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[On the Radar]: Green Common

The newest restaurant to test if plant-based meats can live up to expectations.
2021-02-07 12:00:00
Photos: Brandon McGhee
On The Radar: On the Radar is a SmartShanghai column profiling new restaurants, bars, and other new places you might like to know about. Sometimes we stumble across these venues and sometimes... we are invited. As such, these are our first impressions and not a formal review.

Green Common

Suite 49, 1/F, 1139 Changning Lu,... View ListingTaxi Printout

What Is It: Green Common is a popular Hong Kong import that focuses on plant-based food. There's a café, a small market downstairs and a proper dining resto upstairs. The market downstairs has a decent selection of take-home meat-substitute products, including OmniPork patties, Luncheon meat, Beyond Beef patties, Just Egg replacements, and a whole refrigerator dedicated to plant-based milk and yogurts. The snacks offered also share the same philosophy, such as the plant-based salted-caramel malteser. Displayed inside are other products that can be delivered by scanning a QR code. Examples include; Alpha "Chicken" Nuggets, Gardein "Crab" Cakes, and Moving Mountains Plant-Based Hot Dogs.

Green Common was started by David Yeung, the founder and CEO of Green Monday Group – a social venture that focuses on promoting greater awareness of climate change, food insecurity and public health. After developing OmniPork, a pork replacement, in North America for two years, David opened Green Common as a brick & mortar strategy to popularize the new products and raise awareness of global sustainability in Asia. Hence the name, Green Common “to make green… common”. Clever.

Area: Just down the street from Cloud Nine Shopping Mall, Green Common is located in Changning Raffle City (Zhongshan Park area) on 1139 Changning Lu. Changning Raffle City is home to many other eateries including Gaga Café, Morganfield’s, Baker&Spice and Paulaner Bräuhaus.

Atmosphere: The décor is simple, and favors a youthful vibe. Nice to grab a seat near the floor-to-ceiling windows. Orange and green pastel colors give way to the patches of forest located on the ceiling. It’s unpretentious, with the food as the focus.

Dishes To Try: Green Common serves both Western and Asian cuisine, with some dishes mixing elements of the two. You’d think you were looking at an Element Fresh menu from its offerings: soups, salads, curries, burgers, pizzas, Asian fare and more. Everything is freshly prepared in-house with a focus on natural ingredients (i.e. save for the plant base proteins, they keep processing to a minimum).

For local flavors, one of the must-try dishes are the spicy dumplings. Just like how it would be done in any Shanghainese resto, these “pork” dumplings are served in a spicy chili sauce. The plant-based meat has a nice texture, which could fool most people if you didn’t tell them that “it’s not made of Babe”.

Spicy Dumplings

There are also the luncheon plant-based meat fries, which are paired with a very dippable BBQ ranch dressing.

Plant-based Meat Fries

In the mains section, another OmniPork dish is the pork cutlet, which lies neatly on a vegetable purée curry base, giving it a nice, rich thickness. It carries a subtle hint of heat, without feeling overwhelming for you spice fear-mongers.

Pork Cutlet with Vegetable Curry

If you feel like a burger, then the bacon burger would be the priority choice. They do this with a Beyond Beef patty. The onion rings and plant-based bacon nicely layer a smokey flavor and crunchy texture It’s a decent offering.

Beyond-Beef Bacon Cheeseburger

You can find a nice variety of desserts as well. Apple crumble pie, tiramisu and French toast (this is probably one of the only, if not the only, place in Shanghai to have a vegan French toast) are some of the standard options offered in a plant-based form.

OmniPork Sushi

Damage: The average dining price comes to about 120rmb per person for two mains, an appetizer and dessert to share. This will leave you satisfied. Starters range from about 28rmb for half a plate of purple yam hummus, to 4rmb bao buns.

Rainbow Salad

Main dishes range from 52rmb for “egg-less” toast to a 138rmb strip loin platter. Desserts range from a 38rmb apple crumble pie to a Hong Kong-style French toast priced around 56rmb.

Kimchi Fried Rice

Beverages include a variety of juices, smoothies and Coffee-based drinks (that are also made with plant-based milk). Prices range from a 28rmb Americano to a 43rmb green juice (don’t be afraid of this, it’s actually probably the best drink on the menu) and 42rmb oat milk smoothie.

For those feeling a little swanky, alcoholic beverages are also available—we say this because it's quite rare to find spirits in many vegan establishments in Shanghai. Red and white wines start at 259rmb per bottle (49rmb by the glass). How about going all out and pop a bottle of Champagne for a fairly reasonable 699rmb per bottle.

Who's Going: Flexitarian foodies, young locals chasing health food trends and….. Buddhists! (They have a Buddhist friendly menu you can ask for).