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First Bite: naked Bite

May 26, 2015 | 23:49 Tue
The people behind Moganshan resort naked Retreats have opened a café on Wuyuan Lu. You can see the pictures from last week’s opening party here. It’s a full-on restaurant, but the menu and the vibe make it feel like a café -- sunny outside seating, bookshelves, wide glass windows, wooden floors, vintage stuff scattered around to give the place a casual vibe. Airy and bright with room to breath, this place was clearly designed by a team who know exactly what Shanghai’s café crowd wants.

The food is precisely what you’d expect from naked and their eco-chic ethos. Take this little number: a roasted tofu salad with shredded kale, red quinoa, pickled broccoli, beetroot, basil and carrot-chili dressing (55rmb). Now if that salad were a person, I probably wouldn’t want to sit next to them at a dinner party. But it’s healthy, fresh, and exactly what this clientele wants. How did it taste -- not terribly exciting, but I don’t think that’s anyone’s fault. Creating a terribly exciting tofu salad is one nut mankind’s finest minds have yet to crack.

Currently they're just doing breakfast and lunch during the week. On a lunch visit, the tuna-vermicelli salad (95rmb) came out with large chunks of seared, pink-in-the-middle tuna loin, red and green peppers, tomato, seared mushrooms, ginger, garlic, coriander, lime juice and a sweet chili and sesame oil dressing. Sounds a bit more sexy, that one, and the tuna was good, though the rest was a little bland. After the top layer, it was really just a large bowl of iceberg lettuce.

Other options abound on the lunch menu, with three sandwiches and four entrees, like paninis (veg or salami), a roast beef baguette, organic curry, beef tenderloin, seared tiger prawns, and a chicken burger.

Those are all available in sets that include the soup of the day (creamy broccoli on this visit, and really good), a fruit salad just a little too small to pay much attention to, and a coffee or soft drink. Sets run from 78rmb if you want a salad, 88rmb for a sandwich, or 108rmb with an entrée, and given the brand and how nice this place looks, those prices seem more than fair.

The dinner menu, available on Friday and Saturday only for now, is more elaborate but of the same type: anti-oxidant beet-root tartar with crumbled goats cheese (78rmb); slow-cooked pork belly with white bean mash and watercress (78rmb); scallops with miso, sesame dressing and seaweed salad (125rmb). And while that sort of language can sound eye-rollingly smug, it certainly appeals to the upscale crowd and given how nice the place feels, I’ll be back for dinner. While we’re on that, the wine list is worth mentioning -- 10 types of Champagne, 30 bottles of red wine, and a cocktail list that was nothing to sniff at. And none of those prices looked nuts, either.

So, despite the slight sensation that this is a marketing outpost for an expensive holiday resort, it’s certainly a good bet for a healthy lunch or a respectable dinner with the sort of beautiful, healthy friends of yours who know how to pronounce quinoa. And all for not much more than you’d spend at Mr Willis, or even a hole-in-the-wall chancer microwaving salmon pasta in the back room.


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