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  • The corner of Wulumuqi and Wuyuan Lu is a weekend hotspot for expats. On one side of the road you’ve got people squeezing in and out of the The Avocado Lady for their lao wai cravings (bless her) and on the other you’ll find Bowl Bowl Bowl. The upstairs dining area has a chill minimalistic vibe where you can either perch up at the windowsill and people-watch/pooch-watch, or enjoy some peace and quiet.

    Summed up, BBB specialize in poke bowls, salad bowls and yoghurt bowls. I can only comment on the poke as they keep me coming back rain or shine, fresh or dusty – they always hit the spot.

    The selection of bowls you can order are named according to different Scandinavian countries. But I thought poke was from Hawaii? Although traditionally a Hawaiian dish, apparently poke bowls have also become very popular in Scandinavia because of the seafood element. The bowls at BBB resemble a classic poke make-up similar to deconstructed sushi where you can choose from different seafood options as your protein. They come lined with a slab of sushi rice, packed with a generous serving of edamame, cashews, avocado, seaweed, black sesame and topped off with a drizzle of the perfect spicy mayo. If you’re keen up the experience one more notch you can go to town on the self-serve soy sauce and wasabi.

    Dishes of mention:

    Northern Lights poke bowl – salmon is super fresh and complimented well by the spicy mayo

    No real criticism for BBB but perhaps they could offer the bowls in different sizes for those that want more of that poke goodness. Overall a reliable spot for a healthy, delicious meal.

    Price per person: <100 RMB

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  • The Deli Boys serves up a range of sandwiches, salads, and other deli fare in Changning. It’s not light eating, and it might not remind you of your favorite deli at home – local delis seem to be something people feel pretty strongly about – but they do what they do pretty well.

    The main draw of the place when they opened was their Montreal Smoked Meat, which is still a solid bet – brined, slow-cooked, fatty and tender, absolutely packed into a soft chala roll with a schmear of mustard. Lovely stuff. Heavy. Great alternative to a burger if you’re feeling like scratching a guilty pleasure itch but want something a little more unique. They've expanded their offerings recently to all day breakfasts, desserts, and a bunch of other stuff. 

    The fries are on point, as are the huge pickles that come on the side. Good side salads too if you feel like skipping the extra carbs; rather than just throwing together some lettuce and a couple tomatoes, they half their Chop Chop Salad (also available full size as a main) and give you cauliflower, nuts, raisins, and crunchy bits of fried wonton wrappers to tuck into. Actually makes it worthwhile skipping the fries. 

    Their other sandwiches and menu items are worth a look too, like the killer chicken parmesan that they do. The chicken can be a little dry but it's loaded with cheese, covered with salami, and it's definitely got the sauce. Steal at RMB 63 with a side, too. Prices aren't really bad in general; you’re looking at between RMB 60 to RMB 80 to fill yourself up here, but you will be full.

    In terms of atmosphere, the place light on it. It’s hidden down a side-street that runs between Dingxi Lu and Panyu Lu, tucked into the ground floor of some residential building. You often have to squeeze through a barely open locked gate. It’s an in-an-out, get-your-fix-and-go spot rather than one that you’ll want to linger in. 

    For a certain type of person, this kind of place in the neighrbhood is a godsend. To others, it will just be a decent sandwich and salad place churning out Western food that’s a little bit different. Either way, it’s worth checking out.

    Price: RMB 60 – RMB 150 per person

    Summary: Somewhat hidden sandwich spot in Changning serving up a menu of smoked meat sandwiches and other deli-style fare like salmon bagels, chicken parm sandwiches and the like. Definitely does the job and is a good way to get a comfort food fix while still switching it up. 

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  • I was less than pleased to be going to a Japanese pancake spot for breakfast on a precious Sunday during prime brunch hours, but a lot of people were singing praises of this Japanese souffle pancake chain that made its way to Shanghai. I, however, didn’t understand why we had to ruin such a perfectly good bread product with extra egg. When we saw the servers bringing out the saccharine-looking plates to other tables, I was still skeptical but also pretty intrigued. It was a mountain of sugar. Whatever was gained in eggy nutritional value was surely lost in a mountain of diabetes and cream.

    There was so much fluff. In a good way. In a very good way! The pancakes were insanely sweet, and I can see why a lot of the tables were splitting them. I’m glad I ordered this salmon and avocado tartare as an appetizer, but I also don’t understand how it really fit into the menu. There were several other things to try, but I’d recommend just sticking with whichever sweet pancake mountain suits your fancy. All dishes were reasonably priced in the RMB 70-150 range, and I’m now all about the hype. Let's just not call it breakfast and instead call it dessert. 

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  • Crossing a few things off my Shanghai tourism to-do list, Long Bar was priority number one. The Long Bar at the Waldorf Astoria is beautifully restored, and I could imagine right away what it was like 100+ years ago. The Jazz was on point, and the musician came over to chat about how he’s been performing for almost two decades. He’s seen some big changes! If you view the Long Bar for what it is—a hotel bar—and don’t expect too much, I think it’s worth grabbing a cocktail and listening to some jazz.

    The cocktails are smooth and worth the bund prices. The clientele is mostly people who are staying at the hotel and the occasional group celebrating a special event. We loved that we could all hear each other for the entire evening.

    Bar snacks included caviar aged for 10+ years and oysters from Ireland and France. Oysters will forever be the dumbest food known to rich people in my opinion. For RMB 78, you can enjoy one sea gulp of salt and flavor. Call me uncultured; it’s fine. I did enjoy the caviar, however. It arguably has flavor that isn’t just… arbitrary ocean? (Don’t take my word on this paragraph.)

    The average price for cocktails ranged from RMB 100-200. It was a fun evening, and I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a drink in a bar that successfully re-creates the era with excellent music.

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  • The only thing different about the menu at the Disney Town Cheesecake Factory compared to any Cheesecake Factory chain is the fact that the caloric content isn’t printed on the menu. If anything, this makes Shanghai’s Cheesecake Factory taste infinitely better because while I can taste the abhorrent coronary-bypass-inducing food that’s entering my body, I can’t quantify in numbers that reflect anything other than the price. It’s also a journey to get down there on line 11, but it was so worth it.

    We arrived inside, and it was an exact replica of every Cheesecake Factory ever. I felt more American there than I ever have inside the US Consulate building. The portions were bigger than my face and the clientele was at least 50% the same kind of American you’d expect to travel halfway around the world for Mickey Mouse and then dine at the Cheesecake Factory. I’m not sure patriotism is what I’m going for here, but a delightful waitress brought me a milkshake before I had to overexert my brain.

    I have never felt more disgusted with myself, but I think that was kind of the point given how we ordered. An assortment of very brown appetizers made for a sleepy metro ride home. Luckily, we got a seat. We also had to take out leftovers and the actual cheesecake to go because obviously I’m just not the proud American I used to be.

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  • Urban Thai on Changle Road claims to be the only place in Shanghai where people can find authentic Thai food in Shanghai. I’ve been walking by it for two years thinking to myself, “I should go in there.” I finally tried it for the first time a few weeks ago, and I really wish I had gotten myself in there sooner! This tiny little place packs a solid menu of all your favorite Thai dishes from Poh Pia Sod (fresh spring rolls) to Tom Kha (coconut soup). They turn up the fish sauce on the classic Pad Thai and don’t mess around with the spice in the Gaeng Keow Wan (green curry). Mouth. On. Fire.

    Admittedly, I don’t know a whole lot about Thai food outside of my extensive experiences walking by street stalls in Thailand and greedily pointing at just about everything, but Urban Thai still provided foreigner-friendly photos on the menu, and they were happy to answer all questions about what we should order. The atmosphere was calm, and the place was incredibly cozy. I didn’t feel rushed at all, and it was a nice break from the Fumin/Changle bustle just outside.

    This is also a great choice if you’re trying to please a combination of vegetarians and carnivores any night of the week. Also, don’t forget to order a Thai Iced Tea. It comes in a mason jar, and it’s the perfect level of sweet to balance out all the spicy flavors in the food.

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  • Singapore has established a reputation for its selection of seafood dishes, namely the “chilli crab” and the “black pepper crab”. Fortunately for us the restaurant chain Jumbo, who have countlessly been awarded best chilli crab in Singapore, have brought these delicacies to Shanghai. Situated on the 5th floor of the IAPM, this is a drool-worthy feast that resembles that which you would be served at the original restaurant, using only the best quality crabs from all over the world.

    Disclaimer: This is 100% a feast of a meal so a light lunch or breakfast is recommended. Bib and crab crackers are provided - prepare to get messy.

    Dishes of mention:

    Chilli crab – although a Singaporean dish it is prepared with a combination of more Malaysian flavours; chilli, lemongrass, candlenuts, turmeric, married with a sweet tomato based sauce. (Despite the name not actually that spicy)

    Fried Mantou – in China these baozi are usually served steamed but in this variation they’re fried. A crispy exterior with soft pillowy centres, to be used as a vehicle for your crabmeat sauce. Before you know it your hand is on autopilot reaching for another..

    Cereal Prawns – another of their famous dishes. A dry dish of prawns coated in a sweet cereal crumb fried with fresh curry leaves. Delicious.

    Deep fried Cod with Chef’s special spicy sauce – another stand-out sweet and spicy dish. Fish was cooked perfectly.

    Kang kong garlic & Oyster broccoli – great vegetable options to cut through the richer seafood dishes
    I can confidently say Jumbo live up to their reputation for delivering an excellent spread of seafood. A great dining experience to share with a big group, one that’s sure to leave you feeling rather full but highly satisfied.

    Price for 2 people: 700RMB

     

     

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  • Here’s the low-down on the latest action-

    The Beef: Owned by the same group as Professor Lee and Jeju Izakaya, Belloco is the OG spot that this “Korean Fusion” empire was all built upon. My first visit was perhaps as far as 7 years ago, and left an indelibly positive impression. It had fallen off my radar for a few years in between until a recent visit. Expectations can be a dangerous thing – I went in with high idealized hopes but they were slightly dashed, perhaps off-put by the most minute of details.

    To start, we ordered a bottle of white wine before perusing the food menu. After placing our food order, we waited for our wine...then waited some more…until the food started arriving. Where was our wine?! We were told that it was taking longer bc they “were polishing the glasses”. Ok but there are glasses on the bar, where is the bottle? It is extremely frustrating when you can “almost” see your order and meanwhile the other half of it is just “chillin” there (pun intended). Finally the bottle did appear and was served to us…a tad cooler than lukewarm. As suspected, 25 minutes of “polishing the glasses” was most likely the wet paper towel in freezer trick. Nevertheless, an A for effort.

    Another nitpick, and this is probably a positive for some. I see what they’re trying to do with this, but each place setting got its own bottle of water in place of the requisite “free” water. It’s indeed a thoughtful hygienic touch but feels rather wasteful/unfriendly to the environment. Didn’t actually ask, but…are refills free? I’d like a case of Belloco water to take home with me.

    Lastly, the food. We ordered the Denjang Porkneck Pan Steak, fried chicken with sweet & spicy sauce, and ricotta cheese salad with sweet balsamic. The salad was so-so, on the puny side and stingy on the ricotta and balsamic. The porkneck was a sizzling platter of grilled meat, a head of baked garlic, raw spinach, and kimchi – the accompaniments were a bit unconventional (thus fusion) but the other sides overpowered the porkneck so I preferred the dish deconstructed. Fried chicken was a winner, the perfect-sized nibbles with just the right amount of crunch and flavor. Food feels slightly more sophisticated and beautifully presented vs what you would get at a typical Korean restaurant, would def return for slightly more upscale Korean fusion although it honestly doesn't feel that "creative".

    The Gang: Mostly Chinese diners in smaller groups and dates.

    The Motive: No fuss Korean dinner with a few friends, could also be good for bigger groups. When you’re in the mood for Korean/BBQ dishes but don’t want to get hands-on the grill or leave the restaurant smelling like smoked meat.

    The Damage: ~450RMB for 2, including a bottle of wine (reasonably well priced bottles starting at 128RMB).

    The Down n’ Dirty: Decently clean, can’t complain or further elaborate.

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  • Here’s the low-down on the latest action-

    The Beef: This restaurant has been around for a few years but I’ve only been here a handful of times. Yet every time I do visit, I wonder why I don’t eat here more often.

    First, the restaurant only has a few small tables which ensures service is friendly and attentive (actually, not always a given). The space is well-decorated and clean – and never seems to get too rowdy or crowded.

    More importantly, the food is simple and well-prepared with quality ingredients, and feels a bit like home-style Thai cooking (although I have yet to find a really “authentic” Thai restaurant in Shanghai). Staples like the papaya salad and stir fry morning glory were on point. The green curry was fantastic, with the perfect spicy kick. The pad thai was a bit too flavorful (overpowered with too much sweet & spicy sauce) in my opinion, as was the salmon “salad”. The name was a bit misleading, as the dish was actually composed of cooked salmon bits (nice and hot) mixed with parsley, slightly swimming in sweet & spicy sauce. Still good dishes, and we left nothing on the table, scraping those plates clean.

    The Gang: Small groups of 2 or 4. There’s not space for big groups as the space is tiny (ahem, cozy). For bigger groups, go to their Dagu Lu location.

    The Motive: Intimate dinner w a gf, maybe a date if you don’t mind your date convo being overheard by the other diners.

    The Damage: 300RMB for 2 - lots of food, no drinks which significantly lowered the total. Still, great value and extremely well-priced for quality Thai food.

    The Down n’ Dirty: High points for cleanliness, but the toilet flush wasn’t fully functional then (perhaps some downtime in between flushes is required).

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  • As soon as it hits your tongue.  That’s when you know you’re in good hands.  The gnocchi melts in your mouth, the bright and herbal pesto lingers, and the subtle funkiness of the blue cheese jabs at your taste buds.

    It’s unconventional that the first thing mentioned in a review for a cocktail bar is a pasta.  However, Arch is not your typical cocktail bar.  You come here for the drinks, but you stay for the pastas.  And what a wonderful selection of pastas to choose from.  The aforementioned gnocchi with pesto and blue cheese, orecchiette with a meaty and zesty lamb ragu,  spinach tagliatelle with bite-sized meatballs and peppery arugula.  It’s hard to decide which one is the clear cut favourite.   Not to mention a perfectly charred octopus starter, served on a bed of creamy mashed potatoes, that prepares your mouth for the onslaught of flavours that’s about to be experienced.  The pastas at Arch are, unequivocally, the best pastas I’ve ever eaten in Shanghai. 

    The cocktails are nothing to be sneezed at, either.  The drink list is imaginative, beginning with a selection of aperitivos that opens up your palate.  One recommendation is the refreshing Campari & BBQ Orange served with a burnt orange wedge.   The presentation of the Saffron & Ginseng, refreshing though potent, is highlighted by a glass dusted with pumpkin powder.  Tell the bartender what kind of drink profile you prefer and have them come up with something on the spot.  I wanted something a bit strong so the bartender whipped up a coconut Old Fashioned.  Who knew that could be a good combination, but sure enough, just about everything works at Arch.

    Arch is a well executed cocktail bar where the food menu sneaks up on you and takes you on a journey you never could have expected.  Hats off to the team here because they know what they’re doing and it shows in each sip of imaginative cocktails and each indulgent bite of perfectly cooked pastas. 

     

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SMARTREVIEWS

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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