So I’m in Shanghai for the next month and caved into paying for a VPN. I couldn’t last a whole 4-5 weeks with no access to my blog! You know what else I miss in China? Yelp. Yes, part of me understands why it’s blocked in China, but Yelp could totally be the Holy Grail for foreigners here in Shanghai. There are SO many restaurants here and a real lack of reviews. Fear not! I am here to try and fill in those gaps for you. While you may judge me for eating at Western restaurants in Shanghai, please note that I also eat plenty of Chinese food. There’s just really good Western food that you can’t pass up.
I just got back from one of those nights. One of those magical nights that remind you why you love China so freaking much. My friend Vanessa* and I tried out a new Spanish restaurant called Bocado, located in the French Concession on the 2nd floor of 47 Yong Fu Road (永富路47号2楼). Bocado just opened about 7 months ago and now has live flamenco guitar music every Wednesday night. I highly recommend you go on a Wednesday because the music was amazing. The guitarist played “La Camisa Negra” by Juanes and won 500 million points for that. Seriously, you can never have too much Juanes in your life. I met Bocado’s owner, Charles Cabell, and brand-new manager, Pablo. Charlie and Pablo were incredibly nice and sent me complimentary appetizers after I shared my MOO blog business card with them (the perks of being an eater extraordinaire).
We started the night with glasses of their red sangria and I was very happy to see that Bocado does not skimp on the fruit or flavor in their sangria. For appetizers, we had the morcilla a la parrilla (blood sausage), croquetas de setas (mushroom and truffle croquettes), pulpo a la gallega (octopus), and jamon iberico (Iberian ham). My favorite was definitely the octopus. It was served on top of thin slices of potatoes and topped with paprika and sea salt. The octopus was tender, not rubbery. The little bursts of sea salt really balanced out the flavor of the dish and I kept reaching for a second, and then a third, and then a fourth helping. The blood sausage was also really good and I liked how there was a slight crispiness to it because they barbecued it and then served it on top of a bed of bell peppers. While the mushroom croquettes were tasty, they weren’t anything extraordinary. I liked the Iberian ham though, which is imported from Spain, and cut in thicker slices than what I’ve seen in the U.S.
Bocado has four different types of paella and we settled on the paella de marisco, which came with prawns, fish and mussels. The paella was beautiful with plenty of seafood and surrounded by paper thin lemon slices. As beautiful as the presentation was, it wasn’t my favorite paella of all time. While the rice was cooked well, I actually thought that the paella was a little bit “fishy” tasting and that the seafood wasn’t super fresh. This I blame more on the fact that we’re in China. I think it’s difficult to get really fresh mussels in this country. Perhaps, this is just my American tastebuds talking though. Vanessa loved the paella and had no issues with it. I also missed the socarrat, the seductive caramelization of the bottom layer of the paella that is slightly crispy. I may not be a fair judge though because when I asked Pablo about the socarrat, he explained that not all paellas have it. I have never been to Spain; Pablo is from Spain. He is probably the better authority on authentic paella. As far as paellas go, this is probably the best paella that you will find in Shanghai (maybe even China) and I would definitely consider trying one of Bocado’s other paellas.
Despite eating a mountain of food (and drinking a small river of sangria), there’s always room in my stomach for dessert. I was really intrigued by the arroz con leche– rice simmered with milk, cinnamon, orange zest and vanilla. It sounded like horchata in pudding form and I had to try it. I liked that the dessert was actually really light and refreshing. It was topped with small cubes of peach, which makes it the perfect treat for summer. I would totally order it again. Hopefully, next time I’ll have more room in my stomach to eat more than four bites (so.much.food).
I loved Bocado. The atmosphere was inviting with dim lights, dark wood and a beautiful bar. I would totally go back to grab drinks and/or dinner with friends again. Plus, you really can’t beat the hospitality that Charlie and Pablo showed us. After I told Pablo that I’ll be studying in Paris this fall, he introduced me to another customer, the blogger for My Red Kitchen. She’s a Parisian with her own cooking blog! She’ll be going back to Paris in a couple of months and offered to meet up with me in the City of Light!
A delicious meal, wonderful conversation with a close friend, free-flowing drinks, new friends and a new connection in Paris. I call that a perfect night.
*name has been changed to protect friend’s privacy