktoberfest has arrived and this 16-day festival celebrates all things Bavarian. Originating in Munich in 1810 as a celebration of Crown Prince Ludwig’s marriage to Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen, Oktoberfest is celebrated annually around the world.
Bavarian cuisine originated in rural households in the southeastern German province of Bavaria. It evolved to the food of choice for the 19th-century royal court with the powerful Witteslbach and Hapsburg families refining the style by adding Czech and French influences.
The cuisine has more in common with neighboring Austria than with the northern parts of Germany where fish and asparagus are regional favorites.
Meals are characterized by hearty meat dishes like schweinshaxe (pork knuckle) and schweinsbraten (pot boiled pork roast), extensive use of flour and the knödel (bread based dumplings).
Pork is a staple, usually pot-roasted, and can be prepared in several ways. The most famous is sauerbraten in which meat is marinated in a vinegar mixture for several days.
There’s a long heritage of sausage making in Germany with over 1,500 types available. The white sausage developed in Munich is part of the staple weißwürste, or second breakfast, which also includes sweet mustard, pretzels and wheat beer. Popular sausages include Berlin’s currywurst and the Lower-Saxon area’s bratwurst.
It’s not spicy. Red cabbage, potatoes and sauerkraut are common sides.
Bread is a staple, including sourdough, darker rye-breads like schwarzbrot, and steamed, sweet-tasting pumpernickel, among many.
Since World War II, schnitzel (escalopes, flattened, tender boneless meat pieces) has become popular. Variations include Wiener schnitzel (Viennese schnitzel coated with flour, eggs and breadcrumbs) and jägerschnitzel (hunter’s schnitzel served with mushroom sauce).
Bavarian beer is legendary and has spread throughout the world. The 1516 German Beer Purity Law from the Bavarian city Ingolstadt stipulates that only water, hops and malt be used as ingredients.
Shanghai residents can taste a bit of Bavaria at these restaurants.
With four locations, this is Shanghai’s best-known German chain and all venues resonate with Bavarian culture. All have outdoor biergartens and each night there’s live entertainment from a house band.
Ambience: Festive. The Fenyang Road venue is massive, with three floors centered around a stage. Decorated in traditional style with warm colors and wood, it gets raucous at night. Oktoberfest is from October 11-19.
Who to Invite: It’s suitable for knocking back beers with a group of friends. It’s not great for intimate dinners.
Food: The extensive menu is filled with favorites served in hearty portions. Samplers are available, including a Bavarian platter and sausage plates, perfect for groups. Pork knuckle is solid but there are other favorites such as veal goulash, sauerbrauten and the braised beef roll.
Drinks: On-site brewery has won awards from local publications.
Recommended: Sauerbrauten, veal goulash enriched with Paulaner Beer, potato soup “Old German Style,” mixed sausage platter.
Prices: About 1,300 yuan for four — mixed sausage platter (8 pieces), veal goulash, pork knuckle (whole), warm apple strudel with vanilla ice cream, 4 1L pints (Munich lager, Munich dark and wheat beer)
Address: • 150 Fenyang Rd (6474-5700)
• No. 19-20, North Block, 181 Taicang Rd (6320-3935)
• 2967 Lujiazui Rd W., Pudong (6888-3935)
• 1-2/F, 555 Expo Ave, Pudong (2206-0555)
Originating from Singapore, Brötzeit has two locations in Pudong’s World Financial Center and on Shaanxi Rd N. All of Brötzeit’s locations are uniformly synched from portion sizes to the music being played.
Ambience: Modern. The traditional warm brown of German restaurants has been given a contemporary makeover. Rows of tables with padded benches encourage group snacking and chatting. The never-ending mist emerging from the taps is pretty cool.
Who to Invite: Groups of friends. The Nanjing Road location makes it ideal for lunch and after-work drinks. It has a wide range of promotions, from daily lunch specials to weekly ladies nights.
Food: Hearty Bavarian, with varied selections of früden (flatbread pizza), sausages and pork knuckle. The group platter (439 yuan) is popular.
Drinks: Paulaner beer imported from Munich is on tap, with specialty flavors like Oktoberfest beer.
Located in Hongqiao, this is a “Laowai (foreigners) Street” institution. It was started by German Iris Kaiser nearly a decade ago over frustration at the lack of a genuine German pub. With a single location and no plans to expand, it has the charm of a long-running favorite.
Ambience: Homey. Large with an outdoor patio. Downstairs has a traditional German feel with a glass-window on the on-site brewery. It’s lively at night; upstairs is quieter, with nice views.
Food: Traditional. Kaiser uses her family recipes and the Bavarian-heavy menu is authentic. There’s a large selection of traditional favorites and Friday all-you-can-eat schnitzel night is a favorite. It rotates monthly specials of dishes from other regions.
Recommended: Handmade noodles with sauerkraut and bacon, cordon bleu (Käse-schinken-schnitzel) mit pommes frites, pork knuckle.
Drinks: Beer brewed on site, with dark Dunkles Pilsner very popular.
Price: 358 yuan for two — mixed specialties platter with two 1L pints of Dunkles Pils
A longtime Shaoxing Road favorite, this intimate cafe brings an Austrian touch to the elegant street. Best known for Thursday film nights, conversation and coffee, it serves up an Austrian-style Sunday brunch. There’s a spread of cold cuts, cheese and breads, a common breakfast or frühstück. The centerpiece is an assortment of breads from pretzels to sliced rye to rolls.
Ambience: Cute. It exudes warmth. Tables for two and four spread throughout.
Who to Invite: A date. It’s good for a group brunch. Pretty sedate, so it’s not a place to start the Sunday party.
Food: Healthy. German food is known for being hearty, but this brunch consists of all-you-can-eat cold cuts, cheese, muesli and bread. Pretzels are delicious and everything is baked on site. Brunch includes one egg in any style and kaisererschmarnn (caramelized pancake).
Drinks: Brunch includes one hot drink, free flow apple, orange juice