Gong De Lin - Godly -...

Overall rating: 3.5 stars 30 Reviews
Ninty year-old restaurant (since 1922) with an extensive mockmeat menu, plus cookies and desserts. Staff speaks very little English, and some menu items are in English. Air-conditioned but smoking is allowed. NOTE: food might contain MSG - so ask. Price: Moderate more-less
Vegan, Chinese, Take-out
445 Nanjing Rd West
Shanghai, China

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First Review by tofutodd

Great restaurant, if you know what to order!!!

5 Posted on 02 / 05 / 2014

When you go there, please mind that this restaurant is not where it is showed on the Happycow.org map!!! It is just off People's square, it is the building next to the "JW Marriott hotel" / the Ferrari Maserati Commercial center and opposite the Porsche Dealership on Nanjing West road. (too many Marriott hotels on Google maps) On Google maps, I could also find it under "Gongdelin Maipinbu".

Now for the review - I was skeptical when I read the reviews here, and my first visit did not really give me the impression that it is a great place to go. I arrived 10 minutes before kitchen closing time (21:30), sat on the ground floor, and ordered "Budda jumps over the Wall" and the fried noodles as I could not find many other things on the Chinese/English menu that I could remember from the reviews here (unfortunately I did not read the reviews closely, otherwise I would have noticed that those are NOT suggested to non-Chinese people here). Both dishes were ok-ish, the noodles quite oily and a little bland, the soup was made from a variety of mushrooms that are not very common to the Western taste (but supposedly very healthy). I am not sure whether the taste of the dish or my unfamiliarity with Chinese cuisine are to blame, but I did not find it bad, only a little strange.

However, I decided to give the restaurant another try, and it was the right decision. On my second visit (with an omni colleague), I went to the first floor (which is much nicer), and we ordered Hot and Sour soup, Ma-Po tofu, Beijing style mock duck and sweet and sour mock fish. All of those dishes were absolutely delicious, and my colleague commended me on the choice of the restaurant. Have been going there at least once on each of my subsequent Shanghai visits (about once every 2 months), never regretted it!

Especially the 'Ma-Po tofu' was the best I have ever had (and that is a signature dish of my Chinese wife), the food was plentiful, the service professional and courteous, and the total bill (including tea and fresh mango juice) was about 200 RMB (30 EUR)

Highly advisable, so I give it 5 stars!!!

However, the restaurant is NOT VEGAN - so you have to check/ask! E.g. the Guava juice is prepared with dairy milk.
Updated from previous review on Wednesday February 05, 2014

Pros: Easy to find once you know where to look, Great food when you know what to order!!, Price absolutely ok for the area
Cons: You should know what to order, NOT VEGAN - check what you order

great salad!

5 Posted on 01 / 18 / 2014

I was a little confused, because I also read this place is vegan - at least I couldn't find anything which contains eggs or milk.
But anyway we don't like mock meat too much, so we just ordered vegetables. Especially the salad and the supposed to be like fish eggplants (which fortnulately didn't taste like fish at all ^^) were fantastic.
This restaurant is also quite cheap, so you can really order a lot :)

Pros: cheap, delicious
Cons: no sign which declares it's vegetarian/v
  • AndyT AndyT

    You have to watch out and, better, to ask.
    We once ordered the Guava juice which turned out to be milk-based :-(

  • AndyT AndyT

    Gong de Lin is the Chinese name, Godly is the name in Western characters... If you ask at a hotel reception etc., better ask for "Gong de Lin".



5 Posted on 05 / 30 / 2013

By far the best place about Godly is the amazing literal translation of its menu that has dishes called stuff like 'the sparrow flies East over an azure Autumn sky', which isn't perhaps the most informative of all descriptions but certainly puts you in the mood for the general awesomeness of Chinese vegan cuisine.

The food is, like most Buddhist inspired vegan food here, really great, with a wide selection of very tasty mock meats and cool exotic vegetables etc., some of it wasn't to my taste, but the trick is to buy lots of dishes to make sure that you'll all like something.

I thought the decor was swell and I generally really dug the vibe there; friendly staff (very limited English) and toilets were Western style.

Pros: Food, Place, Veganess

Classic Restaurant

3 Posted on 05 / 29 / 2013

The restaurant name is "功德林" 。 Easy to find, take a "Light train" to People's Square station (人民广场)at exit 11, just walk about 200-300 m. It's at the main road corner with 2 storeys. The food is ok & I like the dim sum / desserts.



4 Posted on 05 / 19 / 2013

This is a fine vegan restaurant in a central location. Some of the dishes are very tasty. The service is a bit off hand.

  • AndyT AndyT

    Not vegan. Some items are milk-based :-(
    Best to make clear (in Chinese) that you can only take "zhen su" food.


vegan food!

3 Posted on 02 / 27 / 2013

My husband and I are vegetarians and were very excited to try this restaurant. We do not eat mock meat or Msg so were hoping for something tasty and fresh without extra additives. We went up to the 1st floor for the view. The waiter spoke broken english and we managed to order ordered the seasonal vegetable, Bok Choy with mushrooms, bamboo with mushrooms And the noodle dish(similar to chow mein). The mushroom/ Bok choy was very good. All others were very oily and lacking flavor. Prices were a bit high for the food you get and the tea is 18/cup.

Pros: nice location, modified dishes( made more spicy or less oily
Cons: high prices for food you get

OK but not specially friendly

3 Posted on 11 / 09 / 2012

This restaurant is OK. Do not like that they don't serve any water or tea with the meal. If you choose the right disch, which is not easy, than you are fine.But if you choose the wrong, such as their abalone (huh) or crabmeat (very small dish), then you are sunk.
Have a look at the bill. They might charge you the towels you did not use.

Pros: pure veggie
Cons: not all dishes fine


3 Posted on 07 / 02 / 2012

large building with both ground and first floor eatings areas. Ground floor rather spartan and gloomy, first fllor more modern. English in menu needs some clarfiication, like "Buddha over the wall".... ur guess is as good as mine.Mock meats are bland, and seem to be made in house. Not up to the standard of what is commercially available. Smallish sized dishes abt $8 each. Rice arrives at end of meal (if ur lucky). Beer warm, no ice available. Staff speak no English. I went back another night thinking I may have had an 'off-night'. Second night no better. Seems non mock meat dishes are better, mixed muchrooms quite nice
Michael Tait, Australia

Pros: central, large
Cons: warm drinks, average food, ordinary service
  • AndyT AndyT

    "Buddha jumps over the wall" is a classic Chinese dish made from awful animal ingredients (like shark fin), which supposedly was given its name when a monk in a monastery (who was not allowed to eat meat) was so enticed by the smell that he jumped over the temple wall to get to eat the nasty stuff: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddha_Jumps_Over_the_Wall


Tasty comfort food

3 Posted on 03 / 18 / 2012

We ate at Godly twice this month, and also bought some of their buns from the shop next door. The food ranges from generic and overpriced through to excellent and cheap. It really depends on what you order. We liked the hot and sour soup, Shanghai noodles (not on the menu, just ask for noodles instead of rice with your meal), mapo tofu, and pickled cabbage. The fried dishes and jumping buddha soup were disappointing and not as good as the rest of the menu.

Updated from previous review on Sunday July 18, 2010
Updated from previous review on Wednesday August 18, 2010

Pros: Nice decor, Great hot & sour soup
Cons: Unfriendly service, Expensive tea, Hit and miss menu


3 Posted on 11 / 26 / 2011

Considering it's been around for so long, plus I like the one in HK a lot, I came to try out this first original location with my partner during our trip to Shanghai.

Restaurant was very easy to find. Menu has a lot of selections, but even as a native Chinese speaker I had problems figuring out what some of the dishes really are just by looking at the names; the English translations were worse, many didn't make any sense at all. I think the quality of your meal really depends on whether or not you know what it is that you're getting, so it'll help big time if you have a Chinese speaker with you that can communicate with the staff.

Back to the food, I asked the server for recommendations and it all turned out pretty well. Although, as in most restaurants in China, food tends to be on the greasy side. Decor is elegant, atmosphere tranquil, altogether a fairly pleasant dinner.

P.S. Don't use the towels or you'll be charged RMB 2 per piece... yes it's very minimal but I didn't like the way they snuck charges into our bill!

Pros: nice atmosphere, location
Cons: difficulty in ordering, oily food

Definitely not great

3 Posted on 10 / 23 / 2011

We went here with full knowledge that the reviews on HC are very mixed and quickly came to see why. The restaurant itself is nicely decorated and gives you that historical China feel. Service is weird and certainly not friendly or helpful. English is non-existent but this we are used to in China and have learnt to cope with. The menu is large and consists of the typical mock meats which we generally avoid. One thing we do enjoy though is mock duck - this is usually made using tofu sheets rolled up so is not over-processed (basically, it still classifies as 'food'). So we ordered this and as many other things as we could find that did not involve factory processed fake meats.

The duck looked promising - it was served with little pancakes, peking duck style, with a dark hoisin like sauce and cucumber strips. It was almost enjoyable, but the sauce was overpoweringly sweet. We ditched the sauce and just ate it without, which now meant it was bland. Then came a cold pumpkin dish we ordered. This too was sooo sweet that we had to leave it. They are obviously not using a healthy or high quality sugar either, just the regular supermarket white variety... and way too much of it. The rest of the dishes ranged between ok and oily. Nothing to write home about at all. Oh yes and they do use MSG. We ordered without though as we always do and I think they kept it out, although you never do know. In our book, restaurants who use MSG are not good restaurants because it means they don't know how to cook tasty food without it (any fool can make something taste good by lacing it with that stuff).

Overall, some of the food was edible, some was not. None of it was great. If we go back it means we are pretty stuck, but I don't think that will happen.

Pros: nice traditional interiors, large menu
Cons: MSG, sugar, oil, weird service, food is average


2 Posted on 06 / 22 / 2011

It is very easy to find. Go to People's Square station and direct to Marriott Hotel. It's right after that.

The atmosphere is good. Menu doesn't have pictures, very difficult to know what will you get. We started to choose with soup, it was tasteless then we took some mix veg, it was snivelling as well as a soup. The portions are small. Then I took tofu with veg pork thinking to get some taste with pork, they brought just soft tofu. I asked about pork they said no pork, we are veg restaurant. :-) But why do you have it in your menu? I know you're veg, that's why I came and I had a veg pork in every restaurant in Asia.

We took 5 dishes and left almost everything on the plates and left from there being hungry.
[edit by staff]

Cons: not good food, not healthy, small portions

Great place, great location

5 Posted on 05 / 20 / 2011

Very good food and reasonable prices. A classy place, but not pretentious: friendly, helpful service. Has English menu. A couple of blocks from People's Square makes this restaurant very easy to get to.

Pros: very good food, friendly service, classy ambiance

Good location, relatively cheap, not great service

3 Posted on 07 / 31 / 2010

The location of this restaurant is great. It is on the main road, within 5 minutes walk of the closest edge of People's Park.

The decor is good - dark brown wooden furniture, dark grey slate-look tiles, water underneath the stairs.

We ordered a bamboo shoot dish however found it undercooked and hard. We asked for them to cook it for another few mintues but they were unhappy to do so. They took it away and brought another dish similarly undercooked and this time spicier and much oilier. I guess they did try to help but did not get the point that we found it hard to eat.

The second dish of tofu with 3 kinds of mushrooms was good and we liked the addition of peas.

I would still recommend this restaurant as one of the two dishes was good, other people's dishes looked good, there is a good choice, plus the location is good as the restaurant is easy to find.

Pros: pretty place, location
Cons: service

nice chinese style meal!

4 Posted on 02 / 22 / 2010

I went to this restaurant today with two non-vegetarian friends. We had four dishes between us and we enjoyed them. The food was pretty oily but no more oily than your average Shanghai restaurant. It is typical Chinese food except without meat. It was not too expensive. 90rmb for the 3 of us excluding drinks. However they did charge us 2rmb for a wet towel. They leave packets with wet towels on the table for you. Beware that if you use them they will charge. We only saw this on the menu after my friend had opened one. The restaurant has a shop that sells spices and things as well. I didn't buy anything today but I think I will go back. The things seems reasonably priced.

Pros: good value, variety of dishes, good location, clean
Cons: towels cost 2rmb, food is oily

Wish we stayed home...

2 Posted on 11 / 29 / 2009

On the positive, this place is really inexpensive. After traveling in Beijing and eating at veggie restaurants there, we were excited to try out the "most famous" veggie place in Shanghai. Most of the servers do not speak english--could not even get a napkin. The menu is hard to understand. The food was okay, but so oily.
Meatballs and greens were probably our favorite.
The lamb was bad.
The eggplant was good--oily.
Noodles--were good.
Seasonal vegetables were good--but were mushrooms and noodles. I am not sure if they brought us the wrong dish.

All in all--you want cheap, go ahead. Looking for good food, don't bother.

Pros: Price
Cons: Oily food, Server do not speak english

Absolutely Delicious!

5 Posted on 09 / 08 / 2009

It's the best vegetarian restaurant in Shanghai for a reason! We had a mushroom soup, mock crabmeat (in a cute crab-shaped dish), mock eel, and mock chicken skewers that were flavored with lots of cumin. Absolutely delicious! I wish we could have gone back a second time.

Pros: Excellent food
Cons: Napkins are not free

Disappointed at Godly's

2 Posted on 05 / 15 / 2009

This was my first visit to Godly's in Shanghai and will most likely be my last.

I came in around 8:45pm, after aimlessly looking for a good place to eat. I was instantly excited to see the open sign and the door open to this vegetarian restaurant. The servers seemed less than thrilled to welcome me. I realize it was later in the evening but even when I left it was still open.

The dishes I ordered were mediocre at best. The shredded curry chicken shouldve just been titled "shredded curry tofu," as the flavor and texture did not taste like "real" fake chicken, haha. Basically, I couldve cooked this at home. The cabbage rolls were overpoweringly sweet. Before I had a chance to order a second tsingtao, I was handed the check. The prices weren't bad, but I still expected more, especially considering the location. Presentation was weak and service poor. I felt like I was an intruder rather than a paying customer.

Pros: Not expensive, Serves alcohol, Semi-decent selection
Cons: Poor service, Mediocre dishes, Poor presentation


3 Posted on 05 / 07 / 2009

Food was ok but it is not the best place I have been in China. What we liked the most was the restaurant itself.


5 Posted on 04 / 20 / 2009

I went with a local friend who had never been there. We both ordered a lot of mains from the menu (thankfully he is Chinese, as the staff is not English-friendly) and we both enjoyed immensely. The staff did make some suggestions (in Chinese), such as some dishes we planned to order were very similar. Best were some sort of "chicken" in sweet and sour, and a mock fish in sweet sauce, which was a nice surprise. Everything was yummy. The prices are very reasonable. Great location, around the corner from JW Marriott. Highly recommended.

Pros: Taste, Variety, Prices

On the shortlist

4 Posted on 04 / 17 / 2009

This place is good and if we lived closer, we'd probably go more often. The atmosphere is really nice and the service is usually friendly. Just don't go in close to closing time!

My favorite dish is the tofu with fake crab roe (which is actually something carroty). Yum. The eggplant in a clay pot and fried noodles are also very good. Last time we were there, we had a really nice seitan dish, but I can't remember the name.

The servers make good suggestions and will tell you when you're trying to order too much food. Sometimes they won't let you order something they think you won't like, so you either have to push for it or agree that they might know better. They do use a lot of mushrooms, but that's okay with me.

I'd stay away from the set menus, as it's actually better value for money to order a la carte. I haven't found this place to be any smokier than other restaurants in Shanghai. There are very few smoke-free places here. The attached shop sells some take-away food and sweets. I think this place is good to bring a group of friends as it's centrally-located and they serve beer, unlike many of the other veggie restaurants here. On the whole, I think there are tastier and healthier veg restaurants in Shanghai (Veggie Lifestyle and Lucky Zen Veg pop to mind), but Godly is definitely worth a visit.

Pros: good value, mock crab roe, beer
Cons: not the BEST, allows smoking

eat noodles here

3 Posted on 09 / 20 / 2008

the food here was ok, but I must admit the chicken I had really looked a little too much like chicken for me to appreciate, I could tell it wasn't, but the lengths they went through to get it to look like that kinda put me off, however I found the noodles to be really good, and I think a few other people have the same experience I had, I would actually have to say that the noodles I had were almost the best I had in a while, BUT that may be because I disliked the rest of the food.

Pros: Good noodles, Good value
Cons: mediocre food, menu is disturbing

convenient location, mediocre food

3 Posted on 04 / 05 / 2008

If you don't read Chinese, the place has the word "Godly" on the door. The dining area is split between one that serves dishes, and one that serves soup noodles. I've only been on the half with dishes, but the noodle half was more crowded. The food is fine, but the flavoring is uneven, either too salty or too bland, and they have a predilection for using mushrooms to excess, even for a mushroom lover. A veg fish with wine sauce dish turned out to be two kinds of mushrooms in a wine sauce. Come for the history of the location, but don't judge the quality of vegetarian Chinese food in Shanghai by this restaurant.

Pros: good location, reasonable prices
Cons: mediocre food, a lot of mushroom

Favorite dish at Gong De Lin

3 Posted on 03 / 01 / 2008

I was directed to this restaurant by two very enthusiastic Chinese women who were delighted that a foreigner was interested in vegan food. I went to the West Nanjing road site, though there are many others, including small take-home- portion stores. The best dish I've had there is the "tofu and fake crab meat". I find this extremely addicting. But, alas, it is the only really good thing I've discovered so far. I find most of the "meat" dishes leave something to be desired- not the right consistancy or flavor. But an order of tofu and a plate of stir-fried veggies along with a huge 4 RMB pot of tea is worth stopping for.

Pros: large portions, many locations, good atmosphere
Cons: inconsistant quality

Very Disappointing

2 Posted on 01 / 14 / 2008

We walked miles to this restaurant expecting a treat. Instead what we got was a quite possibly the worst vegetarian food we've ever experienced. The choice was huge, and although we knew it was mock meat we really didn't expect the hideous descriptions of the food, I can't remember the wording exactly but it mentioned sparrows and it put us off. The food looked unappetising and tasted extremely bland. The staff were verging on being rude.

Pros: Nice decor, easy to find
Cons: expensive, tasteless food, slightly unfriendly

nice restaurant

4 Posted on 07 / 13 / 2007

better than expected, and nice to get to somewhere that does not feel part of a chain.
as a previous review mentioned, the food was a bit salty. haowever it was still nice. very good staff, and felt very looked after. mixed menu of mock meat and veggie dishes, also has a takeaway deli counter next door.

Pros: good location, good service

Extremely salty

2 Posted on 01 / 31 / 2007

Staff wasnt helpful, food is extremely salty and full of MSG.
Smoking allowed in aircon environment!
Shame for this century old vegetarian restaurant.....

Cons: Extremely Salty, Everyone is Smoking, Food too oily

Good food, atmosphere, location, and price!!

4 Posted on 10 / 30 / 2005

Ate lunch here 10/31/05. House was packed, so I was sat with another single westerner. He finished a Chinese family of 3 was seated with me. This didn't bother me but could others. Resturant is modern and clean, with excellent prices and an english menu. I had a beef dish because they were out of chicken. The beef was the typical veg beef, not great but not terrible. Prices are great as long as you know what to order and don't go overboard (their noodle bowl is 12rmb)

Pros: Good food, Great location, Cheap!
Cons: Busy, Staff don't know english, Fake beef was the usual


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Last updated: 2013/08/27


Added: 2007/08/01


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