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  • Here’s the low-down on the latest action-

    The Beef: This place first caught my eye with its jewel-toned turquoise façade – amongst all the greys and beiges, it looked like a summer holiday vacation I wanted to dive into. The interior is also gorgeous, a stark contrast to the “90’s décor” of the neighboring Film Art Center, splashed with their signature bright blue and a bit of industrial lighting.

    Niceties aside, the million-dollar question here is…how is the pho (58RMB)? Short answer, not bad. The broth was decent, a bit on the salty side. The rice noodles were good. Side of raw sprouts and herbs, check (although on the puny side). But the long answer here – and the reason I would not come back for pho is that it’s served with beef balls and brisket. Where are my pink, tender, barely cooked pieces of raw beef?! To me, that’s a critical component of the pho experience, and cooking the meat in the soup adds some “bloody love” to the dish.

    The rest of the menu is moderately-sized, featuring Vietnamese spring rolls (fresh and fried), chicken wings, shrimp cakes, stir-fried dishes, etc. The cheery yellow Vietnamese pancake (58RMB) was a bit bland and rather difficult to eat as the bean sprouts and vegetables inside were not chopped so basically had to dissect the dish to eat it – also bc the filling was stir-fried it was rather steamy/soppy and rendered the pancake a bit soggy. The stir fry rib-eye steak and mushrooms (68RMB) surpassed my expectations, generous chunks of tender beef sautéed in a teriyaki-ish sauce and topped off with fried garlic bits.

    Still, overall service and experience was pleasant. Wouldn’t mind returning to try their other dishes another time.

    The Gang: Mostly Chinese, smaller groups of friends and families. Despite being open for 6 months, hasn’t seemed to snag many laowai diners from the Wagas across the street.

    The Motive: For a casual meal around the area. Or if you have a bit of time before catching a flick, it’s a slightly fancier spot to hang out and grab a bite.

    The Damage: Around 200RMB for 2, entrees around 58RMB/68RMB.

    The Down n’ Dirty: Have to go into the Shanghai Film Center – not the cleanest but decent as far as Chinese bathrooms go.

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SmartReviews is SmartShanghai’s crack squad of amateur reviewers, eating their way around the city and writing about it. They have been chosen from a large pool of applicants and given a set of strict guidelines to follow to make sure their reviews are honest, informed and fair to both potential customers and the restaurants themselves.