I went for a solo brunch over the Chinese New Year holiday, so I’m sure it was much quieter than it usually would be at brunch time. Consistently ranked as one of the best brunch spots, Bread Etc. was always one of those places I passed on foot but never went inside. It turned out to be a perfect place to sit and get some reading done. The atmosphere was lively still, and the crowd was a nice mix of people. The people near me consisted of a first date, a business brunch, and another guy reading a book. The servers came over right away with a menu, and the service was great. I always had a full glass of water and staff was always aware of who needed help.
I thought brunch was reasonable given the portion size and the fact that I wasn’t rushed out of the restaurant for flying solo. The Salmon Benedict (RMB 82) had a really nice helping of fish on it, the Flat White (RMB 35) used good coffee, and the Orange Juice (RMB 35) was really fresh.
In total, I spent RMB 152 on an extravagant brunch for one, but it’d be very easy to pop in to grab some bread downstairs and a coffee for a far lower price tag.
Summary: Bread Etc. is a great place to stop in for a coffee and a pastry or grab a table for a full meal. The space accommodates everything from lunch dates to business meetings. The food is delicious, fresh, and exactly what you’d expect—in a good way.
Overall, Lil Laundry isn’t much different from its older sister, Liquid Laundry. The service is consistently hit or miss, but I usually hit more often at Lil over Liquid. I think this is because when in closer proximity to the staff, it’s easier to flag them down. The menu looks surprisingly similar. It’s got a different font and its own style to make it look edgy (or something), but the classics stay the same. They still serve up the best value to quality ratio of mac and cheese in Shanghai, and the steak salad was cooked just the way I like it.
The location is conveniently located inside Shanghai Center, but it’s oddly quiet at random hours, and I just can’t figure out if there’s any rhyme or reason. Lunch seems to have a consistent smathering of people who work in the area, but dinner is really hit or miss. And something about the empty atmosphere at brunch doesn’t make it as cozy and lively as its counterpart.
Overall, Lil Laundry gets points for having better service, but the food is very close to / almost exactly the same as Liquid Laundry. Grabbing lunch from the office or dinner right after work? Lil for sure if you work in Jing’an. Literally any other occasion? Probably best to stay on a Liquid diet.
Wan Dao Japanese Teppanyaki is a restaurant to be taken seriously. If you plan on eating here over the weekend, I’d recommend getting a reservation. It’s often booked out, and their private rooms, which seat 10-12 people, are probably the best experience they offer, but they book out fast. For the price of RMB 380, you can really get your money’s worth provided you like meat, seafood, and booze. You’re welcome to eat your weight in sashimi, so you really can’t go wrong. Going with a big group is also beneficial to the variety you get when ordering.
So how does it work? We got a big group of friends together and ordered everything we could have possibly wanted off the menu. Among other things, we ordered sashimi (lobster, salmon, sea urchin, etc.), teppanyaki beef, foie gras, grilled shrimp, numerous vegetable dishes, and a few other random delicious things that came out after we told the staff to “bring us your favorite.” We were all drunk as skunks as well since the RMB 380 includes unlimited sake, beer, and plum wine. They were never slow about bringing it out, but the staff started bringing sake by the carafe. Eventually, the evening experience ended, and we had to put our shoes back on and hobble back out into Shanghai, but we’ll certainly be back.
Ramen never speaks to me the way a lot of other Japanese food does. It’s never struck me as super flavorful, but I’m also always saying that all Chinese noodles in Shanghai are bland. I used to live in Xi’an, so I was spoiled by flavorful spices, which is what I expect when I eat any sort of noodley dish from any country. For me, Ramen Samurai Ryu was a bit underwhelming but alright
If you’re a ramen person, however, the setup of the restaurant was quite nice. It feels hidden away and cozy while you munch on warming food. The menu has a number of Korean options as well. I’d also have to recommend the sparkling plum wine (RMB 35/glass), which was not a let-down. Overall, it’s a good atmosphere to enjoy a meal for under RMB 100 per person. I’d also say it’d be good for a first date as it’s casual but interesting, and you won’t break the bank on someone you don’t know that well.
My guess is that ramen lovers might thrive here a bit more than I did, but I wouldn’t be opposed to going back. I also like that there are QR codes at the table, and you can just go ahead and scan to pay when you’re ready. A nice touch of the 21st century.
With a hankering for something with cheese (what else is new), my friend and I stopped into Favorita Italian Wine Bar for dinner. It’s a really friendly neighborhood bar and restaurant, but it was a bit empty even for a Tuesday evening. I’m willing to bet that the outside seating is much fuller in the summer months. It’s a really relaxed environment, and the house wine was smooth and only RMB 25 per glass during their happy hour promo. The owner came by to talk to us, and we ordered the Burrata Cheese at his recommendation as it comes in fresh on Tuesdays. We were in heaven.
We also enjoyed the handmade pasta we ordered. The gnocchi was in just the right amount of cheese sauce. Favorita was honest about what was and wasn’t handmade. There was an attention to detail there in their small kitchen. I think the owner wanted the place to be a bar where people could just stop in for a drink after work, but instead Favorita appears to be moreso a restaurant—and there’s a lot of tough competition for Italian restaurants here in Shanghai. Overall, my friend and I agreed that we would certainly be back, but we do see the place as more of a restaurant than a neighborhood bar. We did enjoy the welcoming feel and talking to the owner for a moment who really brings the warmth to his own establishment. The food was fresh, wholesome, and good value. I'll also never say no to limoncello.
While I was sad to see QV leave its corner spot a few months ago, I’m glad that Popolo Group rebounded with a new Alimentari location. They’re still taking my money at a consistent rate. They’ve created a great little space that the Wuding strip needed. I can go in and grab a coffee, do some work, and leave with the most important of groceries… six types of cheese, prosciutto, and a bottle of Sambuca (if you’re me). I went to sample the actual food menu, and I was pleasantly surprised by the brunch. It’s a really fair price for what you get, and I’d recommend it.
I went for an order of Bacon Toast (RMB 55) and then a Caramelized Banana Waffle (RMB 55) because I wanted both, and I’m living the Shanghai dream over here. The staff did not judge me nor seem to care I ordered two dishes and a cookie for one, which makes me like them all the more. A normal person would be happy with one dish, but I feel that the salty/sweet balance really added to my lazy Sunday morning. I sat on my computer and did not have to talk to anyone. The atmosphere is busy but not loud, and it was good for people watching and getting a few things done.
It’s a good thing Tomatito easily has the best tapas in town because their service is only about 10% as good as the worst dish on their menu. I find that whenever I go there, I am torn between being aggravated that nobody is helping me but then eventually getting food to put in my mouth and forgetting that being agitated is an emotion I’m capable of feeling. My compliments to the chef who wields all the power to placate me.
Upon finally waving down a server, my friend and I opted to pay RMB 250 for a chef’s choice assortment of tapas. This is a really good deal for the quality and quantity of food you get. We enjoyed quite a range that included empanadas, calamari, cauliflower, steak, and a bruschetta thing. Wine was also fairly priced, but I eventually just had to ask they leave a carafe of water at the table because the tiny cups weren’t keeping me hydrated, and I wasn’t sure if the waitress had quit. We did have one issue with a large chunk of grizzle being in the empanada that was not edible and a bit off putting. To the wait staff’s credit, they did replace it along with the rest of the salami they dropped onto the floor. I’m reading this review back, and I realize I sound sassy, but I am really not a high maintenance restaurant visitor. Ultimately, it’s the taste that matters, and I’d recommend a visit.
Is Munchies the best thing on the Wuding Lu strip? Well, yes. Yes, it is. Did we arrive a little bit tipsy and order Shrimp Tacos (RMB 46), a Classic Ruben (RMB 43), a Cajun Shrimp Po’boy (RMB 46), a Texas Toast BLT (RMB 38) and a Berry Blast Smoothie (RMB 28)? Yes, we did. Did we wake up the next morning and think, “I spent too much money last night!” No, we absolutely did not. Because Munchies hits the spot for the right price for those who are already around the Wuding strip area. I probably wouldn’t travel exclusively for Munchies, but it’s the perfect way to end a night of drinking or grab a quick meal if you live in the area.
It’s consistently consistent, and I like that. There’s so much stuff on the menu to choose from, and it makes me really joyous that stuffed spuds are a thing on the menu. They also do all-day-breakfast, so when you haul out of bed at 4pm on Saturday, it doesn’t let you down like the rest of the Shanghai brunch scene by switching to the dinner menu. It’s cheap, it’s classic, and it’s in a great neighborhood. So go get your munch on.
I had never been to Roadhouse before. I always saw it when popping into Sofia for pizza on Beijing Xi Lu, but for whatever reason never gave it a try. On a cold, rainy weeknight in December, the lighting looked enticing, and it did turn out to be the perfect place for a quiet and cozy meal. The name doesn’t really give away what kind of food you can expect, but the menu is predominately Southeast Asian cuisine. It’s also got quite a list of craft beers ready to enjoy. Whether you’re in for a quick cheap beer or down to enjoy some Asian fusion, it’s not a bad spot. Western options are also available, so there’s a little bit of everything you could want to snack on at a bar.
I opted for a vegetarian curry. It was creamy and warming on a cold night. I also appreciated the prices here, as I was really full for under RMB 50. The cocktails and drinks are also really fairly priced, ranging from RMB 35-50. It’s rare to find such a good meal in a restaurant for this price in Shanghai, and there were a number of cheaper things on the menu. They also have an event space in the back and an overall nice vibe.
I’m a big fan of Barbarian for evening drinks. I go there regularly as I like that I don’t actually have to make decisions. You can simply tell the bartender what you’re in the mood for, and he or she will whip something up for you on the spot. Herbal-sweet-vodka-something? Sure. Sour-whiskey-floral-something? Done. The bar staff is great, and the price usually hovers around RMB 60 for uniquely crafted cocktails.
Barbarian is great for those of us who are trying to cut down on carbs. (Not me, but I’m happy for you keto-fiends.) The menu is really meat heavy, and you can’t really go wrong with meat on a stick. I ordered some BBQ Pork Ribs (RMB 98) as well as the Primitive Steak Salad (RMB 68). I’m really getting behind the salad, as a steak salad usually doesn’t have pumpkin or maple bacon dressing. It was a twist on the usual. Ribs were grilled to perfection.
I’d recommend Barbarian for the meat lover in the best of us. The prices are fair, and the food hits the spot. The downstairs has a distinctly cozy ambiance, but the upstairs terrace is a more open option before the weather gets too cool for even a heat lamp to override.
Because it was Friday, I decided that I deserved to sample a new bougie lunch set near my office. Pelikan runs a lunch deal for a starter + main for RMB 138 or a starter + main + dessert for RMB 168. I obviously went for the three course lunch because I’m worth it. I started with the Kale and Figs and ordered the Cod and Peach as my main. Everything I ordered felt healthy but also quite sweet. I can’t say that I totally expected cod to go well with peaches, but I was also pleasantly surprised there. The dessert was the star player, though. The Milk and Honey was a whole lot of honeycomb, and I’m all about that crunch.
The restaurant itself is lovely inside and offers diners a tropical vibe, which was just what I needed as it is getting colder. Overall, the place was trendy but also very comfortable. It wasn’t too crowded around lunch time, and the service staff were very friendly and attentive. I’m not sure if I’d want to pay the full menu prices to come back around dinner time, but the lunch menu does offer a lot of options to get to know Pelikan for a cheaper rate, and I’ll certainly be back.
As a big fan of the Popolo group in Shanghai, I knew I’d be in for a good meal at Bar Centrale. While Gemma is still my favorite choice in the group for Italian, Bar Centrale caters to a more casual crowd with affordable prices and accessible food. I went for the Spinach Pasta (RMB 78), while my friend opted for the Vesuvio Pizza (RMB 90). We also got two orders of Fried Emmental Balls (RMB 48) because we are greedy people who love cheese above all else, but we both conceded that one order probably would have been adequate. I regret nothing.
Aside from our elation regarding the fried balls of cheese, the pizza was a hit with my friend. It was everything you could want in a pizza and hit the spot. All ingredients are fresh from Italy, and you can see the wood fire grill from the main restaurant. The spinach pasta was also tasty, but I do feel like it is something I could make at home. Worse, it’s something I would make at home. And I hate cooking with a firey passion of a thousand burning suns. So, overall, good, but I wouldn’t order it again. There wasn’t anything special about it. Simple can be a good thing, but in Shanghai, flavors need to pop for a restaurant to be remembered.
Overall, I’ll certainly be back for dinner to meet some friends soon. The food was warming, the atmosphere lively, and I enjoyed it. Bar Centrale is where you go when you’re in the need for something aesthetically pleasing but comfortable.
I have a long standing appreciation for all of the Shanghai Funkas. When Funka del Sur popped up, I was elated to find all of my South American favorites on the menu. I always get a ceviche clasico (RMB 45) and alfajores (RMB 20) for dessert. You really can’t go wrong on their menu, and you really can’t go wrong on their various deals throughout the week. During the week until 8pm, delicious drinks are on the menu for RMB 50 and under. When I found out they have a RMB 100 all-you-can-eat meat and cheese deal, however, I decided to test it out for myself.
My friend and I arrived hungry with dreams of the manager coming over to say, “Sorry, you aren’t allowed to order any more meat and cheese.” That never happened. The friendly staff refilled our boards promptly every time. We made it through four rounds before tapping out. We felt like we did the best we could, but we really expected better of ourselves. Overall, we certainly got our money’s worth for a Monday. With great food, deals, and music, Funka del Sur is exactly what Jing’an needs. May their food and drink deals continue to keep us full and happy for a long time!
Masala Art was recommended by a number of people when I posted around my wechat groups asking for help finding an Indian restaurant with booths that wouldn’t mind my friend and I, uh, getting really comfortable for the long haul. It was still fancier than I wanted it to be, but I really can’t fault the place for being too nice. We were hungover and wanted a curry, and we didn’t want anything remotely bougie. They did have a booth on one side, and they didn’t appear to judge us as we both schlumped down into it. I think the restaurant had lovely decorations, and the staff were very well dressed, but it wasn’t the dive I was looking for in that moment. They did kindly tolerate our disheveled look as we ordered an obscene amount of food for two people.
Star players were the Banana Lassi (RMB 29), which came out really quickly to my dehydrated delight, and the Aloo Pudina Angara (RMB 49), which was all the starchy potato goodness I needed stuffed with cottage cheese and mint. It was the right amount of spicy for our mood. We also of course ordered multiple orders of garlic and butter nan (RMB 19/each). There were also a few different curries we ordered, with Butter Chicken Masala (RMB 69) showcasing just how basic we really are. Overall, we enjoyed the presentation of the food, the food itself, and the friendly staff. It’s where you should go for a moderately priced casual date-night or dinner with some buds. And maybe don’t wear sweatpants like we did.
Pierogi Ladies 2.0 opened a couple of weeks ago, and I went on the day of their opening for their all-you-can-eat pierogi deal. It was too good to be true. The people of Shanghai spoke loudly when they bought out the stock. It wasn't a total loss of a first visit, though. I enjoyed the adorable new location by sitting on one of the in-restaurant swing seats drinking buy-one-get-one Polish beer instead. It's definitely a place that's welcoming enough for a hangout. Forget coffee shops, Pierogi Ladies is the new place to hang. They're running all kinds of deals throughout the week. Pop in for happy hour Tuesday-Thursday from 5-7pm for drink deals or buy-one-get-one-free on pierogi every Tuesday from 6-9pm.
I went back a week later to order the classic pierogi, feta and spinach pierogi, and beetroot and goat cheese pierogi. Choosing my favorite would be far too difficult. Each plate came with a bowl of sour cream, so you can rest assured that you will have enough to get that perfect texture on your flavor palate. I'm keen to go back to try their weekend brunch, which is RMB 98 or 88 depending on your choice and includes pierogi with a number of delicious looking sides. It's not all delicious pierogi, though. There's also soups, salads and desserts to sample at this adorable little lane location.
I'm a big fan of Poke Bowls being the latest food craze. They're healthy, filling and flavorful. I often pop into Little Catch Poke Cafe for lunch or dinner as it's close to my office, and I always leave feeling pretty good. The restaurant is super casual, and you order at the counter before going to sit wherever you like. I think it'd be a good spot for groups most nights as it's usually most crowded during the lunch rush. If you stick to just one thing on the menu, the average price is RMB 60-70 for a dish. It can get a little pricey if you're like me--always adding extra avocado and throwing in a coconut water (RMB 20) I probably don't need.
My two favorite poke bowls are the Salmon Guacapoke (RMB 75) and the Hawaiian Tuna (RMB 60). The flavor combo of tuna, soy, ginger, onion, fried garlic, roe, scallions, and cashews makes me happiest, but Guacapoke is just fun to say when you order it. There are really no bad choices at Little Catch Poke Cafe. The seafood is always fresh, and I always leave here feeling like I did something good for my body even if I end up grabbing one of those Strictly Cookies (RMB 12) they leave up at the counter.
I stayed in town over Golden Week, and I went to five brunches. While I was starting to get a bit delirious over what felt like my millionth egg of the week, The Commune Social blew all of the other brunches out of the water. From the beautiful yet simple decor inside to the friendly service, I was in a really good mood before I even got my food. The portions were incredibly generous, and we definitely ordered too much.
Their brunch menu works by letting the customer choose three dishes for RMB 188. This is more than enough food for one, and all of the dishes are portioned generously. I got too excited by the a la carte menu as well, so we also ordered the Beef Tar Tar (RMB 98) and the 'Tongue and Cheek' Empanada (RMB 98). That amounted to four dishes per person plus a smoothie each. It was the last day before we had to go back to work, so it was necessary and delicious.
From the brunch menu, we sampled potato gratin, seared scallops, lamb shoulder, and smoked salmon + potato pancake. It was all really rich, but it was easy to tell the restaurant was using fresh ingredients and complimentary flavors. I can't honestly believe that it took me this long to get over to The Commune Social, and I can easily imagine it being lovely for anything from a date night to a night alone with a good meal and a book. The food was warming, delicious, and well thought out. I'm looking forward to many more meals here.
It's been tried and tested and reviewed many times before, but I can't resist professing my love for this tiny little spot publicly on the internet. Greg Jurksztowicz is the man of all of our dreams thanks to his cheesy and heavenly creation, Co. Cheese Melt Bar. He's literally hit the nail on the head with everything I like in a dining establishment--it's a comfortable neighborhood bar that sticks to your stomach. Even if you're not big on grilled cheese, it's still a great place to hang out with a beer. But if you're not into grilled cheese, you probably don't deserve this place.
Open and airy in the summer and cozy in the winter, Co. Cheese Melt Bar is after my own heart. You can select sandwiches from the menu to enjoy incredible flavor combinations you never thought possible, or you can order your favorite type of cheese melted on perfect sourdough. Greg wasn't even judgmental that one time I asked for a double portion of brie. You see, there's no real reason to ever request double portions of cheese at this place, as your sandwich is going to come out dripping in cheesy goodness either way, but he just seemed to know it was that kind of day for me. No questions asked. This guy makes the bar what it is--welcoming and warm.
On a recent visit with a friend, we decided to go full cheese monster. We started with a cheese board (RMB 100) that came with three cheeses, olives, pickles, walnuts and bread. We both also went full throttle with large sandwiches (RMB 65), which was silly because the small (RMB 50) is already a really large sandwich. We got the #4 (tortilla chips, refried beans, fried chorizo, jalapeno salsa, avocado, and cheddar) and #9 (Kraft Mac & Cheese and American cheese) in order to swap flavors. Yeah, that's right. You can get Mac & Cheese fried up in a sandwich. Did I mention this place is the restaurant of dreams?
Be sure to get down here for affordable eats after work or before a night out. Grab a beer and hang with friends, or order a Pickleback (whiskey shot chased with pickle juice) and make some new ones. I just can't recommend this place enough.
Stone Brewing has been open for just over a month, and I've already been three times due to the proximity to my house. It's good food and great beer at a fair price. When I had some out-of-towners craving some classic western food after a long trip through the countryside, I decided to take them for Sunday brunch at Stone Brewing.
Stone Brewing is the new neighbor to The Cannery, and for whatever reason, I never get served at The Cannery, and I spend most of my meal chasing down service staff. I had been joking that I hope this bad luck didn't rub off on Stone Brewing next door, and I probably should have kept my thoughts to myself because on the 3rd visit, that's exactly what happened.
We waited 40 minutes for drinks in the restaurant that was only about half full, and nobody took our food order for the first hour despite requesting that someone come by the table to help us out. It was borderline comical. We weren't being horrible about it, either, though at a certain point, I had to ask to speak with the manager. This is where Stone Brewing turned it around.
We got a full apology, and the restaurant compensated us for all of our drinks. This sort of outcome isn't super common in Shanghai, and we honestly weren't expecting it. Obviously, we were happy about it and ready to enjoy the atmosphere and move on to the good food. Our table enjoyed the Crab Cakes Benedict (RMB 108), The YuYuan Breakfast Sandwich (RMB 58), The Hangover Burger (RMB 88), and Chicken and Waffles (RMB 98). The portions are large, and the taste kept us all in a good mood.
Overall, I will absolutely be back to Stone Brewing, and I'm hoping that the service issues are a bit of a one-off. They've got everything I like in a neighborhood joint--good atmosphere, a tasty variety of food options, and fair prices. I'm sure they're just still working out the kinks as they are a new restaurant, but I'm hoping they'll be sticking around Shanghai for a while to come.
I have been in love with Husk since the first time I tasted their brunch about a year ago, but when I started a new job by West Nanjing, I entered the wonderful world of Husk lunch sets. At RMB 138 for two courses and a drink, it just might be the highlight of my work day. While the price is a bit steep to be doing daily, I like going once a week when I'm feeling bougie. It's absolutely worth it, and I leave feeling ready to conquer the rest of my day. Well, I leave feeling full and happy, at least.
After four hours of starting at a computer screen, the exterior of Husk is a welcome sight with its adorable garden entrance and relaxed color scheme. Once inside, the restaurant is upscale but not pretentious. They are also currently on Chope, so you might as well make a reservation to collect those Chope discount dollars--but lunch time isn't so busy that a reservation is necessary.
The meal itself is quite heavy for someone who has another four hours of work time ahead of themselves, but I'm a grown woman, and I know what I'm doing. My favorite lunch combinations are the Grilled Calamari with hummus and red wine vinaigrette to start and then ordering Gnocchi with cheese, bacon, fried egg, and tomato sauce to really feel like you ate well. I also highly recommend the Crisp Sesame Shrimp Salad with radicchio, feta, and cucumber as well as the Braised Australian Lamb Shank. I'm a champion, so I managed to finish it all, but the average lunch-goer might have to take home some leftovers. All lunches are accompanied by warm bread and an olive oil and tomato sauce for dipping. Wash it all down with a Rose Lemonade or Cucumber Kiwi for the full set experience. A third course can be added which takes the price up to RMB 148, but I think dessert would make me fall asleep at my desk after waddling out of the restaurant.
The service staff are friendly and attentive, and I highly recommend popping in from work when you're feeling fancy on a Friday. Or any day for that matter. Husk also offers brunch, dinner, tea, and a fairly priced happy hour suitable for any number of occasions.
"Why are so many of my friends vegetarian?" is a question that keeps me up at night. Good meat is obviously the most important part of any meal, but when it's time to say goodbye to a veggie friend leaving Shanghai, I just had to mentally prepare to be disappointed with dinner.
Two bites into the Stir-Fried Eggplant (RMB 46), which looked to be a bit more deep fried than stir fried with a delicious sweet and sour sauce, I figured this vegetarian restaurant might not be a total waste of my stomach space.
One large bite of the Steamed Gluten with Black Fungus and Peanuts (RMB 29) and I couldn't even whine about being at a vegetarian restaurant as I was too busy stuffing my face.
When the first fake meat dish came out, I was a little wary, but the Vegetarian "Steak" with Black Pepper Sauce (RMB 49) ended up being pretty filling. Turns out all this tofu has a pretty high protein content. I'd still choose actual steak over the fake stuff, but if I stop comparing this dish to real meat, the flavors really hold their own.
Why were all of my favorite dishes so brown? I don't know.
Typically, I enjoy leaving a good meal feeling almost sick-full, but all of the vegetarian food left me feeling content-full. This is probably how normal people function at a restaurant. If it hadn't been for the numerous Tsingtao Beer (RMB 18) rounds, we could have easily escaped feeling good about ourselves for under RMB 100 per person.
The atmosphere inside is relaxed, with a mix of locals and expats alike. I'd be willing to guess that many of the patrons live in the area and decided to pop in for a quick bite. There's also an outside area available that I'm sure will be lovely when Shanghai stops being the temperature of a furnace
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.