London has a lot of fried chicken shops. Sam Norris hails from Greenwich in Southeast London, but his chicken shop Wishbone in Shanghai roasts their birds. The idea for the shop came about after many trips to France with his wife Mavis, eating rotisserie chicken there, and feeling the need for that classic comfort food in Shanghai. While the shop opened in 2015, he's been in town much longer and was a regular at the original LoGO bar (R.I.P). You've probably seen him at Shelter or Arkham. Super nice dude.
How Sam got to Shanghai is a classic story: a one-day layover turns into one week, followed by an urge to come back. So dude comes back, asks if he can hang around the kitchen at Tentekomai and learn for 9-10 months, then returns to London for chef school and does stints cooking at some impressive London restaurants: Nobu, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, and Koya. Like many, he returns to Shanghai, this time cooking at Mr & Mrs Bund then helping to open Dogtown. Then he leaves to open his own place: Wishbone, whose Changde Lu shop is always busy. Unfortunately their Changle Lu shop just closed due to some permit issues, but we might see another Wishbone hatch sometime in 2016.
With that, here's his five favorite spots to eat and imbibe in Shanghai.
1. Tentekomai (Sinan Lu) 3F
The Dish: Pizza Jiaozi
"With Tentekomai being the first place I worked in Shanghai, I have to include them. As my initial pick (the Plum Miso Marinated Wagyu Beef Rib Skewers) has been taken off the menu as the quality of beef that they use has become too expensive to serve at a reasonable price, I have had to pick the pizza gyoza, which can only have been conceived in the fires of hell for their calorie content. They take two types of cheese and melt it down so it creates a crispy cheese layer with melted cheese still sizzling on top add the gyoza and bacon, peppers and serve with tabasco. I have been coming to eat in Tentekomai for at least six years without there being any change in quality in dishes; the only change has been their recent relocation to a much larger space above Cha's on Sinan Road. The food is always great and no one has a bad evening getting krunk on sake or soju whilst eating through the great small dishes which are the perfect aid to helping any night spiral out of control."
2. Haining Lu Snake Stand
The Dish: Deep Fried Water Snake
"Having been taken here by my brother-in-law when we had been working late one night in Wishbone, I can only describe it as one of the most shabby, oil stained street restaurants in the whole of Shanghai. So I am sure this will not be everyone's cup of tea but I have to include these most wonderful deep fried water snakes, which can only be described as the ultimate beer accompaniment. The super crispy batter covered with the signature seasoning and the tender white snake meat inside is on another level compared to any fried chicken I have tried, simply incredible.
I also love the fact that you sit in tiny tents with bare light bulbs above your head, whilst eating a dish that starts at 400rmb and goes up to 1500rmb for their signature soup, this is a ‘no bullshit’ dining experience!!"
3. Cha's (Sinan Lu)
The Dish: Deep Fried Prawns on Toast
"Cha's is definitely the restaurant I have frequented the most in Shanghai. Having eaten nearly everything on the menu on a couple of occasions, it's hard to pick a single item from their menu, but I have to say I love the prawn on toast dripping with the sweet and sour sauce. It's definitely one of the unhealthiest things I have eaten but so great at the same time. It's difficult to find the really typical Hong Kong style in Shanghai; it's usually just some substandard imitation of the classic dishes. My only problem is the sometime ridiculous queue that you have to endure to eat in Cha's."
4. Commune Social
The Dish: Everything we tried on our visit
"With the huge amount of talent Scott and Kim have it’s hard to fault anything that goes on in Commune Social. I feel like I am being transported back to London with the quality of dishes that are being put out. We basically go and order as many dishes as we can and try to squeeze as much food in to our body as we can. The standout dishes that I remember are the beetroot, whipped curd and gingerbread and the strawberry and scallops. It's just a great all round experience and I would recommend it to everyone."
5. Liquid Laundry
The dish: Their craft beer selection
"I know many people go here for the food and cocktails, sometimes forgetting about the great craft beer selection that is on offer. I mean, for me it's all about the beer that is painstakingly cared over. I don't think apart from the brew there is a place that puts this much effort into making Shanghai have something it can qualify as its own craft beer. With usually 7 different in house Liquid Laundry brands on tap, it's a great way to justify drinking all afternoon. I think what's clear here is that Liquid Laundry is run by people with immense passion for something that they love, and it reflects in the products that they create."