There’s the ShackBurger – a proprietary blend of Australian Angus beef, lettuce, tomato, American cheese and semi-secret ShackSauce (47rmb/68rmb for single/double). Nothing local about this – it’s a real Ronald Reagan, MTV-watching archetype of a cheeseburger that looks and tastes like your childhood memories of eating fast food that you can’t seem to feel when you eat at regular burger chains anymore.
Then there’s vegetarian Shroom Burger (63rmb): a breaded Portobello mushroom stuffed with a near-pornographic amount of molten cheese. Is it better than the ShackBurger? Yes. I mean it.
There’s also the random ass Shack-cago hot dog (39rmb), which in Rosati’s own words is a dog that’s been “dragged through a garden.” I’m not from Chicago, so forgive me for saying that it seems ungodly to put so many vegetables on fast food. Order this one for your mother-in-law.
Introducing Shake Shack’s China-exclusive flavor milkshake: Strawberry Yu(Zu) Garden (Shanghai pun, geddit?), consisting of vanilla frozen custard with strawberry puree and yuzu juice, topped with matcha cream cheese, whipped cream and matcha powder (43rmb). A strange-tasting combination, which slowly grows on you. Is it trite to point out that matcha and yuzu are Japanese ingredients? Regardless, there’s no denying the proud Chinese tradition of putting cream cheese atop beverages.
Shack’s frozen custard is what really hits the spot though (31rmb/38rmb for single/double). That vanilla flavor? Off the chain velvety. The chocolate flavor is a little weak by comparison, but still worth ordering if you must.
Last but not least, the Frozen Concretes have a touch of the local about them too (39rmb/58rmb for a single/double). The Shack Attack triple chocolate number features chunks of brownie from Shanghai’s very own Al’s Baking Co. There’s the Straw-Bei Li Cheesecake with its own tenuous Chinese pun (‘bei’ means North! 'li' means in), and finally the 'On the Bund’, which has no China connection but is ostensibly named after Shanghai’s most famous place because it tastes the best (Vanilla custard, banana, miso caramel sauce, shortbread and crushed peanuts).
Inside, the Shack looks much like any other of its branches: clean, habitable, the kind of place you’d want to hang around and drink a beer in. If all this has convinced you to want to be among the first to visit the store on January 24, note that the first 200 in line will receive a pair of free Shack earmuffs! Very useful for keeping wind chill at bay in the 2-hour line you’ll be standing in.