Onwards with the F&B venues pile-on. SmSh has a look at the Sprout Works offshoot in the IAPM Mall Ban Ban, the new gimmicky burgers place OH.MY.BURGER, a newly opened outlet from Bistro Burger in that little Hengshan Lu expansion called Crafted, and the new art damaged drinks lounge behind Dada bar Ruin.
Quick Take: Sproutworks’ new branch let you create hippie bowls with various nutrients and fusion flavors.
What Is It: Very nice. Great for healthy, quick and filling meal — the new Ban Ban by Sproutworks is on the fifth floor of IAPM. Inspired by the emerging Buddha bowl trend, this small restaurant shares the same quality that makes Sproutworks so popular — freedom to create you own nourishing meal, flavorful recipes, and a casual, vibrant environment. Each bowl costs 65rmb, and you can choose from 3 bases, 6 kinds of proteins, and 6 flavors — mostly South East Asian — and then they make the assortment of various vegetables for you, along with some small sides, soups and desserts. The food is well-seasoned, colorful and their spices stand is just amazing. A bit pricey, though — extra noodles cost you 25rmb, a plain broth is 15rmb. But the bowl is large and full of healthy goodies.
Why hasn’t Happy Cow put Ban Ban in their app yet?
First Impressions: Buddha bowls is one Shanghai trend we can get behind and Ban Ban offers lots of variety, with an eye to differing tastes. Lots of combinations and permutations. Bright flavors, fresh food... what's not to like? (Well, those upgrades may be a little expensive.)
Quick Take: A meeting of Western and Eastern tastes and flavors in the medium of the hamburger. They serve Shanghai's first "Ramen Burger".
What Is It: The ramen burger debuted in New York in 2013, a creation of chef Keizo Shimamoto, so it's juuuuust about time for Shanghai to be getting in on the hype. Says ramen king Shimamoto of the platonic ideal ramen burger: "It's a tad crispy on the outside, and inside, it's still chewy. When you bite into it, (the ramen) separates in your mouth, rather than in your hand." Yep, that sounds about right. A restaurant called OH.MY.BURGER in Shanghai (no relation to the Cali venue) is now doing the same. Here's OH.MY.BURGER's version (70rmb) &mdahs; a real heavy, heavy burger with a fried egg and arugula in the mix.
Their other signature burger gimmick is their bao chicken burger (70rmb), which is a pretty straight-up breaded chicken burger with China's favorite sheet-white flour bao / mantou bun performing the work of the traditional bread.
In addition to these, they have more in their line of east-meets-west burger offerings including a shredded pork variation (65rmb), Sichuan beef (70rmb), tropical chicken (65rmb), and avocado fish (70rmb). In the future they're looking to add more zany items to the menu: chicken wings with Coca Cola sauce (Bonjour Paul Pairet), ramen mini hotdogs, and more.
Sort of a weird dining environment with a mish-mash of textures, colors, and styles. This is definitely a singular restaurant in Shanghai...
First Impressions: This is definitely a singular restaurant in Shanghai. The burgers are big and heavy. I'd like to come back and try the Sichuan beef. The Ramen Burger was indeed an experience. A big messy egg exploding over springy noodles and a big slab of beef. Gahh. Think I got most of it all over my face. Might be one of these things you try just once in the interests of leading a full and complete life. Now's the time to try it for yourself: Opening deal is a burger, fries, and drink for 85rmb.
Quick Take:The second outing from the Bistro Burger guys, it's a bit fancier, it's a bit more upscale, it's still pretty good.
What Is It: The Bistro Burger guys have opened up a spot on Hengshan Lu that's looking to move a little away from the "burger" and closer to the "bistro." In addition to a few nods to the original, they've got some seafood, some hot-dogs, some salads, some steak. Just an all round more balanced fare landing on the plate. They provide a little basket of toasted bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar to dip it in. Expect to hand out about 100rmb if you're sticking to the burgers and 'dogs, 200-300rmb if you're going for varying degrees of fancy surf'n'turf.
The space's nice, big windows, couple of booths, that sort of clean white-tile aesthetic that can look a bit soulless on a grey day. Definitely missed the warmth of Bistro Burger in there. But they do have a very pretty rooftop terrace. People like rooftop terraces.
First Impressions: Lobster with Macaroni and Cheese (158rmb) is just close enough to sounding like a joke that I can wholly get behind it. I'm a fan. Good stuff. Meanwhile, the burgers are still Bistro Burger quality, so, you know, they're good. Overall, yeah, didn't set my heart on fire, didn't fill me with warm-glowing contentment, but Crafted is... well-crafted. Eheh.
Quick Take: From the makers of Dada bar comes Ruin bar, an '80s-chic, industrial lounge space in the back of Dada where the record store used to be.
What Is It: A godsend for the aging. A godsend for the aging poorly. A godsend for the aging spitefully. Like, I still kind of want to be a part of the youthful goings-on at "underground nightclubs" and such, and all the latest "electronic dance music", but, also, hey, I'd very much prefer to have the youths of out of my goddamn face, and for the "electronic dance music" to be at the volume of a low murmur at most. Youths: friggin' drains on society.
So that's what Ruin is. It's a seating area in the back of Dada bar split into two floors — it's taller than it is long — with a parking garage at the side ideal for disdainfully smoking cigarettes in. There's lounge-ish seating on booth floors. It's called "Ruin" because it looks like a ruin: exposed brick, unfinished concrete, mismatched furniture, limbless manikins, a bar top that is three red oil drums. This is called "industrial shabby chic". Or "we ran out of renovations funds". Looks pretty neat though. Like a New York art loft. Which dovetails nicely with one's given sense of worth, refinement, and superiority.
Ruin drinks are unique to Ruin; you can't get them at Dada and vice versa. On offer are a few nice wines, a few nice China craft beers (Arrow Factory's Guanxi Pale Ale is a must-try), some nice spritzes, some balloon glass G 'n' Ts, and a vodka soda using Tito Vodka out of Austin. Drinks are nice and simple.
First Impressions: Yeah, I was worried I was aging out of Dada but now with this more low-key lounge space, I can continue giving them my money indefinitely. I like it. It's comfortable, unique, and conducive to conversation. Drinks are simple and elegant. I can pretend I know about the music and have interesting insights on it, without having to hear it. That's all I'm looking for really.