Here’s the low-down on the latest action-
The Beef: This was probably my biggest gripe about the place – that it was located within an office building. I think a place like this could do even better if it opened late (past 10pm). Because it’s such an interesting place to eat, and it would want to come here for late night bites and flavored sochu. When we arrived by 8:30pm (on a Monday night, to be fair), the place was already felt desolate and empty. The décor was simple, modern, and clean but lacked a bit of warmth and light for a cold evening.
We plopped right down and hit the menu – a veteran Japanese food-eater like most people, I still was rather intrigued by the menu as I had no idea what to expect from the selection. Grilled sardine with mentaiko, cream stew salmon udon, duck soup soba, fried horse mackerel fish sandwich…(wait, were there 2 or 3 animals in that last one?) And the daring use of natto in several dishes. A risky move considering natto is probably one of the most pungent “disgusting delicacies” (as featured on a Forbes list) – it’s soybean fermented with a specific type of bacteria. Natto and cheese combo in a crepe-like sandwich (pictured) was flavorful, salty, stinky, and savory with just the right amount of unami. The udon noodles here were the best (starch) I’ve had in Shanghai, perfectly chewy and with the right amount of “elasticity”. Highly recommend the seared salmon sashimi (also pictured), so refreshing and citrusy…our favorite dish by far with its combo of sprouts, garlic chips, sweet onions. This is definitely the dish I would come back for. And yes, I even continued to fantasize about it the next day.
The Gang: Small groups coming in for a bite, nothing too (or even remotely) rowdy.
The Motive: Definitely need to go back for the flavored sochu! They have 15+ homemade jars on display, infused with everything from fruits (pomelo, papaya, berries, pomegranate) to jujube, coffee, olives, cucumber, and more. And not bad at 50rmb/glass. How many flavors do I get to try before getting tipsy?
The Damage: 50% off udon on Mondays. Udons priced from 55-70rmb, dishes range from 25-65rmb. Avg. 150rmb/pax ex-alcohol.
The Down n’ Dirty: Glad I didn’t have to go into the deserted office building. Easily accessible, and like all Japanese toilets, very clean. No waterfall noises though.
Xime does Japanese comfort food with inventive twists in all the right places, in a laidback, stylish setting with decent pricing. Usually a great soundtrack, too. That makes it kind of unique given that downtown Shanghai’s Japanese places, as good as some of they are, tend to be either classic izakayas, all-you-can-eat teppanyaki black holes and performative, high-end sushi spots.
What really separates it is the menu, though. It goes deeper than sashimi – though they have that, too, at a great quality to price ratio – offering everything from hearty, shareable Japanese hotpot to soba and rice sets, udon noodles and more. They even do Japanese sandwiches filled with things like grilled mackerel and pork katsu.
My most recent visit was on a Monday night, when they do a killer buy-one-get-one deal on all their bowls of udon noodles. The original prices of these hover between the mid-50’s and mid 70’s, so you can get a big hearty bowl on the cheap and free up some wallet space to split something else between a party of two. I’d recommend the sesame salad, the proper name of which I unfortunately can’t remember (pictured).
I’m a big fan of the Beef Curry Udon (pictured). It’s a dish I tried when visiting Tokyo and I honestly don’t know why it isn’t more prevalent abroad. The version here is as good as the version I had there – rich curry broth, tender beef slices and toothsome noodles. It contains a sprinkling of pumpkin seeds and raisins, which do wonders for the texture of the bowl and add little bumps of sweetness. The menu is full of these nice little details that add a bit of depth to everything and remind you that this is a more modern, explorative kind of Japanese spot.
Another udon highlight – the chicken meatball version, which comes in a lighter broth with extra chewy pieces of tofu. It’s chicken noodle soup’s way hipper cousin. Order it on a cold evening.
That’s a round-up of some very specific dishes, but it gives you a good idea of what you’re going to get here. It’s quality stuff, hearty and familiar while still being interesting enough to get foodies talking over the table. In a chill environment, to boot. A neighborhood spot that’s worth travelling to even if it’s not in your neighborhood.
Also, when I sat down to eat last week they were playing Outkast’s ‘Spottieottiedopalicious”. That’s an extra point right there.
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