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[The Brunch Review]: November 2017 - The Found 158 Edition

Here are your brunch options in the sunken city. Hooked, El Santo, and Pera on this month’s edition of The Brunch Review.
By Nov 7, 2017 Dining
The Brunch Review is our monthly column pinpointing great (and not so great) brunch spots around town. Brunch on, y'all. Let the world burn.

***

Found 158 is kind of like a big empty swimming pool during the day light hours. Kinda felt like I was going to get sideswiped by some terrible skateboarder — some greasy-haired ruffian — some marijuana addict, degenerate, drain on society-type — right while I was trying to partake in western civilization’s most hallowed, solemn, and important tradition: the brunch.

Harrowing.

Basically, all the restaurants in Found 158 are open for daytime business on Saturday and Sunday. German beer and food from Zapfler draws a few people. Homeslice pizza is always good. You’ve got Vietnamese from Cyclo, Mito is there, and Le Cafe de la Stataigigiairerress is also open and serving.

Specifically for brunch, however, the name of this game, you’ve got just three options:

1. Hooked


B1/F, 158 Julu Lu, near Ruijin Yi Lu View ListingTaxi Printout

Shanghai"
Bloody Mary Oyster Shooter

The Deal: Hooked offers a big clipboard of a la carte options by courses: 1 course, 85rmb; 2 courses, 145rmb; 3 courses, 165rmb. If you get more involved options you have to tack on 35rmb to 90rmb extra. Free-flow options include the "2-hours free-flow" for 128rmb (sparkling, house wine, house lager) and 198rmb for "Premium Free-Flow" which is the entry level free-flow plus Bloody Marys, Peddlers Gin, and a few more. Brunch available Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 3pm.


Hooked offers up the most popular brunch in Found 158. On all three weekends we went down there, the venue was at near-capacity: tables of families with strollers; well-dressed ladies embracing their fabulous weekend selves; and groups of yuppy British-ey looking people cheers’ing each other and looking a bit bleary-eyed blotto. On inspection of the menu, the reason why becomes immediately evident: It’s the same brunch as The Bull & Claw, Shanghai’s favorite brunch, served to this exact same crowd across town on Fenyang Lu. The menu is tweaked a little to fit the Hooked branding — here the “Bull & Claw Breakfast” is called the “Hooked Breakfast” — and a few items are switched out— but it’s pretty much the same thing.

So yeah. You’re mixing and matching courses, depending on how deep you want to dive. The first course is an involved drink — we got the oyster shooter. Then the second course is lighter fruits, granola, pancakes, and French toast, with the main course being a few egg-based dishes (standard breakie and a few eggs benedicts).

hooked
Smashed Avocado and Feta

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Hooked Breakfast

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The Pancake Tower

And?

Pretty, pretty, pretty great. Classic brunch fare tweaked a bit upwards, with some good personality in the dishes. Great drinks selection to accompany it. I can see why it's popular. It's not cheap, in particular when most of the dishes require additional charges, but I can see splurging on this once in a while. I found the brunch at The Bull & Claw a bit disappointing last month but had a good experience at Hooked. Maybe it was just knowing what to order. Arriving in a skillet, the standard breakfast platter was indeed hearty and meaty good times, and although The Pancake Tower wasn't exactly towering it was also delicious. French Toast is also great.

If you're a fan of The Bull & Claw brunch but didn't make your reservations, here's your Plan B.

*

2. El Santo


B1/F, 158 Julu Lu, near Ruijin Yi Lu View ListingTaxi Printout

elsantobrunch

The Deal: El Santo hosts the “El Santo Weekend Brunch” menu on Saturdays and Sundays from 11am to 3pm, which is a mix of their lunch and dinner items along with a few special Mexi-breakfast items you can only get at this time. Menu items from 65rmb. Free-flow option: 128rmb for 90 minutes of free flow sparkling or hibiscus mimosa. Drinks specials: 128rmb for buckets of five Coronas; margarita pitchers.


If you’re looking to jazz up your basic brunch life a bit with some Mexican fare, hey, would you look at that, El Santo is right next to Hooked in Found 158 and serving up their own brunch menu. Fewer tables than Hooked but business was still good when we went down, with people who looked like they were trying to solve hangovers. And also, those seasoned experts in Mexican cuisine and culture: Americans.

You’re looking at a one-pager that combines their general menu items — five or six varieties of taco, nachos, enchiladas — along with a few specific brunch-ey things: “Breakfast Burrito”: 68rmb; “Choriqueso & Sunny Eggs Pot”: 78rmb; Wagyu & Guacamole Eggs Benedict”: 98rmb.

We’ll get to the food in a minute but I’m telling you right now the main draw of El Santo is that they show luchador wrestling on the teevee which is a very nice touch. Brought back my earliest professional brunch memories, which are of watching WWF wrestling Saturday morning in my jammies, with free-flow Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

But yeah the food is Mexi breakfast gut busters:

elsanto
Guacamole & Corn Chips

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Chilaquilas Duo

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Wagyu & Guacamole Eggs Benedict

And?

It’s greasy. It’s heavy. It’s saucy. It’s paralyzing. It's heart attack-inducing. You won’t have to eat again for several years. It’s also really good. Really satisfying. They make their own chips, which is nice, with some pretty good guac. The Chilaquilas Duo is like breakfast nachos, and the Wagyu thing is best applied directly to your arteries.

Drinks are great too. With some alright prices. 128rmb for free-flow or buckets of Corona or pitchers. Helps to keep those flowing when you're eating in a sunken minimall.

*

3. Pera


B1/F, 158 Julu Lu, near Ruijin Yi Lu View ListingTaxi Printout

pera

The Deal: Pera offers a 188rmb all-in Turkish brunch for two. It’s basically a big spread of small bites to share, with an egg main dish, plus a range of options for more food. The free-flow option is a 135rmb additional charge to have at it with wine. Available Saturday and Sunday 11am to 4pm.


If you don’t want to give your money to the Camel Group, Turkish restaurant and bar, Pera is the one, lone holdout for brunch in Found 158. They’re the one teetering opponent to the monopoly in this Found 158 place AKA Yongkang Lu II: What Am I Doing With My Life. Business was sparser. Just a few tables on their outside patio and one couple inside. They’re offering a single brunch order, which is a couples brunch set menu.

188rmb for “Cheese, Olives, Turkish style scrambled eggs with vegetables (Menemen), Cheese Pida, Tomatoes, Cucumber, 2 kinds of Jam, Honey, Butter, Hummus Dip, Spicy Dip, 4 cups of tea or coffee”.

So in addition to that spread, there’s also a range of add-ons on top from 15rmb to 30rmb more — sausages, rolls, chicken dishes, and more.

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Shanghai"

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And?

It's...okay. Kinda feels like they're just assembling lots of items they've got from their pantry that usually accompany evening cocktails — like they're Volton'ing a brunch spread from a bunch of appetizers. It's a lot of bread. Three or four different kinds of bread with a bunch of spreads and sides — hummus, jam, honey, olives, cheese. It's more like a wine and cheese. The Turkish eggs were alright but not as good as some of the pyrotechnic eggs served on the other side of the complex.

On the other hand, it is a fair deal cheaper than either El Santo or Hooked. And the brunch-for-two is a fine option to split with your SO while you ponder the roads not traveled that didn't end at Found 158.


TELL EVERYONE

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