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First Bite: Boom Boom Bagels On Anfu Lu

Apr 23, 2015 | 11:49 Thu
The people behind street bar Dogtown and Sumerian, that bean-roasting coffee shop on Shanxi Bei Lu, have taken their coffee-roasting cash and ploughed it into a bagel store on Anfu Lu. By day it’s been doing a roaring lunchtime trade. By night the place becomes an after-work bar selling craft ales to the creative shit-birds who work in The Center, that big blue building across the street.

Boom Boom Bagels bakes their bagels fresh each morning and offers a choice of seven fillings. They're all over the map:

chorizo, roasted peppers, pulled pork, bbq slaw, smoked chicken, and so forth. There's a slightly more conventional smoked salmon with red onion, green olives, ricotta and cream cheese butter. All of those are 55rmb. Two breakfast fellas, one with egg, mozzarella and cream cheese, and another with peanut butter, banana and honey, are both 35rmb.

All of them are really messy to eat. Like, you need a spoon and a bib, or maybe a pair of those polythene gloves they give you when you're eating Xiao Long Xia. Well, you can't fault a place for over-filling their sandwiches. But if you don't fancy getting that all over your face, you can plump for something regular like cream cheese or semi-regular like hummus (8rmb per topping) spread on a choice of plain, sea salt, sesame, parmesan cheese or everything bagel (all 12rmb).

They've done well to make the space work. This used to be a grotty Taiwanese restaurant but now it's all walk-up concrete counters with stools. Some on-the-street seating at a long counter. Nice lighting and room for a few dozen people to stand and drink when the evening crowd comes in.

Three beers on tap: the 4.5% Boom Boom Unfiltered Lager, a 5.8% California pale ale made with Sumerian's cold brew coffee, and Brew Dog's Jack Hammer, a 7.2% IPA. All those are 35rmb from 5-8pm, as are a few cocktails -- a bloody mary, some spritzy Aperol thing, and something with gin and lager that sounds pretty raunchy. The drinks menu, like the food, is pleasantly limited. They're not trying to offer everything to everyone, just a few things that the owners can get behind. During happy hour they also do open-faced pizza bagels for 30rmb. Equally sloppy to eat. Good with beer.

I like this place, but slightly more as a bar than as a bagel shop. The one thing that's still a bit of a work in progress is the bagels themselves. They're a little tough and heavy. They're just not as great as those at Spread The Bagel. Sorry, just got to say it. Boom Boom is going to do well, though. They already are. The space looks good. The beer selection is top-hole. The sandwiches are interesting, perhaps to the point of being wacky. The service is friendly and pretty smooth. To me, the bagels themselves are a bit of a letdown right now. But then everyone likes their bagels different ways, so maybe it's just me.

Extra bonus points because right now they're asking patrons to get naked with them during the soft opening. Fuck yeah to soft openings. I'm totally turned around on this now. More nudity is exactly what soft openings need.

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