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[On The Radar]: Pelikan, Wheat, and Maia's

The new, new, new this week: beach vibes at the new cafe by Mr. Willis, more healthy eats on Dagu Lu, and a bar that looks like a haunted Perry's.
Last updated: 2016-05-25
On the Radar is a SmartShanghai column profiling new restaurants, bars, and other new places we find interesting. Sometimes we stumble upon these places, and sometimes we are invited, but in both cases, we are never paid to write an opinion, rather, these are our honest first impressions, and not a formal review.
On The Radar is a weekly SmartShanghai column where we profile 2-3 new venues that you might like to know about. Here are the facts and our first impressions.

1. Pelikan


What It Is: A supremely chill café / Nordic restaurant in Jing'an, with beach vibes and incredibly comfortable couches. This is another one by Craig Willis, the Australian who was the chef for Wagas up until Wagas 7, when he started pursuing his own restaurants. Those include Bang!, Mr Willis, La Strada, Henkes, and this. The lunch menu is like high-end café fare: gourmet coffee, oysters, steaks, salads, dishes with veg and seafood, sandwiches, soups, cheese, and desserts. The dinner menu focuses on a 10-course tasting menu by their chef Kasper Pedersen, a FOB Dane. For drinks, there's a big wine list, some craft cocktails, just a few craft beers, and a eight kinds of Gin & Tonics.

Atmosphere: Nice but casual. Like listening to Sade on the beach around sundown, surrounded by flamingos. Even if it's raining outside it's gonna feel sunny in here. You could sink into the couches like the sea. There's big windows, lots of plants, and plenty of nooks to post up in and do some work.

Damage: Upper-mid range. A sandwich, soup, dessert, and water lunch came in at just over 200rmb (but someone with a normal appetite could get down for under 80rmb). The 10-course dinner menu is 300rmb per person. Cocktails are around 80rmb and can reach 135rmb for some of the G&Ts; wine by the glass starts at 70rmb; coffee from 30rmb. Water is free, thankfully.

First Impressions: Looks like a fine place for brunch, lunch, or just a daytime work sesh. For a spot that's only been open a month the service and kitchen is seriously on point. The Cauliflower soup was bomb. Look out for a full review sometime in the next few months, for sure.

- Ian L


2. WHEAT | Healthy Eatery


What It Is: Another healthy eats restaurant with freshly-made salads, whole wheat pastas, smoothies, and a bunch of items with the word "protein" in their names. They list the calories, protein, and carb info for everything on the menu. Eventually you'll be able to customize your meal bowl with exact numbers of carbs, protein, and calories (e.g. "I want a salad with 20 grams of protein and 300 calories"), though this is currently unavailable. They also have a WeChat store where they take delivery orders within 5km.

Atmosphere: Attentive and bilingual staff and mostly health-conscious patrons. On a recent Monday, the couple next to us discussed the universal truths they discovered that morning, how they valued each other's bravery, and how the salad dressing was "beautiful."

Damage: The chicken avocado salad is 79rmb, the broccoli-pork burger is 95rmb, and juices/smoothies are 40-50rmb. Their weekday lunch sets with a main and soup or a drink are 85-98rmb. Smoothies and juices are 40-45rmb and organic coffee is 20-25rmb.

First Impressions: Along with the nutritional info, Wheat pushes the health aspect a bit further than others of its kind (that said, McDonald's in America has nutrition info...). Their pre-made cakes have palm sugar instead of cane, they offer organic coffee and beer, the hollandaise sauce in their Eggs Benedict is butterless, and instead of white rice they only do brown rice and quinoa. But if you just want a salad, it's no different from anywhere else. When the custom food bowls come out, WHEAT might become a popular spot for calorie counters looking to hit that magical number of protein G's everyday.

- XZ Palmer


3. Maia's


What It Is: You know Perry's Bar. Imagine a high school theater adaptation of Perry's. With pirates. That's Maia's, this new dive by Donghua University on Yan'an Lu. They're working with a similar formula: strings of country flags, wooden tables, cheap pizzas, hookahs, super cheap beer (like 100rmb for three liters of Asahi), a playlist with seven Top40 hits of the early and mid-2000s. Somehow Maia's has a bit more soul... a bit more evil than Perry's.

On a recent Tuesday, a server said that not only is Maia's not related to Perry's, Helen's, or Ellen's, he claimed that all of those bars are copies of a place in Lijiang, Yunnan called Sakura Cafe that started in 1996 when this dude Mu Xin fell in love with a Korean study abroad babe named Kim.

Indeed, we may have solved the mystery of Perry's.

Atmosphere: Perry's haunted by the ghosts of fake booze. An eerie red light hangs over everything and a few doors-to-the-unknown feel like reality portals to bad places. The servers are pretty funny. They asked our photographer Rhiannon, "Do you want a real drink or a zhuangbi (fucking poser) drink?"

Damage: You're down to one English tutoring sesh a week, at 150rmb an hour, but you can still afford to party here. Your only income is DJing at URVC, and you can still have a pizza party here.

First Impressions: Obviously, it's a really good time.

- Ian L

And Also...

These are some new places we didn't have a chance to check out yet. If you did, feel free to write a review for a shot at 500rmb in Sherpa's delivery.

1. The Indian Curry Co. -- a North Indian joint just off of Yongkang Lu on Jiashan. Supposedly they've had restaurants in India for 68 years. They've got a full menu as well as a buffet for 88rmb. The chef Samir used to manage Masala Art on Dagu Lu, which has always been good. Should be alright.

2. The Coffee Academics -- Third-wave coffee place from Hong Kong that also has shops in Singapore. Their first Shanghai shop is at Wulumuqi Lu and Dongping Lu.

3. Bites & Brews -- Small shop in Jing'an selling a bunch of bottled beer and some sandwiches. Reviews of the food are mixed, but the beer selection is solid and the vibes are chill. There's a little patio here that's good for people watching.

4. More Than Eat -- The multi-concept first floor of that massive Lost Heaven project we wrote about a few months ago. Still a work in progress, More Than Eat involves a bakery, a butcher, a specialty grocery store, an oyster bar, a wine bar with 44 wines by the glass, a draft beer bar, an ice cream stand, and more.