Atmosphere: Way back in the noughties, when I still had the time and curiosity to browse Reddit, I read a thread about the best burger in the world. Like literally everything else on Reddit, right down to the merits of oxygen for humans, this was a hotly contested topic. Shake Shack was the phrase that lodged in my mind, digitally chanted by a thousand typing fingers and upvoted to Mars. I added it to my mental bucket list.
I’d like to thank the city of Shanghai, right here, for understanding that a lot of people are too lazy to queue at the wanghongest places in the city. Since the original branch opened early this year (this year!), two more restaurants have launched their own concrete flavours and taken some of the queuing strain off the Xintiandi branch. At least, I’m guessing they have. I still haven’t risked the time drain and elbow hazards. I went to the Jing’an branch instead, and walked straight up to the counter. Bliss.
Food: So, I tried the Reddit-approved best burger in the world. It was fine, but not fiiine. The crispy-fried, cheese-filled mushroom burger was at a similar level but ten times messier to eat (90% of the cheese ended up congealed at the bottom of the superfluous paper burger bag), as were the fries.
I even tried the signature concrete – a sesame and chocolate concoction called Happy 2 Be Home (grim) – just to make sure I’d fully experienced this cultural, gastronomical institution. It’s hard to make a sesame-chocolate combination bland, but they’ve somehow managed it at the Kerry Centre Shake Shack. I needed a Snickers afterwards to make me feel alive again.
Service: Surprisingly, placing an order was pretty quick. Staff spoke a little English, and there's a big menu to point at if you don't want to stretch your Mandarin with the concrete names. Once you order, you're given one of those little flashing pucks that vibrates when your order's ready. It took about as long as a Beef and Liberty burger to arrive, it cost about the same, and it wasn't as good. It does give you plenty of time to try to find a seat, though - it's more competitive than a rush hour metro carriage in there.
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