Long and behold, liquid laundry is usually one of the first brewery restaurants you hear of when you first come to Shanghai, and I can’t believe I’ve put it off for so long before I made a visit. First off, the place is much larger than I expected, covering most of the second floor at Jiahuafang. Even so, it is impressively fully seated on a Saturday night, but don’t come here then if you’re expecting to catch up with an old friend because the music gets so loud that it is a struggle to talk over it. It was also really difficult to catch the waiter’s attention within such a large crowded space, and service at best was so-so.
Moving on to the better parts, I am a sucker for ingenious menu designs and I loved the one at Liquid Laundry, which is literally a menu attached to a wooden laundry board- brings back nostalgia for a time when those were still used. The food was also amazing! Everything was not only fresh, but also flavorful to the max. I wanted to order their renowned beef egg panini but was told it was only available for brunch time on weekends. We started out with their homemade fries, which came in a huge plater along with three sauces. Crisp and warm, the fries were splendid but we had to watch ourselves before we got to full from that. Then came the seared yellowtail and big bone (with marrow) with a side of toast. I never thought that bone marrow and toast would ever be good companions but here at Liquid Laundry, they’ve made it work. We couldn’t skip desert as the waffles on the menu looked absolutely amazing, as did the ice cream on top. We ordered the Belgium waffles with blue berry ice cream and it was taste bud heaven as the waffle and cream melts into a blended delight in your mouth.
Their beer is also freshly brewed. Arrive before 8pm for happy hour prices. Upon scanning a QR and registering for their membership, you also get a coupon for a free beer platter; the catch is you can only use it on your next visit, but all the more reason to come back. Price without drinks comes out to be 200 rmb/person.
I have always been partial to dishes from South East Asia having lived in the region for a number of years, and has been hard to find consistency in dishes from the region in Shanghai, however, am fortunate to have Ginger on my doorstep that offers some classic dishes from across the Straits that encompasses both Singapore and Borneo.
Went along for dinner with a German visitor to Shanghai and took the liberty to arrive without a reservation on a wet Sunday evening, and they were able to squeeze the two of us in, just, the place was packed at 19h00.
Having dined at Ginger over the past, took the liberty to order with the following dishes:
Chunky Tuna Tartare, Crushed Mint Peas, Anchovy Tanari soy labane.
Calamari bits, with Crispy Thai Basil accompanied by a sweet dipping sauce.
Spicy Australian Beef Curry, Potato, Cashew Nut, Coconut, Chutney and Pickles (unsure why one would state that the beef is Australian when making a curry).
Moroccan Chicken Tagine, Coriander preserved Lemon & Cumin served with Couscous.
All the dishes came out in the correct service order, i.e. starters first, followed by the mains, each of the dishes was flavoursome, right amount of spice, seasoning and one could taste the individual elements of the dishes, only gripe was that for the Chicken dish, a whole leg was served, and difficult to cut through the sinew, with the rather blunt table knife.
My only complaint would be the selection of wines by the glass. It was either a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc or an Argentinean Chardonnay, and the measures for the price somewhat on the short side, and the young lad pouring the wine was measuring the size with a stick, which wasn’t a yardstick by any stretch of the imagination.
Ginger as a venue has a certain charm about it, along with genuine ambience with warm and friendly service personnel, not always on the ball but nevertheless friendly.
Damages came to 798RMB for two, would I go back most certainly, and can highly recommend.
Here’s the low-down on the latest action-
The Beef: Burgers, chicken wings, flatbreads, and more. We’ll get back to the food.
Having heard of the reverse beer pouring machines, I imagined this place would be too gimmicky. Not to mention they also have two full-on 桌游 machines that turn your tabletop into an interactive video game with your beer drinking mates.
I wasn’t fully wrong. Our first attempt at the reverse pour machine was actually a disaster. The machine that was supposed to offer the “perfect pour and minimal head” wasn’t working properly and instead reverse engineered a glass of beer foam. So we had to pick another beer/machine which then did indeed deliver as promised. How it works: Self-service. They have a selection of 4 beers (2 ambers, 1 pilsner, 1 dark) on reverse tap, pick beer, scan QR code to pay, set glass onto dispenser, and watch your beer glass fill from the bottom up - in only 5 seconds.
They also have a rotation of at least 6 other beers on tap behind the bar. The prevalent Contender (still a favorite but likely bc it’s the most familiar), TKO IPA (nice and strong), Helles Lager (too light and watery), and even a Breast Wishes Milk Stout with nitro gas (dark, smooth, chocolatey – sexy!).
Back to the food. This is a big statement to make. But this place has the best fries I have had in recent memory. They were the perfect amount of thickness, crisp, and saltiness, dipped in ketchup and…what? Meiyo mayo?! My date and I agreed that we would bring our own tube of mayo next time.
The rest of the food was also top notch – perfect for pairing with beers, naturally. Helles Fury Sichuan Flatbread was like eating those addictive bag of Wangfeihong spicy peanuts. The burger was juicy, and I would argue better than some of the actual burger joints. Korean style chicken wings were sweet, spicy, and oh-so-tender.
The Gang: Unfortunately it was extremely quiet on a weekday at lunch (we were the only patrons there). However, because of its location on Dingxi Lu, a late night food street for locals, I imagine less laowai, more Chinese millennials.
The Motive: Fantastic neighborhood bar and super friendly service. I’ll definitely be back, and especially in summer weather for beers and food in their lovely backyard.
The Damage: Two rounds of beer, tasting flight, and way too much food later, the total tally came down to around 300RMB for two. Reverse tap 35RMB for 400ml, beer taps 40RMB for 500ml. Flatbreads 45RMB, barley bowls 38RMB, chicken wings 28RMB.
The Down n’ Dirty: Red light bulbs made it really hard to see, but toilets seemed pretty clean.
Summer is right around the corner, and nothing beats the Shanghai heat like sipping on some cold beers on a sweet rooftop deck. Sitting within blocks of some of the best bars with outdoor spaces in Shanghai, Dream Brewers enters the mix with one of the best rooftops in the city.
We went on a sunny Saturday around 1 pm for a late lunch and there was a private event on the 3rdfloor, so we were directed to go straight to the 4thfloor rooftop deck. There was a bartender and a waiter, a cool fire pit, a soundtrack mainly of 70's and 80's hits, random dog statues, and lots of empty seats. Actually, they were all empty seats as we were the only customers there.
Beers were good, 40 rmb for 300 mL. Not cheap, but they were very cold which is not always the case in Shanghai and they tasted like craft beers. They had a deal for 20 RMB beers at their pop-up truck at the entrance of the complex which is a great deal and also a good place to people watch.
The Dreamer hot dog tasted more like a bratwurst on a huge bun. Hopefully when Costco opens later this year, Shanghai will finally get a legit American-style hot dog. Until then, this isn’t bad. There was nothing mini about the Mini Burger. This is where the chef got really creative. It had a layer of beef tongue, and some sort of guacamole sauce along with standard burger toppings. I applaud the creative courage and it actually wasn’t too bad, but not good enough to order again. On the other hand, the fish and chips were good enough to order again.
Overall, Dream Brewers is good enough food, better beer, and an awesome deck.
Kid friendliness: There is an elevator straight to both floors but the only bathroom is on the 3rd floor. The waiter was super friendly and the dog statues were fun.
300-400 for 3 people with drinks for lunch
Had some overseas friends in town, who wanted to see the bright lights of Shanghai along the Bund, and thought of a rooftop experience, tried to get into POP, but that was closed on a Friday evening for some event or other, so next room with a view, was M on the Bund, no tables, so opted for the bar and M Glam.
Was initially seated at one of the arty farty sofas and side table’s affairs, what’s the point of these, bloody interior designers certainly are not practical, or they just tick the box and move on to the next project without any thought for the punter.
Ordered a bottle of M’s House Cabernet Sauvignon from Angove’s Winery and local water for my mate, aka a Tsingtao beer.
Ordered the following dishes
Glams Super Food Salad – Crispy Kale, Quinoa, Roasted Pumpkin, Apple, Cashew curd, roasted tea leaves, this dish was slightly bland.
Cottage Pie - Puy Lentils, Wild Rice, Tomato, Onions with Olive Oil whipped potatoes, this was pleasant enough and rather tasty, could choice if one was a vegetarian
Fancy Cod Fish Fingers, Squid Ink, Tartare sauce – Captain Birds Eye would have been turning in his grave to see these, a rather soggy bland attempt at Fish Fingers.
Cold Smoking Salad Tartare with Baltic salmon eggs aka quail’s egg, a little on the light side.
Thai Beef Tartare – written with Pomelo and Lemongrass, but served with chunks of orange instead, why to write something on the menu and serve something completely different, it’s not a sketch from Monty Python.
Ham & Camembert Croquettes – it was a Croquette nothing special
Piccolo Pizza, Spicy Chorizo, olives, Mozzarella, a decent attempt at a pizza
M’s Glamorous Pavlova, as always this was a winner.
Overall not a bad selection of Tapas style snacks to share, well presented some tasting better than others, Service is engaging and keen without being overbearing or hovering drone like behind you.
Bill came to just over 1,200RMB for 3 pax.
Would recommend for the view and overall ambience for an inexpensive night along the Bund, with consistency being the name of the game.
It's getting three stars only because I'd be willing to brave the red undertones for dinner. Red undertones are never okay at brunch.
I can imagine that this place is exactly what you’d want when trying to impress a colleague or someone from out of town. It’s red. So very red. Is the red coming form a tinted window? Or is it coming from a light behind what looks like a window? I had a bit of a headache. But let’s make this the second ostentatious red establishment in Shanghai that I probably won’t return to again. I get that it’s in Xintiandi, and I get that it’s trendy… but I don’t like paying a lot of money for things that don’t leave me feeling full at the very least. The meal left me hungry and confused. The portions were tiny, and there are better places to go for flavor.
The biggest hits were the Baked Black Pepper Wagyu Beef Puff for RMB 38 and the Steamed Pork Dumplings for RMB 36. If you want to be fancy for the sake of being fancy, you could also opt to order a Fois Gras and Lobster Dumpling, but we opted to roll our eyes instead. The whole thing was pretty average dim sum. Don’t get me wrong… I love pretty average dim sum, but I’d much rather enjoy it in a different hue with a normal price tag. There wasn’t anything special about it in my opinion.
Price for two people living their best brunch life: RMB 570
Known as one of Shanghai’s top breweries this popular spot also offers an ambitious fusion dinner menu. Located in the Julu complex, Dream Brewers occupies 2 floors, formal dining (Level 3) and a rooftop bar (Level 4).
We were pretty hungry so decided to go straight to the restaurant. Dimly lit with simple concrete interiors topped with 90s slow jams, think Atomic Kitten, Mariah etc. The mood was set for a cute date night.
Overall the menu is pretty heavy on red meat and seafood dishes, so not a great spread if you’re vegetarian. We grazed on a bread and cheese platter to start. Not bad, but not memorable. Next up a scallop ceviche, beautifully presented (see photo) and served with a seaweed type cracker – yum! Which is where they should have left it. Unfortunately the ceviche was heavily garnished with a rose flavoured jelly - let’s just say Ottolenghi would not be impressed. Final dish was a cuttlefish tagliatelle. Now here I was expecting a plate of tagliatelle pasta with cuttlefish IN it, but in fact the cuttlefish itself had been ‘tagliatelled’ (I don’t know – is that a thing?). Drenched in a basic buttery sauce with a few herbs, this was pretty uninspiring given the price. Come 9pm the tables are decked with large neon bulbs and the tempo starts to pick up. The rooftop bar has a great vibe. We didn’t spend much time here, but I liked the modern design of the booths looking out across the Shanghai skyline, a nice place for Friday drinks over summer.
At the end of this experience I think I was just left a little confused. The quasi-italian inspired restaurant is yet to fall in sync with its humming rooftop bar and extensive craft beer list. A few tweaks to the menu and the place will certainly have potential.
Price: 500-600 RMB for 2 people
“It’s a classic osteria”, my Italian friend said. The waiter had just talked us through our options for the evening. There’s no menu at Casa Mia; a limited selection is verbally offered. This would be logical if the dishes changed regularly, but my friend has ordered the same porcini tagliatelle and tiramisu three weeks in a row. (It says a lot that he’s visited three weeks in a row, though.)
It’s an osteria in set-up, too. Everything feels unofficial, from the hidden, unmarked entrance to the mismatched furniture. It’s like the owners decided to start flogging homemade pasta out of the Donghu Hotel’s storage shed.
The food quality is as haphazard as everything else. The smokey and tender octopus appetiser (98rmb) was one of the only octopi I’ve ever really enjoyed eating, and the burrata (with superfluous prosciutto; 178rmb), was actually burrata instead of just sliced mozzarella.
Next: the pasta (from 88 to 98rmb). The flavours are good, and I’d recommend the lasagne, but it all felt frustratingly limp. Our table also ordered three veals (alla Milanese; 260rmb), but we were told that we could only have one. They gave us several different reasons for this, none of which seemed logical. One friend switched to fish instead (140rmb for a grilled fillet) and the other gave up hope of a main.
Dessert was inoffensive: my panna cotta was topped with some lovely poached cherries, but was disappointingly un-vanilla-y. There were some other options too: a chocolate affogato, for example, and a ubiquitous tiramisu (all priced around 48rmb). For four people, with a bottle of wine, we paid 1752rmb.
There’s something charming about Casa Mia. It’s worth a visit or two, and it’d make a lovely local if you live in the area. You won’t have an orderly evening, but there’s character in the chaos.
Miss Fu in Chengdu is a Sichuan joint specializing in chuan chuan - small, usually spicy skewers delivered your table in a bowl of potent chili oil. Great drinking food, especially if you’re into heat.
The place always seems to have a big queue. Like, at least an hour or two. What you need to do is hit up Dianping and get a number in advance a couple hours before you want to eat. Then, you can get a drink at Stone or The Cannery down the street and roll up 10 minutes before your number is due to come up (that's if you're hitting the Yuyuan Lu branch; there are a few around town).
When you make it in, you’ll be rewarded with addictive spicy skewers and an atmosphere that’s probably the closest to an old-school street-food shaokao spot that you can get while being indoors, spread over three small floors.
You basically pick by the skewer a range of meats, vegetables, tofu, and whatever else you can think of, plus maybe some noodles if you need something a bit more filling. The dan dan mian are solid enough, as are the rice noodles. Everything is pretty cheap per skewer, but you obviously want at least one per-type per-person. Still, you’re not likely to be looking at much more than RMB 100 per head, even with beers (which you’ll definitely want). The menu is all in Chinese.
Beware of the spiciness – there are options starting from No Spice to Minimal Spice and then all the way up, but they seem to be really using the real Chengdu scale here. We went for wei la, third up the list from the bottom, and it was already more than some would be able to handle. If that sounds like fun, then this is the place for you.
It’s very simple food, not much in the way of finesse, but Miss Fu in Chengdu packs a lot of flavor and is a great option for fun, communal dining. Once you finally get a table.
Price: Around RMB 100 per person
Summary: Lively, always packed Sichuan spot specializing in chuan chuan, or spicy skewers. Good for chili junkies, small beer-fueled group dinners, and off-beat date for couples into spicy Chinese food.
Here’s the low-down on the latest action-
The Beef: Located in the Hongqiao Takashimaya department store – so you know this place is fancier than your usual department store Chinese restaurant. Literally translates as "Crab Tree".
Specialty here is crab (curried, peppered, casserole, boiled, baked, drunken, in soybean milk…), a bit reminiscent of Singaporean crab outposts known throughout the city. There is a variety of crab served here- the red crab, as well as their hairy cousins famously from YanCheng Lake (which are seasonal, best eaten as the winter cold begins to set), and the monster Alaska King Crab.
We opted for the Steamed Crab Covered Egg Custard in Scallion Oil. The crab was meaty and sweet, the egg custard was a bit too hard. Overall a decent dish but wasn’t blown away by it. There were definitely standout dishes here that didn’t involve crab.
The other dishes here are a mix of Chinese – Sichuan peppercorn beef; Shanghaiese hongshaorou, and creative fusion dishes such as the Crab Meat Wheat Salad - more hor d’oeuvre than salad but was a fan favorite. Another exceptional dish felt like a Cantonese take, Braised Fugu. Yes, pufferfish! The kind that you could die from eating raw, so toxic it takes less than an hour to kill you. Ok, so the cooked version wasn’t living life on the edge, but it was definitely one of the most memorable dishes I have had in awhile. The fish meat was extremely tender, braised in Cantonese abalone sauce (“bao zhi”) and merited a separate order of an entire bowl of rice to eat with it – heaven. The only part of that dish I didn’t agree with was the skin – texture was chewy collagen but also very prickly, I felt like I was eating a baby cactus. Not pleasant and a bit hard to swallow.
The Motive: Fancy local Chinese food with a focus on crab (don’t need to be much of a sleuth to figure that one out). Great for "older" out of town guests for a bit of a splurge. Although it’s still in a department store – there were more floor staff than customers here so a nice respite from other overcrowded malls in downtown Shanghai.
The Damage: 350RMB/pax, approx. 1,500RMB for 4. Alcohol not included.
The Down n’ Dirty: In the mall, but this is a fancy Japanese one so expect the same maniacal level of sterile when it comes to the facilities.
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.