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  • Having been tasked to go meat-free for a week by my regular dining partner, I was coerced into dining at Wujie just off of Hengshan Lu, whilst I have been known to undergo a detox from time to time, the food presented by way of an iPad lived up to both the images and all that I had heard about Wujie in offering innovative vegetarian dishes.

    This alcohol and meat-free evening started off with some warm non-descript tea.

    The following dishes were ordered:

    Golden Oyster Mushrooms & King Oyster Mushrooms with Peanut and Chilli Sauce. (the flavours were delicate and not overpowering.

    Panko Buttered Tofu with Wasabi Aioli. (the Wasabi could have had a little more kick to it)

    Gongbao Style Chinese Mountain Yam and Maitake Mushroom balls with Asparagus and Macadamia nuts.

    Lotus Root Roll stuffed with wild vegetables, house-made Tofu and Enoki mushrooms.

    Seasonal Fresh mushroom platter, which was akin to deep-fried spring rolls.

    All of the dishes came out fast and furious, and in no particular order, the dishes despite being mostly variations on a theme of mushrooms were unique in flavour and well presented, and actually the same as the images on the iPad, which makes a change at venues. In every dish, the cooking was confident and gutsy.

    To round off a green tea tiramisu, which was a little unusual, and stuck to the roof of my mouth.

    Damages for two came to 418RMB

    We were fortunate to have booked a table as the place was packed, with couples dining at the venue, and appeared to enjoy the fare on offer, would certainly return with friends, and most certainly recommend, but be wary if you don’t like Tofu or variations of Fungi.

    Generally, I eat fairly late in the evening, however, was briefed that vegetarian restaurants tend to open early, and curfew falls around 20h30, we had some difficulty in ordering the dessert at 20h40, and had  to call a supervisor, despite this, the service staff were friendly, not overbearing and efficient, but were keen to be rid of you and switching the lights off, even the main door lights were off at 20h45.

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  • The first thing you notice walking up to the restaurant is the abundant outdoor seating.   There’s also plenty of space inside with the club music blaring though I’m sure nobody is there to dance at 630pm.  The menu is just as massive as the restaurant.  Classic bar fare combined with food representing various regions of Asia.  My order:  popcorn chicken, Peking duck pizza, and the beer paddle. 

    The paddle lists the name of all seven home brewed beers so the servers don’t have to waste time explaining the contents of each glass.  The cider kicks off the experience as we move on down the paddle and finish off with a chocolaty BrewMaster Dark.  Most of the beers are as basic as the names.  The lone standout is the BrewMaster Local.  Floral and kissed with a touch of sweetness that pairs well with the subtle spiciness of the popcorn chicken.

    The popcorn chicken contains actual popcorn!  This is the first time that the much too sweet Shanghai-style popcorn actually serves a purpose.  It’s a good counterbalance to the crispy, crunchy chili peppers that come mixed in with the chicken.

    The Peking duck pizza is a letdown.  The duck tastes as if it was cooked the day before, left in the fridge, and reheated in the oven.  The cilantro, perhaps the most hated or loved of herbs, lacks any of the herbal explosion that I so adore.  The crust is crispy enough and the tomato sauce is quite zesty.  However, the bland cheese and duck make the dish a complete afterthought.

    Price: 200 RMB per person

    Summary: If you have a guest staying at the Kerry Hotel, or you're exhausted from a full day at Century Park and just have a craving for some basic beer and food that’s not offensive, then The Brew is a family-friendly spot worth hitting up.  They have a huge outdoor space, a stage set up for live music, and a friendly staff.  However, be warned! It being part of a hotel, they charge an extra 10% service charge.

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  • Having been in Shanghai for over 10 years, I have frequented all the Madison iterations since the original Dong Ping Lu location. If you’ve been here long enough for that, you probably remember when Element Fresh was affordable and you probably still rock a Hotmail or AOL e-mail account. You have been in Shanghai too long, but getting to experience another iteration of this great restaurant will make it all worth it.

    We went for brunch with a group of 6 adults and two children less than a week into its soft opening. The burger is not just Shanghai-good, it’s one of the best you will have anywhere. The dragon bean salad with poached egg is one of the few East-West creations that is better than the sum of its parts. The charred octopus was cooked perfectly with a light crunch outside and super tender with no chewiness inside. The kids went through two orders of duck spaghetti before I got a chance to try it.

    Ambience and service were also top notch. The only minor drawbacks are the location and somewhat small portions. The Bund Finance Center is just another mega mixed office and retail building, and probably close to nothing in your normal routine (but it’s by the bund!). On the other hand, it is probably a more central location for the entire city (even people in Pudong).

    Overall, I’m sure this is the frontrunner for best new restaurant in 2019 and would recommend you go soon while it’s still easy to get in.

    Kid friendliness: One of the children in our group didn’t care for their homemade strawberry soda (it was probably the first strawberry soda she ever had made with actual strawberries), but the waiter switched it out right away to something she liked. These types of gestures are so rare in Shanghai that it deserves a mention.

    200-300 rmb per person with drinks

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

    The Beef: Wow, where do I start…?

    The food. It was by far the worst “Yunnan food experience” I’ve had. Yunnan food is one of my favorite Chinese cuisines, and with the enthusiastic recommendations of a good gf (whose gourmet opinions I highly respect), expectations were set high. The décor was clean and modern, the second floor even had a nice outdoor terrace. The staff was friendly and patiently took our order. Then the food arrived…and everything went sour (almost literally).

    The goat cheese was typical, no harm no foul. But the fresh vegetable wraps were bland, skin was too thick, and the dipping sauce lacked some much-needed personality. The border steamed beef in bamboo tube was salty AF… an as”salt” (haha) on my taste buds! The yellow curry beef was half decent, sauce was a bit too thick and floury for my taste, although that one is on us – why we ordered yellow curry at a Yunnan place is beyond me.

    I really wanted to “make me love this place” (as my gf had promised she would do). I can never get enough of my fill of Yunnan food, and I am a fan of the “fancier” Chinese concept that serves a decent wine list and a cocktail menu (a la Sichuan Citizen, Lost Heaven). Especially fun to take out-of-town guests. But I don’t think I’ll be returning here anytime soon (sorry, MW!)

    The Gang: Mixed crowd, more sophisticated business than casual.

    The Damage: Approx. 500RMB for three, including 1 cocktail. Price per dish avg around 78-88RMB. 

    The Down n’ Dirty: Unmemorable.

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  • Cozy, small and charming. Egg on Xianyang road, is one of those brunch gems in Shanghai you can’t miss. A more than average brunch menu with a variety of homemade food and beverage choices.

    The menu is small but precise. What I mean with this is that every dish in the menu is perfectly achieved and the ingredients carefully combinated. Toasts, sweets and traditional Chinese cuisine dishes like shaobing or panckackes that team up with bean jam, in a modern and western twist.
    They serve homemade sodas and a coffee variety you won’t easily find around, like peppermint latte for example.

    Had brunch with my partner in crime. First round, we shared a a bacon sandwich, which was unbelievable tasty: crispy bacon, house cured pork belly, spiced mayo and a sort of cucumber sauce that was delicious in an English muffin. It was so good that I order one more for the second round. Then of course the avocado toast that, in my opinion, is the best one in town, with peas, cucumber and Parmesan in a big big crunchy toast. We finished the meal with the pancakes that were a different version of what we are used to see but very interesting. A big applause to the passion fruit and ginger soda, so good and refreshing for this season! All this for 290 rmb.
    Excellent service, good playlist, tranquil vibe, enough dish selection, truly tasty food and pocket friendly prices. Give it a try!

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  • Hungry and tired, we stumbled upon this Japanese restaurant after failing to grab seats at another nearby popular restaurant. The inside of the place is decorated with streams of manga strips covering the walls, and a myriad of other Japanese decors.

    Our group of 4 found a great deal on the Dianping App that included a wide variety of items- sashimi platter, salmon sushi, tuna sushi, California roll, salmon cheese roll, eel egg roll, mango salad, potato stewed beef, sardine, and iron plate beef. In addition, we ordered 2 plates of pan-fried dumplings, and 3 helpings of avocado cheese salmon rolls, along with the side dish of green bean sprouts. That might sound like a lotta food for 4 people but Japanese food isn’t the best at filling a person up so we had to dig in.

    Starting with the sushi here, I’ll say that they aren’t bad but they are also not great either. What I don’t understand is why almost every sushi roll on the menu here has to have some sort of cheese inside or a drop of cream sauces on top. Perhaps to adapt to the Western appetite? The sashimi platter made for a great display as the smoke of the dry ice spewed about but I can’t really comment because I don’t really like to eat completely raw seafood. The beef here platters are not disagreeable but are served in really small portions. In the end, I’ll have to say that I liked pan fried dumplings the best out of all the dishes, because it is fried to just the right amount, with a nice vinegar sauce on the side to dip with.

    On to service- for relatively small place that is not too crowded, getting the waitress’s attention proved to be more of a struggle than necessary. This was quite frustrating throughout the meal. Overall, price is around 120 rmb/ person, with the platter deal being 168rmb, a discount from its original price of 399 rmb.

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  • Azul Tapas and Lounge is one of my favorite places to go for a reliable international meal in Shanghai. The location is beautiful, and Eduardo Vargas has never disappointed me with his menu here. Azul is one of those places where you can go for any occasion, and it feels welcoming and comfortable in a way that many restaurants in Shanghai do not. I’ve had completely different and wonderful nights here for group birthday parties, restaurant week special menus, or just a pisco sour on the terrace. I’ve also been here many times for dinner, and the scallops are not to be missed.

    Last week was my first brunch at Azul, and I was not disappointed. For RMB198, you get a three-course brunch, a cocktail, and a coffee. They also have fantastic happy hour deals throughout the week and an adorable terrace to enjoy them on. Azul offers more options for the international palate drawing inspiration from South America, Spain and Mediterranean flavors and dishes. I’d recommend the flan, but I really don’t think there’s a wrong way to go here.

    When the weather starts to get a bit warmer, the terrace will start to fill up quickly. I’m definitely looking forward to a many more brunches, lunches, and evenings at Azul.

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  • Are you looking for a sports bar and a wide variety of craft and imported bottled beer? This is the place. Are you willing to enjoy some live music? This is also the place.

    The indoor part is huge with a nice terrace facing Fumin Lu. Nice bar, plenty of TVs for the sporty people and many beer options for the general public. Pale ale, IPA, wheat, light, dry, dark and bold, cider and fruit flavored, in fact, a mapamundi of beers.

    First of all, the beer HAS to be cold — very cold. Check. The menu is a fast food and sport bar kinda food: burgers, fried chicken, pizza, tacos , ribs, etc. That is okay. It is the food you seek in this sort of going out plan. We had the Memphis ribs and a platter to share that comes with a mix of sausages, fried chicken, French fries, nachos and spring rolls. The ribs were adequate but nothing outstanding and the platter was a little bit tasteless.

    The service is not that good and the place is definitely noisy. I can’t blame the second point since sports bars are noisy by definition. But the service can be definitely improved.

    The beer selection has no discussion.

    The food is pretty average: “bar food”. Come for the beers not for the food. The prices are appropriate. It was 200 per person for our meal plus 3 beers.
    I didn’t like the mix of boxing on TV while listening to a Drake acoustic version, but other than that, it is okay for a casual night out with friends.

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  • Truth be told, the Spice has become my go-to place for when I crave some Indian comfort food. Strangely enough however, they’re listed as a Thai restaurant and the majority of their food options are Thai, with Indian food being on a separate menu, namely, one sheet of paper. Although I have no problems with the quality of their Thai food, their Indian food is what draws me back time and time again.

    My old favorites are the butter chicken and the garlic naan, along with their freshly made rich mango lassis. The chicken in the butter chicken dish is great, but it’s the “butter” sauce that really gets me. A better duo than peanut butter and jelly, the creamy aromatic butter chicken sauce is the perfect match for a side of crispy naan. Even the Thai fried noodles went great with the sauce. My only complaint is that the serving size of the naan platters are too small, with only 3 pieces to munch on. The papaya salad was a nice side dish to offset the heavy flavor of the butter chicken and tom yum soup we ordered.  As always, I walked away from this place with a bloated but satisfied stomach.  

    At The Spice, you can always expect service with a smile, and sometimes the lovely waiters don’t even hesitate to strike up a chat with you, rare in China if you ask me. Price about 100rmb/person.

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  • Alright, let's be honest here. I'm not from Canada. I have no right whatsoever to critique another country's Rueben. I never wanted to go into this place, but the buzz started when my parents came to visit. My Jewish mother from New York had to know if a pastrami sandwich in Shanghai was going to be any good. I pointed out, that if it was bad, it's 100% Canada's fault, not Shanghai’s in this situation. We went for Chinese food upstairs.

    My mother bonds with my friend from New York instantly. But I know that this friend in particular also likes to eat bagels in Shanghai and cannot truly be trusted. They agree to go to Tock’s without me. I plan to keep them away from each other for the rest of the trip. We have too much Chinese food to eat, and stomach space can not be wasted on this nonsense. My friend sends my mother a photo of Tock’s delivery on Wechat as we board a plane to Western China for sightseeing. When did they exchange Wechat information? I don’t know. But my mother is amazed that corned beef sandwiches can be delivered by a Canadian restaurant in China.

    Did we go to Tock’s when we got back to Shanghai? Yup.

    Was the sandwich any good? No. It was really dry and not from New York. But the service was really friendly, and the decor looked alright. It’s also worth noting that the poutine does not contain cheese curds. I don’t even know who to blame about that, but I’d assume that even the Canadians would be upset. I did enjoy the hype we created for ourselves, though. 

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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.

  • Argentinean

    Delfina joined the Argentinean Foreign Service in 2012, and was posted to the General Consulate in 2016. Her hobbies are taking photos, traveling and cooking all sort of dishes. She aims someday to open a small restaurant based in organic, regional and self farmed ingredients.
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  • American

    Emily Gant has lived around the world in Ecuador, Chile, Indonesia and Tonga. She enjoys rooftop cocktails and showing up to events on time. Emily also does amateur stand-up comedy in Shanghai where she's funny 30% of the time.
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  • Heatwolves has spent the last ten years exploring Shanghai as a writer, editor and DJ and is now a consultant and strategist for F&B, music, and art projects. You can find him on Instagram at @lovebanguniverse and leaping forward at InkSight Agency.
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