"I've been in the Hai since 2002. A time when if you met a foreigner on Fuxing Lu by chance, you would become friends instantly." -- Ox
Originally from the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, Harauld Sextus, a.k.a. Ox, is the super chill dude behind The Shanghai Bakery, that tiny island of sweets and sandwiches on Yanping Lu. After working in advertising and video for a decade, he decided to follow in his parents' footsteps and become a baker. Three years ago he got serious and started baking bread every day, studying via every bread-making video he could find and traveling to bakeries in London and Paris. Eventually some chef friends encouraged him to start selling the bread, and now it's a full operation.
The bakery is going well. On a recent Sunday, they had sold out of all their bread by 1pm, and more and more restaurants want to source from them. Ox makes the desserts every morning, and they can appear slightly hunched over due to their lack of gelatin. The place feels like a laboratory -- one with really good vibes.
In the near future, they'll start selling bokit, a super heavy fried street sandwich from Guadeloupe. This place is probably the smallest bakery in the universe, so they might expand a bit, too. An art films screening called "Videoblanket" and a new afternoon tea delivery service are in the works as well. Basically, if you want some rare desserts in the park, they can make that happen. Ox is also the chef for this month's Shanghai Supperclub on March 18 and 19, which will convene in an old converted swimming pool.
With that, here's his five picks for restaurants in Shanghai:
The Dish: Fish Risotto
"I wasn’t expecting much when I went to this place but the whole drama of finding it and the comfort that overwhelmed us as soon as we stepped the front door put me in a great mood. The dishes are executed with perfection. The care and attention to details make me
drool over the food.
They are not what you can really call vegetarian friendly, but their fish risotto is an exception I can make anytime. So creamy, with al dente rice and an amazing aroma. The Pan Fried Scallops is also a great moment full of emotions. The veggies on this plate are simply wonderfully cooked. Fresh and juicy and just cooked enough. Not just some lazy ass green on the side. And the scallops, they are just melting in your mouth... Oh la la.
And Ladies and gentlemen of course the desserts are my favorite part of their menu! They have everything I like in sweets: playful, not too sweet, and adventurous."
The Dish: Avocado Toast, Shakshuka
"I don't have the luxury to sit down for breakfast everyday. Just once a week. I like a long-lasting breakfast full of goodness. A breakfast where you feel like you're starting the day doing something good for yourself.
At EGG I like the simple, elegant and easy on your nerves interior. And moreover, the people at EGG are just awesome, welcoming, and friendly. As far as the food, I really like that delicious avocado tartine. So yummy and inviting and there's nothing better than avocado on toast. Another big favorite is the shakshuka. It's rich, packed with flavor and has the perfect texture. Seriously you peeps have to try!
P.S: Don't come on Monday please, it's my day off and I want the place to myself ;)"
3. Ramen Shop
The Dish: Veggie Ramen
"Japanese food takes a huge place in my food cravings and there's nothing better than some good ramen. The best place for ramen in town, hands down, is Ramen Shop. Their veggie broth is the bomb. So succulent, and the broth has the perfect consistency. Not watery or nor like mayonnaise -- just right.
The veggies are cut beautifully and that reminds me of my mom's Sunday night soup. To kill time she used to cube the veggies while most of the other folks will use a food mill and get away with it faster. That little detail is what makes this Ramen bloody inviting. Yummy!"
4. Hua Yue
The Dish: Okonomiyaki
"Every time I go there, I’m exited like a 5 year old. Not because I’m going sightseeing to the Gubei side of the Hai, but because I know it will be a feast at Hua Yue. They have those mouth watering okonomiyaki. Comfort food, man. This restaurant is home cooking-style and the food is served at a good pace, just like when you go back to your hometown and every dish is your favorite because your mom is making all of them.
The vibe is down-to-earth but if you're lucky enough to be there while a group of salary-men are having fun, you switch from the calm intimacy of a Yoshino home-cooked meal to the craziness of a night in Osaka. This is also how the food feels to me: simple, unpretentious, and delicious, with few ingredients or loaded with a rich selection of items topped with tender and fluffy bouncy noodles. It is the only place where I jump off my seat with noodles still packed my mouth and say: Umai!"
5.Wu Guan Tang (Xinhua Lu)
The Dish: Baked Potato
"As a garlic intolerant vegetarian, this place is almost my cantina. Just some solid food where I don’t need to worry about the contents of my plate. Also, the approach of their cuisine is not only based on mock meat, which is very often the case with Asian vegetarian restaurants. They've created so many fun and tasty dishes. "The bag of 5 treasure” or the Curry inside a homemade bread loaf are pretty great. The food is well balanced and the waitress will even tell you if you order too much food.
The location itself is already worth the visit. In the winter, I prefer hiding in the private rooms, while in the spring and summer, I enjoy some good fresh air on the lovely rooftop. This is a real vegetarian lifestyle place. They deliver your lunch box and trust me this is a meal for a champ.
The whole delivery thing use to be so cool and it felt like a movie scene. You order food and this super polite and nice old man will bring that lunch box wrapped into a picnic tea towel with a bright smile. It's like they're sending good love with the lunchbox. Well now I stay too far they don’t deliver so I ride down there."
The Shanghai Bakery is at 425 Yangping Lu.