Anita is a twenty-something Kiwi navigating her way bite by bite around Shanghai. She's passionate about food, the story it tells and always eager to learn about new flavours. Some of her favourite gram accounts are: The Australian Gourmet Traveller, Liz Climo and The Dogist.
Atmosphere: After taking off with a bang, Together has survived more than a year in the fiercely competitive Shanghai F&B industry and after sampling their lunch menu I can see why. Dreamed up by some of Shanghai’s well-known culinary giants the restaurant follows a familiar path of French-Asian fusion cuisine. The space is simple and sophisticated. Think clean lines, pale wood and a brick clad courtyard, which gives it a warm and inviting vibe. Inside, diners get a peek at how the action unfolds with an entire row of seating that overlooks the open kitchen.
Food: To me Together stood out because of their flavours. The combinations of ingredients were well paired, showcasing a playful mix of French and Asian style cooking. Bomb sauces and perfect seasoning. You only need one bite of the desserts to tell that there is a mastermind behind these creations. Nothing too fancy, just a selection of classics done exceptionally well.
Dishes of mention:
Crispy chicken with celeriac puree and bacon – lathered in an outstanding sauce
Miso glazed salmon with broccolini – miso glaze was beautifully sweet atop the crispy salmon. Pockets of a rich mole-like sauce took the broccolini to another level!
Fries – well seasoned and seriously crispy, garnished with what appeared to be a sprinkling of a furikake salt – YUM!
Salted Caramel ice cream with bruleed banana – nailed it.
Chocolate brownie – incredibly decadent with a mousse-like texture.
Sadly there isn't a huge selection for vegetarians and vegans on the menu, but I'd be intrigued to see if they were flexible with adapting certain dishes on request.
Service: If it isn’t obvious already I left Together in a really good mood despite it being a relatively pricey lunch. The service was pleasant and well timed, a successul execution of fusion cuisine. While the portions look small don’t be fooled, the richness in flavour will leave you feeling satisfied. What can I say, I’m itching to go back and see what the dinner menu has to offer.
Yong Ping lane is a cool little space. A maze-like courtyard where you’ll find a number of eateries around every corner. One of these being Styx; a play on words to highlight the main style of cooking. The menu is a relatively novel concept where a large focus is on skewer-style cooking seen in many different countries rather than a single cuisine. In saying that it would be inaccurate to describe it as a fusion restaurant. There are no crossovers in flavours but rather a smorgasbord of skewers prepared in a variety of ways that stay true to their authentic form.
Step inside and one can only assume interior designer was given a fairly simple brief. Tropical foliage and lots of it. You’ve got banana plants holding banana plants standing against a banana plant wallpaper. Throw in a chandelier or two and voila!
Dishes of mention:
Sichuan tofu skewers with the Asian slaw – Sichuan pepper marinade garnished with peanuts was excellent! Unfortunately prepared with a premarinated/ smoked tofu that was a little overpowering
Chicken satay wrap – juicy chicken pieces laced with a flavourful Balinese satay sauce
I still remember as a child my favourite food at a market being the satay skewers. The best ones had a nice charring on the outside and juicy meat that had soaked up all the marinade. I think Styx have delivered well on that front. An enjoyable experience where staff were attentive and helpful without being overbearing.
Overall a simple but unique concept that brings together a number of street foods from around the work into one place. A great place for big groups including plenty of options for vegans and vegos.
Follow your nose along Yongjia Lu to the charming O’Mills Bakery & Bistro. Best known as a trendy brunch spot, it also serves up an impressive selection of baked goods and more recently, an appealing dinner menu.
The upstairs dining area has a relaxed homely vibe. At first look the interiors can seem a little ill fitted. A lot of the deco you’d probably find in your grandmas house, think pink florals paired with teal coloured velvet-tufted Scandinavian style chairs, but for some reason it kinda works. While I hate that this phrase is so loosely thrown around these days, many have described it as an ‘instagrammable’ hot spot. Yes many of the dishes are garnished with pretty edible flowers but what you really want to know is, is the food tasty?
Dishes of mention:
- Gravalax with rye bread – lathered with a delicious beetroot sour cream base but could have done with some seasoning. A relatively small dish but perfect if you want to leave room for a baked treat. Go for the almond croissant.
- Vege burger – a stand out patty made of goat’s cheese and beetroot with a nice crispy texture.
I only have one criticism and it isn’t exclusive to this café, but needs to be mentioned. What will it take to get all the meals served at the same time? I had finished my meal by the time my partners came out and for only 2 diners that’s amateur service.
O’Mills Bakery & Bistro are certainly onto a good thing. I think they’ve nailed a good location with little competition close by, the coffee is excellent and the food not far behind. I’ll be back to try the dinner menu for sure.
Price for 2: 220 RMB
I love taking people down to Found 158 for the first time. Always the same reaction of a raised-eyebrow with a pouted lip followed by, ‘woah you’d never know this place exists!’. Its true. Strolling down Julu Lu you wouldn’t have a clue that this giant fish bowl houses a dynamic mix of quality restaurants and bars. Amongst these is Hooked, a seafront inspired restaurant and bar serving up classic British/Aussie/New Zealand (take your pick) style meals. You’re sure to find these breeds of expats gathering at this watering hole when they’re craving a taste of home.
They’ve got daily deals throughout the week on food and drinks, my favourite being the 2 for 1 fish and chips on a Monday. Battered, crumbed or grilled. Or if you’re feeling like something a little more decadent I’d go for the lobster mac and cheese. Drinks menu has a good selection of cocktails and craft beers and if you feel like getting messy on a Wednesday night there’s 2 for 1 gin n tonics.
Growing up down under I’ve had my fair share of everything from exceptional to horrendous fish and chips and everything in between. Hooked’s version is pretty darn good. I’ve tried both crumbed (nice) and battered (the best) versions (grilled fish n chips is not a thing). I was impressed with how well the fish was cooked and the mayo n mushy peas are a nice addition.
Having tried many of the other restaurants at Found 158 I think Hooked deserves its spot. Although it may be the least ‘exotic’ of the bunch it does its thing well and delivers on a crowd favourite. I can see this being a popular spot even with the weather cooling down, those hearty comfort meals will go down a treat!
Price for 2 (incl drinks): 260 (2 for 1 Mondays)
There has been a lot of buzz around this place over the last few months, some even crowning it the best new restaurant in Shanghai. Helmed by a well-reputed chef and located in the swanky Bund Financial Centre, Heritage by Madison seems to tick all the boxes to attract the masses.
The space is sophisticated, dimly lit with large inverted copper lampshades. Like many restaurants these days there is the option to sit overlooking the kitchen, which is always a treat to see the chefs work their magic. The menu consists of a range of Chinese-inspired small plates so be prepared to order a lot (sample a lot!).
Still relatively new to Shanghai I’ve realized that my expectations are quite different to those who are more familiar with the ever-changing dynamics of Shanghai’s F&B industry. So this was a great opportunity to try something new with a range of people, to observe ultimately what determines if they’ll be back!
Dishes of mention:
General Hu’s cauliflower – One of the standout dishes. Sweet and crunchy with a nice hint of chilli
Salted duck yolk lotus roots – a very polarizing dish. I myself loved it but it appeared to be one you either love or hate. The expression on my friends face can only be described as ‘an insult to her tastebuds’
Fried mantou with edamame – a rye based version of these buns. Creative and delicious!
Uni lobster – a decadent dish! Because of this its a ideal for sharing.
Panna cotta – Unfortunately the fruit to panna cotta ratio was off. i.e. gimme more PC.
On the spectrum of modern Chinese cuisine Heritage by Madison presents an innovative menu that pushes the boundaries. While some of the people I dined with weren’t so impressed with the stray from traditional flavours, I really enjoyed seeing a fresh spin on the dishes and am eager to see how the menu evolves.
Price per person: 300 RMB
As we say goodbye to the summer I’m trying to make the last dash around a few more lunch spots serving bold, fresh flavours before its too cold and a salad is no longer going to satisfy me. Nam Nam, (guess the cuisine) these guys have gone for a tropical style design, clad with a bold coat of turquoise and rattan style lampshades. At the very least the atmosphere will make me feel like I’m in a warmer climate. Or so I thought, the inside is a little dingy, which can only be attributed to its unfortunate location at the back end of the SFC mall. The menu has a selection of dishes showcasing classic Vietnamese flavours. Think, chilli, lime, basil, coriander, fruity salads, pho and all the fried goodies. Overall the flavours were there but the dishes lacked punch.
Dishes of mention:
Papaya salad – very stingy on the prawns, dressing was lacking
Black rice avocado bowl – over seasoned
Prawn crackers – despite being morsels of everything bad for you these were rather delicious.
Overall not a terrible experience, maybe an easy place to grab a bite before you catch a movie but nothing to write home about. Having only sampled a small selection of the menu I don’t think I can fairly comment on the quality of the entire menu and I know a good pho or crispy spring roll can be a game-changer. The menu at Nam Nam offers a typical spread of Vietnamese dishes however some could do with a few tweaks to give them a much needed lift.
Price for 2: 200 RMB
On a sticky Saturday afternoon after a few hours walking along Nanjing Rd (foolish, I know) my husband and I set off down the side streets in search of lunch. What started out as mild hunger and a willingness to wait for something that really caught our eye quickly turned into a desperate dash for anything to calm the rumbling tums. Hungry and dehydrated we came across Laoshengxing. In my delirious state I thought, ‘hey isn’t that the OG place with the Michelin star?’ Negative, that would be Laozhengxing. Onwards and upwards.
Quick scan of the menu and we chose a combo of dumps and noodles. Unsure if it was our hunger that drove us to over order or that the portions are just huge but we ended up with enough for a small army.
Dishes of mention:
Scallion oil noodles with garlic - One of my favourite dishes since moving to Shanghai. There was just the right amount of oil to perfectly coat the noodles.
Glutinous rice dumpling – a nice spice to the glutinous rice filling. Tasty but quite heavy.
The baozi and dumps were thrown at us in a plastic bag which I initially found a bit odd but actually rather convenient to transport food for the small army. Ultimately was the food tasty? Yes. Was it because I was starving? Maybe but I would certainly go back for those noodles.
Laoshengxing is a local food chain serving up some dirt-cheap Chinese classics. Not a bad spot if you’re wanting something cheap and cheerful.
Price for 2: 50 RMB
Out for an evening bike ride along Anting Lu we stumbled upon Cotton’s. The restaurant is set in a refurbished colonial style villa, with an outdoor dining area lined with lush bamboo trees and strings of fairy lights. It’s a charming space ideal for either a quiet dinner or casual drinks with a bigger group.
The menu is pretty basic. Perhaps one step above the complexity of a pub menu. One menu is mix of largely Italian inspired dishes and the other is straight seafood. They seem to cover a lot, so you’re bound to find something that tickles your fancy. If you feel like classic Italian? They’ve got a good selection of pizzas and pastas. Healthy? Nice selection of hearty, grainy salads. Wine n platter kind of night? Lots of options to create an antipasto spread.
Dishes of mention:
There weren’t any stand out dishes and yet I still walked out of there feeling satisfied . I guess you could say no dud dishes is a win?
One of the things that did stand out though was the service. Staff were attentive without being overbearing and the meals were timed well.
Overall the food wasn’t anything overly inspiring but hey there is always a time and place for these kind of restaurants. Like those weeks when you’ve maybe overdone the chilli oil and your stomach is begging you to chill the f out but you’ve still got to turn up to that dinner with friends? This is a good option with a nice atmosphere and great service.
Price for 2 people: 350RMB
A good bagel is hard to come by, especially ones that are filled with something that requires a little more brain power than salmon and cream cheese. Boom Boom is set up in a great spot on Anfu Lu decked with an eclectic mix of wooden and brick interiors with industrial-style lighting. Not a bad place to park up on the weekend for a relaxing lunch or Sunday session. They offer up a mix of bagels, salad bowls and smoothies, with a decent selection of craft beers and cocktails.
Dishes of mention:
Nicoise salad – dressed with a delicious vinigarette that packs a punch
Banana smoothie - clearly made with an under ripe banana, hoping that was a one off. I can still feel the starch on my tongue..
Greenline bagelwich – the bagel itself was fantastic, lightly toasted and soft in the middle however there was too much filling. Never thought these words would leave my mouth but… maybe less mozzarella?
My only other comment is that the space is a little cramped. Like it isn’t already hard enough trying to stop people from breaching your personal space, the bad flow gives people the perfect excuse to get riight up in your grill. Get those elbows out.
As far as bagels go BBB are serving up some quality goods with a creative range of fillings. Worth checking out on the weekends for a fresh summer lunch if you don’t mind the tight squeeze.
Price for 2 people: 160 RMB
I’m curious to know how this place came up with its name. The name, the exterior, it doesn’t give much away. Nonetheless this place is always busy and the modern design is enough to make you want to take a peak. Japanese was not my first guess but as you walk inside the space it starts to make sense. Its casual but intimate, just like an izakaya.
The menu is largely focused on a selection of sashimi and nigiri with many other popular Japanese side dishes.
Dishes of mention:
Today’s best selection of nigiri – a delicious medley of fresh salmon, tuna, scallops and sea urchin
California maki roll – a familiar favourite with a tasty crab filling. Rolled in fish eggs this dish looks stunning on the plate.
Vegetable tempura – despite the loss of nutritional value these were pleasantly light
We ordered the avocado salad to balance things out. This was the only disappointment. I have real qualms with salads that scream ‘I couldn’t care less, lets just throw some vegetables on a plate’. Cold cos lettuce with quartered tomatoes and some corncob shavings. No seasoning and a self-serve dressing that didn’t really match.
If you’re craving some mid-week Japanese MOST is a reliable option. Located near the corner of Huaihai and Wuxing, it provides a good selection of Japanese cuisine with an easy-going atmosphere sure to hit the spot.
Price for 2 people: 300 RMB
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.