Tapas restaurants are definitely popular destinations in Shanghai and I found two places that I really like. My friend Cher took me to Malabar (1081 Wuding Lu; 武定路1081号), which is on the popular and lively restaurant street, Wuding Road. We ordered croquetas, olives and grilled baby squid to start. The croquetas were a little too oily and I probably wouldn’t order them again. I did love the olives, which were meaty in texture, and the grilled baby squid. The calamaritos a la plancha “con su tinta” were cooked perfectly and the chimichurri sauce complemented it really well.
I was so excited to see ribeye steak from Uruguay on the menu and we happily ordered the 300g portion. This steak was served medium rare with an onion compote and roasted potatoes. For only 175 RMB, this dish is a total steal! The meat was tender and flavorful and I loved the onion compote. I saw that this one of my the most popular dishes in the restaurant with practically every table ordering one. Finally, Cher and I ended our meal with manchego cheese, which was a healthy portion of cheese and a tomato jam. Malabar is definitely a popular restaurant because the place filled up and people were waiting in line to get in. For the pricing and quality of food, I think it’s definitely a solid spot for tapas.
Tomatito (2/F, 99 Taixing Lu; 泰兴路99号2楼) is part of the famous El Willy Group and is the more casual restaurant compared to sister restaurants, El Elefante and El Willy. I’ve been to Tomatito twice and the place is always popping.
While Tomatito serves classic Spanish dishes, there are also a lot of unconventional items. In terms of dishes that I would recommend, I liked the albondigas. These meatballs are served in a casserole dish with potatoes and tomato sauce with some sliced bread. The “broken egg” dish is a fried egg served ripped up on top of potatoes, BBQ pork belly and chilis. It was an interesting combination and felt very hearty with the potatoes. However, I felt the nachos were less successful. These nachos were also topped with multiple fried eggs, but I felt it made it too difficult to eat. Nachos are meant to be eaten with my hands and not my knife and fork. My favorite dish of the night was definitely the calamari (non-fried), which was tender pieces of squid served with a garlic aioli and lemon juice. My second favorite dish were the steak “air baguettes,” which were crispy crackers topped with cheese spread and a slice of beef.
The second time I went to Tomatito, it was for Cher’s birthday and I brought a special ordered cookie cake from Pom Pom Cookies. I’ve written about my love of Pom Pom Cookies on my blog before, but this was my first time ordering one of her cookie cakes. I ordered a triple chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting. I cannot rave enough about how AMAZING this cake is. Each layer is a thick, chewy cookie, which makes this cake incredibly dense. Since the “cake layers” were heavier, I actually liked that the cream cheese frosting was on the lighter side. While it may look small, the cake can literally feed 20 people. There were 10 of us and we could only eat half. It is deceptively filling. If you’re interested in one of Pom Pom Cookies’ cakes, you can email her directly for flavors and pricing (email@example.com).