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  • Atmosphere: This bistro was conveniently situated right in the middle of JingAn temple in Kerry Center. It was a bit hard to find as I strolled from the south side to the north side of the mall but the restaurant was actually outside of the mall. The bistro was a bit crowded and noisy but it was still acceptable once we squished into our little cozy corner.

    Food: The bistro mainly served a wide variety of drinking snacks which were almost like tapas, and a handful of main dishes including the infamous baked stuffed chicken and a few pasta selections. To start, we ordered a few drinking snacks such as sautéed sausage, sautéed mushroom, sautéed Brussels sprouts with bacon, baked eggplant with cheese and mussels in white wine reduction. The sausage, mushroom and Brussels sprouts were really average but surprisingly I think the eggplant was charcoal grilled before it was baked in the dish with cheese because there was a pungent smokey flavor to it. The mussels were very delicate as there were tiny pieces of garlic and herbs hidden inside the folds of the mussels. The white wine reduction caught all the essence of the mussels and I almost needed a piece of baguette to dip into the sauce.

    For a boost of protein we ordered sautéed squid, ossobuco and the baked stuffed chicken. The sautéed squid was the perfect drinking snack since it was very well seasoned and the squid was so fresh that it was almost crispy. The ossobuco was such a good deal. I had never had ossobuco this cheap before and I was glad the quality was not compromised simply because of the low price point. It was everything an ossobuco needed to be-- chunks of meat falling off the bone with a melting bone marrow in the middle. I realized it was not a popular item in the bistro and I was sure the ossobuco had been sitting in the stewing pot for the entire day.

    The highlight of the night was the most popular item in the bistro. According to my brief observation, almost 70% of the customers of the night ordered it. The chicken skin was so crispy as the chicken was baked to perfection and the chicken fat was melted in the long baking process. The chicken skin almost fell off the chicken as I bit into it. Even though the chicken was baked for such a long time, it remained very juicy. The chicken was stuffed with risotto and the risotto was so flavor packed as it absorbed all the oil and juices from the chicken.

    We ended the night with caramel cream puff, which was yet another highly popular item in the bistro and it was worth every ounce of fat it brought to my belly. The puff was not saggy from the cream at all and the caramel was crackling was I sinked my teeth in it. It was like biting into a thin but hard layer of candy.

    Service: We were scrambled into the corner at first and it was a bit hard for us to catch the attention of the waiters but in general we did not have any problem in getting what we needed. As the bistro cleared out a bit, the waiters were very diligent in refilling water too.

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  • suzyd_ on Abbey Road
    20 Jan 2020

    Atmosphere: Surprisingly busy for a Wednesday evening. Such is the draw of their weekly cordon bleu night, I guess. Can't deny the allure of a breaded meat slab and a drink for 108rmb. If daily specials are your kind of economical party, they have one for almost every day of the week (88rmb burgers on Thursdays!), as well as a Happy Hour with cheap-ish drinks. Wine will still cost you around 40 kuai, though.

    The clientele when I visited were exclusively American and European expats. There’s sport on the TV,  a smoking area outside and a classic selection of gummed-up Heinz bottles to splurt on your fries. Essentially it’s exactly what you’d expect from a place called Abbey Road, except that the food leans more towards the European than the classically British.

    Speaking of…

    Food: Abbey Road’s menu almost exclusively offers cheesy, creamy, meaty foods. Want a schnitzel? Get one stuffed with cheese! Ordered the rosti? You’ll need to dig down through the car tyre-thick layer of melted generic cheddar to find the oily potato shreds.

    If your cheese obsession has moved beyond simply using it as a garnish, they also offer fondue sets for 248rmb, so you can eat an entire pot of the stuff for dinner. What a time to be alive in Shanghai.

    We tried the vegetable rosti for 75rmb, which absolutely fulfilled its cheesy depiction on the picture menu, and a schnitzel topped with a creamy mushroom and bacon sauce. One thing I quite enjoyed is that, instead of fries or wedges on the side, you can ask for spatzl (little buttery dumplings) instead. They’re very cute and fairly good.

    This was unsurprising considering the sheer amount of dairy on both plates, but we found the food very oily. Both plates needed ketchup to take the edge off. If you’re into Eurostodge, though, this could be just the spot for you.

    Service: Staff were absolutely fine, and exactly what you’d expect from this type of place. Food and drinks were pretty prompt, and they helped the table behind ours to choose different drinks when the women there mentioned that their first choices were a little too strong.

    I’d note that the price is a little high for this sort of food. Mains start at 75rmb, but they shoot all the way up to 200+ if you’re going for steak or a fondue. At that level, I’d expect something a little smarter and better-executed than the very chain-pub-style food on offer. It’s just around the corner from me, though, so I’m sure I’ll go back at some point if I need a melted cheese fix.

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  • To many, Chinese barbecue – or shaokao – is something best enjoyed while sitting on a plastic stool out on the street, after and along with a few cold beers. Hao Jiu Yi Qian (full name Hao Jiu Yi Qian Yang Rou Chuanr) is a chain that aims to recreate that kind of revelry indoor, since most of those outdoor operations have mostly been cleaned up.

    That means happy staff, bright lights and music that can come on a little – or way – too strong. It’s not the place for a quiet meal, more the place for a boozy Friday night gathering with friends. Come here if you want to squeeze into a six person booth, down cold pints of cheap Chinese Budweiser, and eat lots of meat on a stick.

    Also, every table receives complimentary cans of fresh air from Inner Mongolia, which has a pleasant, vaguely grassy smell. Make of that what you will.

    Food: If you’ve ever enjoyed Chinese barbecue before, you’ll know what’s on offer here – various meats, vegetables and more, liberally oiled and seasoned, served on skewers and cooked over coals. Here, it’s prepared at your table, with a machine that manually rotates the skewers constantly until they’re ready, when staff remove them and add them to a rack for you to grab at.

    It’s not the same as eating shaokao on the roadside, but it’s the closest you’re going to get downtown, and it has it’s highlights. The quality of the ingredients themselves is good, and the pair of dry seasonings that they hand you in sachets to dump on your plate – one spicy, one not – pack a bunch of flavor. The whole eggplant is a must. Standard pork, beef and lamb skewers are the highlights. As beer snacks, they’re almost as flawless as Japanese yakitori or Korean BBQ. Get the cold edamame to start, which arrive drenched in soy sauve, vinegar, chili and garlic. They’re probably the best I’ve ever had.

    Service: Service is clearly something that these guys are trying to do well. Free snacks while you order, attentive staff flipping your skewers and refilling your beers – they’re aiming for a kind of Haidilao-lite, which they generally manage to hit.

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  • Atmosphere: The restaurant was perfect for a romantic date night and social dining as it was lighted with flickering yellow candle flame instead of big harsh light bulbs. The super high ceiling and the carpeted floor gave a very classy touch to the restaurant. Besides, there were a lot of Italian ornaments such as the Moka pot tower by the bar and the mega Campari bottle which reminded me of my midsummer night dream in Italy.

    Food: The food was so mesmerizing that I went back three times in a month because I just could not get enough of it. We had insalata caprese, octopus salad and a plate of fried seafood to start. When I was in Capri this summer, I had insalata caprese everyday and I also visited a buffalo mozzarella factory in Caiazzo so I knew how hard it was to import quality and fresh buffalo mozzarella into China. The buffalo mozzarella did not fail me one single bit, just as I cut it open, it was oozing buffalo milk. The cheese curd was very elastic as it gave me an extra bite before it unleashed buffalo milk in my mouth. It was my first time seeing the whole uncut mozzarella served on a plate. It was absolutely photogenic as it looked like a giant shining pearl on the table but it would be easier for us to eat if the cheese ball was sliced ahead of time. The tomato slices in the salad were nevertheless very fresh and of top quality but they were so small I would almost call them cherry tomatoes. The only comment I had on the salad is the inadequacy of fresh basil leaves or basil reduction. An Italian chef once told me insalata caprese should have an equal significance of the the three colorful ingredients just like an Italian flag.

    The warm octopus salad was much desired for the autumn weather as it was charcoal grilled and smoked to perfection while it remained tender and slightly chewy. The mashed potato was magically creamy. For a few moments I thought that was potato flavored whipped cream instead. There were also some croutons on top to add a crisp to the bite and some pickles to balance out the smokiness of the octopus legs.

    On the other hand, I would not recommend the fritto misto (fried seafood) as the shrimps were not fresh and the shells tasted almost fishy. It tasted as if they were using those forever frozen mixed seafood but I was expecting more at this price.

    For the main dish we got a 1.2kg angus T bone steak to share and it was to die for. We loved our steak medium rare and it was not overcooked or under cooked at all. There must be a very stringent control of temperature, cooking time and method. I absolutely adored how the surface of the steak was crispy as I was tempted to bite right into the steak instead of cutting it into smaller pieces.

    Besides, we ordered a duck ragu pappardelle and an ossobuco with risotto. Nothing beats freshly made pasta with stewed meat. Everything was perfect except that the portion was just a little bit too small to satisfy my carbohydrate cravings. The juices of the duck ragu was thick enough to linger on the pappardelle and the little diced duck meat would often be trapped in the rolled up pasta to give the best power bite of the dish.

    Til this date I am still reminiscing about the ossobuco, especially the bone marrow in the middle. The meat was literally falling off the bone, it was a salty version of floss candy. No chewing was required as it melted in my mouth. The saltiness and oiliness of the ossobuco was the perfect match with the hearty and creamy risotto. The dish was surprisingly filling and I think it was best to share it with friends.

    A slight delight on the side was the zucchini. It was a thick cross-section cut of a zucchini. I had never seen a zucchini served like this before. More importantly, it was adequately seasoned and sautéed.

    We had a tiramisu and a Mont Blanc for dessert. The tiramisu was standard but the Mont Blanc was a surprise as there was ice cream inside the chestnut purée!

    Service: The service was impersonal. The restaurant was inside of a hotel called the Middle House so there was a doorman holding an umbrella and opening the door for me the moment I got off my car. There were two staff constantly stationed at the front door to handle bookings and seatings. At the dining table, there was another flight of staff serving water and bread, giving you the menu and answering questions on the daily specials. We ordered a lot of wine and there was a waiter who was constantly around to refill my wine.

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  • Rating 2 Rating 2 Rating 2 Rating 2 Rating 2

    on Egg Price per Person: 80 Rmb

    terebikun on Egg
    16 Jan 2020

    Atmosphere: I swear I've been shown apartments with this exact floor plan. Still, they make it work with the usual tricks: a simple color scheme of brown wood tones and eggshell white, cozy lighting, and chalkboards galore. The open kitchen does, however, make it painfully clear when the staff is just standing around instead of, say, making your food.

    Food: My first experience with Egg couldn’t have been more perfect: stopping in during a sunny afternoon and being met with excellent service, a delicious Vietnamese egg coffee, and one of the best breakfast sandwiches I’ve ever had. While their Bloody Mary was a little chunky for my taste, and I still don’t agree with the fusion-y notion to make it with mala spice, I have to respect that it’s one of the very few Marys served properly spicy that one can find in the whole city.

    My second visit was very different. Once my order had been finally put in (more on that in The Service), I have to assume my drinks were then rushed, because my Pumpkin Spice Latte was an overspiced mess that left nutmeg on my tongue long after finishing. My Bloody Mary luckily acted as palate cleanser, and salvaged some of the experience before I received the Biscuit Benedict, which was already cold by the time I was eating. Points in their favor: the scallion buttermilk biscuits made in-house were surprisingly decent, and ideal for mopping up the perfectly poached eggs (at least they got the eggs right). The ham is cut thick enough to give it a satisfying chew, and each benny comes with a generous portion of it.

    Service: Despite being nearly empty, service was slow and then proceeded to forget my order, only remembering after 30 minutes to check back in. For something like this I don’t expect some sort of compensation, but the lack of even an apology was a little insulting. After eating, I ordered a black coffee (they were out of gin for the Cinammon Bun Rum which I was curious about) which I -again- waited 30 minutes for, until realizing once more the order hadn’t been put in so I just paid and left. I know dips in service are to be expected, we shouldn't expect restaurants to be 100% consistent all the time, blah blah blah, but being forgotten TWICE is pretty hard to forgive, no matter how good your breakfast sandwich was the one time.

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  • Atmosphere: There was a massive dry age cabin in the middle of the restaurant with cuts of steaks waltzing round it. Nothing could go wrong with a show case of steaks of considerable virtuosity. There was also a well equipped bar with a nicely lit display of bottles but sadly it was pretty empty.

    Food: We ordered an USDA dry aged rib eye steak and a beef brisket burger to share. Before frying the steak, the waiter brought the cut of steak on a big marble stone plate and asked if we liked the cut. It was such a personal experience. The steak was not very thick and I believed it made it even harder not to overcook the steak since I liked my steak medium rare and nothing more than that. I reckoned it was the ultimate test of the chef's skills and they nailed it in making the perfect steak. The steak was well seasoned with a generous amount of pink rock salt and freshly grounded pepper too. Since the steak was dry aged, there was a remarkable depth of beefy flavor and tenderness in it. The flavor did not just go away as I swallowed the steak, it lingered onto my breath and it remained there to give you an aftertaste until I sipped some red wine or water. There was also some baked potato and tomato on the side which were excellent in balancing off the oiliness of the steak.

     


    The beef brisket burger was a bomb. I have never found beef brisket burgers this good in Shanghai and I was so glad I finally found a quality fix so close to home and work, and at a reasonable price as well. The beef brisket was loaded with juices and barbecue sauce. It went hand in hand with the caramelized onion on top and the chopped lettuce at the bottom. The bun was toasted just right and there was a trace of salt on the plate in case you want an extra punch of flavors.

     


    The burger came with some thickly cut fries but I didn't know about it ahead of time so I ordered an extra side of thinly cut fries. Both of them were excellent and were scotching hot and fresh when they were served.

    Service: The service was impeccable and impersonal. The waiters were very attentive and detail oriented as to understanding the needs of customers. They knew when to bring napkins and ketchup on their own initiative. They knew that we were sharing the steak and burger so they offered to cut everything into halves. It was very thoughtful of them.

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  • Xing Yuan Yuan is a Shanghainese-focused Chinese join on the corner of Panyu and Fahuazhen Lu. It’s nicely decked out with classical Chinese illustrations on the wall which belies its very friendly pricing, but don’t get it twisted – this isn’t really an upmarket place. Rather it’s a classic, at times rowdy neighborhood-favorite kind of place. Its usually busy, portions are huge, and you’re looking at roughly RMB 80 each for a dinner for two, likely with leftovers. Solid Dianping ratings.

    Last time I went, there was a group of young adults who burst into song not once but twice in baijiu-addled revelry. whether that sounds the kind of thing that to you makes a restaurant seem homely or a nightmare probably tells you whether this is the kind of place you’ll want to hit up.

    With so many Chinese restaurants on every street, it can be hard to tell which ones actually merit a visit with a grueling process of trial and error. In this neighborhood, this on is worth trying.

    Food: The menu is largely Shanghainese staples with a smattering of Sichuan dishes at the back and a few bougie, eye-wateringly expensive novelty items like turtle soup. That said, it doesn’t feel like it hues particularly close to one province or cuisine, instead offering reliable Chinese standards that make up for a lack of subtlety with a bunch of flavor. It can be hearty, spicy, anf warming in equal measure. Great for groups, too; portions are huge and everyone’s favorite dish will probably be found somewhere.

    Highlights include round ‘cups’ of bread served around a bowl of pickles, which you fill them up with. Oily, spicy, and endlessly satisfying. Others are the simple “beef pot”, hunks of tender beef served in a boiling soup with cabbage and glass noodles, soup of real, funky tofu and aged Chinese ham, and of course hongshao rou. It’s the kind of place that won’t have you seeing fireworks but more than does the job if you’re in the neighborhood. I live nearby, and it’s a regular.  

    Service: Service is just fine. Staff are often busy, but they’ll keep you topped up with hot water and never seem to forget a dish or mess any orders up. Can’t really ask for more than that when you’re paying less than a hundred per person.

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  • Atmosphere: Having worked in the same Old Shanghai neighbourhood on Huangpi nan Lu for over 10 years, our local lunch choices have have gone from dining wasteland to options overload as shopping centres and development has sprung up around us.  Within the shiny new LuOne Mall, Fuk Luk House is our new favourite local.

    On first impressions I was fooled that a longstanding Hong Kong name had opened its door in Shanghai, but alas Fuk Luk is a brand new restaurant with local owners.  Named after the feng shui gods of wealth, prosperity and longevity, Fuk Luk Sau are three wise men whose miniature statuettes greet you on entry.

    Food: The lunch menu is a mix of dim sum standards as well as some quite refined and contemporary variations.  All are fresh and flavourful.  Our benchmark of any dim sum meal are the steamed Shrimp dumplings (Har Gau). Four decent plumplings crunch with a sweet and light bounce.  Similarly, the bbq pork rice noodle roll was fragrant with hints of coriander and vegetable.

    Roast duck is about the only roast I’ve seen in a Chinese restaurant, but at Fuk Luk, we had to try the Roasted Vegetables with Black Truffle. The duck was excellent - crispy, golden, and served with sweet and sour plum sauce which tempers the gamey-ness of the bird. The roasted vegetable was a healthy dose of caramelised wilted zhi mao cai with a subtle truffle undercurrent.

    My highlight of the meal was the largest jiaozi I’ve ever eaten.  Expecting a regular Xiao Long Bao soup dumpling, the Fish Soup Dumpling is actually an individual bowl of seafood consommé containing a giant jiaozi filled with shrimp, clam and pork. 

    Service: I’ve eaten at Fuk Luk several times now, so i assume the three Wise Men are doing their jobs well.  And the food has always been a consistently high standard  The restaurant is stylish, spacious and airy flooded with daylight from giant windows, making this a great lunch venue.  Mall dining can be hit and miss - Fuk Luk House manages to deliver a relaxed meal with high quality service and food.

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  • Rating 4 Rating 4 Rating 4 Rating 4 Rating 4

    on Vin Vie Price per Person: 250 Rmb

    Atmosphere: Have you ever wondered what it would be like if a French bistro and Japanese izakaya had a baby? Vin Vie answers that question in a unique and great place to check out in Gubei.

    The interior deliver the same feeling. The main seating are feels like a French bistro complete with empty wine bottles and an Amelie poster. But the back bar area is completely Japanese with a draft Asahi machine, bar seats and chef cooking skewers on an open grill.

    Food: This is probably less fusion and more mash up. They aren’t really combining French and Japanese flavors but rather presenting classics from both cuisines as independent dishes. Thankfully, the edamame and foie gras are still separate dishes, and you cannot order a shot of sake in your Bordeaux. But you can still have all of the above individually and they do a pretty good job in delivering the shared values from both cultures of getting your group tipsy while sharing great food.

    We went heavier on the Japanese side and were not disappointed. It’s pretty basic Japanese bar food done well, with the chicken liver skewers and the grilled roe special standouts. We also dabbled on the French side of the menu with the roast chicken and French fries being table favorites.
     
    There was also a decent wine selection which is not expected with Japanese food. Overall, the concept can be a bit confusing, but it works. We had a great meal and the place was packed on a Tuesday night with mostly Japanese speaking small groups.

    Service: The service was good. As with many Japanese places, there were multiple menus and not all were in English or Chinese, but the waiter spent time to explain the dishes to us and make recommendations based on what we typically like. 

    The food came out quickly and the service was prompt even when the restaurant filled up and all tables were taken. 

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  • Rating 4 Rating 4 Rating 4 Rating 4 Rating 4

    on GREEN & SAFE (Xintiandi) Price per Person: 300 Rmb

    Atmosphere: Tucked away in a corner of the Xintiandi strip, Green & Safe gives the appearance of a quaint farm to table restaurant with outdoor seating and a small first floor space. Nonetheless, if you ask for The Bunker, its version of a speakeasy, or find your way down the corridor and up the stairs to the second floor, you will find much more.

    The ambience and decor are akin to its fare, New American & simple minimalism. The farm to table or farm to fork craze that took the States by storm is alive and well in this restaurant with this theme as the focal point. Guests will feel welcomed and the prices won’t scare diners away, even though they are situated in the middle of Xintiandi.

    Food: The menu is diverse from different selections of steaks, pasta, pizza & all day brunch to Thai dishes like green curry & pork krapaw to Spanish Paella Valenciana.

    Using a word from its namesake, Green + Safe is exactly that: it is a safe option to take out of town guests to. There are definitely better, although a little more expensive options along the Xintiandi strip. The porcini mushroom pizza with black truffle that we ordered (98 rmb) and the thai beef salad (68 rmb) are worth another order at best, although you will definitely have had better elsewhere in the city (of course, Mercato's truffle pizza is on a completely different stratosphere). My girlfriend ordered the holiday special with friends. Nothing particularly stood out as eclectic and newsworthy, both good or bad. Thus, it is evident why this will remain your safe option if all else fails. With a menu big enough for the entire table, this restaurant will cater to expats and locals alike.

    Service: Besides a decent wait and a couple drinks at the Bunker until the entire table was ready, the service was attentive and prompt. Green & Safe is certainly in a competitive area of Xintiandi real estate, but guests will definitely keep coming back for the value & variety. 

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SmartReviews is SmartShanghai’s crack squad of amateur reviewers, eating their way around the city and writing about it. They have been chosen from a large pool of applicants and given a set of strict guidelines to follow to make sure their reviews are honest, informed and fair to both potential customers and the restaurants themselves.

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