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[First Bite]: le Daily, No-Nonsense Sandwiches From the Guy Behind SOiF

It's small. It's simple. Francois Seguin's newest concept has already caught a crowd.
2021-04-26 19:00:00
Photos: Angela Leung

Le Daily is a sandwich spot on Wuding Lu. They also do snacks, salads, wine by the glass and beer on tap. From a window onto the street, they sell coffee. You can't make reservations. It's small. It's simple. A place to walk in, grab lunch and have a drink while you do. Behind the scenes is Andrew Moo of Taste Collective and burger pop-up Two Hands Burger consulting on the food. Michael Chen of Cannery mixology fame is doing drinks, and Francois Seguin of SOiF is front of house.

It's very new - as in by the time you're reading this, the place will probably be just over a week old - but it's already packing in the customers. We went at about 1pm on a weekday and had to wait 20 minutes for two seats. The place is small, with room for only 20 on barstools around a few high tables and along a bar. Ferns hang in baskets from the ceiling, and rectangular lamps with orange bulbs hang over the tables. Behind the bar is a shelf stacked with mustards, homemade pickles, PAO soda reserves, and a stereo dishing out music that can't really be heard over the buzz of people chatting and drinking over sandwiches. Seguin is at the heart of all this, gliding around the tiny restaurant, dropping off orders, overseeing food prep and clinking glasses with the customers.

Le Daily's menu isn't huge. It has four sandwiches, three salads (that can be ordered alone for 48rmb, or added to your sandwich as a side for 25rmb) and a selection of snacks. Things sell out fast. The Shanghai Rueben, (88rmb) has a very limited number of servings a day due to the lengthy process of making their homemade hongshao pastrami. They tally the number of these sold on a tiled wall behind the bar. On Thursday, there were 20 tallies and a note saying "Sold out. See you tomorrow."

"Sold Out. See you tomorrow."

They also list a daily special sandwich on these tiles; Salmon Gravlax (78rmb) when we went. It turned out to be the same as the Tomato and Labneh (58rmb) but switching from slices of fresh heirloom tomatoes to smoked salmon. Both are delectable.

Salmon Gravlax for 78rmb.

I must have seen the last of the Morcilla Sausage Rolls (58rmb), a plump Spanish blood-sausage wrapped in pastry so flaky it was baklava-esque, because when I went to order it, it was gone. And by the time the guy behind us sat down, the only sandwich left available was the Eat Your Greens (58rmb), a kale and mozzarella creation, toasted. Also, delicious.

Eat Your Greens for 58rmb.

Le Daily is next to SOiF, Francois Seguin's other concept and right in the beating heart of Jing'an. SOiF's influence is still visible in le Daily's use of only natural wines (68 or 78rmb per glass) and the fact that the staff are wearing SOiF shirts. The two places complement each other well. While SOiF caters for the evening crowd with more refined food options and a larger selection of wines, le Daily does the daytime crowd with its simple menu of no-nonsense fare and small selection of drinks to accompany.

They are still in very soft opening, Seguin was adamant about that, and it's written on top of the menus, as well as being penned on the window with their soft opening hours 10am-5.45pm (just in time for SOiF to open at 6). There's talk of staying open into the early hours of the morning, and I expect this is where we'll see Michael Chen's influences behind the bar.

Servings will be increasing too so you might not need to arrive when the kitchen opens at 11am to get that Shanghai Rueben, though Seguin was clear that priority number 1 is quality ingredients, and that they aren't about to sacrifice that just to do more covers. Delivery options were also mentioned once they've got a good source of eco-friendly packaging. For now, it seems they're pretty content with what they've got; I don't blame them, it's damn good.


Salivating a sambo? Well check out SmartShanghai's Sandwich Venue Directory to see what's near you.