I’ve already talked about dinner at Liquid Laundry (1028 Huaihai Zhong Lu; 淮海中路1028号), but I think I discovered one of my favorite brunch spots. I’m not the only one who must share this opinion because it was nearly impossible to make brunch reservations.
I literally wanted to order everything on the menu, but my friend and I settled on green eggs and ham, a bacon flight and Korean fried chicken sandwich. My green eggs and ham was seed toast topped with poached eggs, avocado, ham, spinach, and Goddess dressing. I could not believe how big the portion was. The toast was a thick slice of bread with two perfectly poached eggs and a healthy dose of avocado. I really enjoyed the combination of everything on my plate and was happy to share it because I couldn’t even finish. Our bacon flight came with three flavors: sweet maple, spicy habanero and coffee cured. The bacon is delicious, but the spicy habanero is not for the faint of heart. It was SO spicy, but the type of spicy that creeps up on you and feels like is burning a hole in your mouth.
I loved this fried chicken sandwich. The bun was soft and fluffy, the chicken was crispy and moist, and the Sriracha aioli with coleslaw had the perfect kick. I think the best surprise was the fact that they add bits of ramen noodles for that extra crunch (seriously genius). I can’t wait to go back and eat that sandwich again. I appreciate that Liquid Laundry serves American-sized portions and it’s the perfect place to go with a group of friends so you can share a bunch of dishes.
Shanghai is finally starting to get a little bit warmer and it begs for catching up with friends over a nice cup of coffee. I’ve been on the hunt for new cafés and came across Cambio Coffee (861 Jiangning Lu; 江宁路861号). It’s a small place with a few indoor and outdoor seats.
I had a cappuccino and while it wasn’t life-changing, it was a solid cup of coffee. I liked that it was a little bit quieter than Sumerian, which is always packed on the weekends and rarely has free tables. The only downside to Cambio is that it’s not really close to any metro stops. While it’s a great place to grab a cup of coffee if you’re in the neighborhood, I don’t think I’d go out of my way just to get coffee there.
One of my friends recently asked me if I knew of any gluten-free restaurants in Shanghai. I had zero clue, but I suggested Hunter Gatherer (308 Anfu Rd; 安福路308号) as it had been on my radar as a healthy option. It didn’t feel right recommending a restaurant that I had never tried before so I decided to check it off my list.
Hunter Gatherer is a two-story hybrid grocery store/fast casual eatery. Throughout the store, you’ll find fresh organic veggies, artisanal sauces, healthy snacks and even a DIY peanut butter and almond butter machines. It’s really quite impressive and reminded me of Green & Safe in the French Concession. Besides the myriad of groceries, you can also sit down for a quick meal.
For 62 RMB, you can have a Chipotle-style, nourishing bowl. My understanding is that the menu rotates based on a seasonal produce, but you start with a base, add a protein and then pick two veggie sides. My plate had a quinoa and spinach base, oven-roasted chicken, brussels spouts and an apple & kale salad. For 20 RMB more, you can add a bowl of soup.
It’s not a huge portion so if you tend to eat more, I’d recommend getting a bowl of soup or saving room for one of their baked goods. The food is a solid meal for a fresh and healthy option. The chicken was very tender and actually moist and I ended up like the brussels sprouts best out of my assortment plate. It’s not terribly flavorful food, but they have a wide variety of different homemade sauces that you can use to liven up your bowl (their hot sauce definitely had some heat).
I like that there are more healthy options in Shanghai and hope the trend continues. While I was sitting there, I felt like I was in a hip grocery store in New York or San Francisco. I would definitely go back and happily recommend it to any friends who had dietary restrictions (or just plain wanted to eat healthy).
Last month, I had a business trip to Turin and Milan, Italy. While it was a jam-packed and busy trip, there was still plenty of time to enjoy the magnificent food in Italy. I’ll start with highlights from Milan.
One of my Italian colleagues is also a big foodie and he had recommended a couple of restaurants in Milan. He raved about Trattoria del Pescatore (Via Atto Vannucci, 5). I ended up eating there last minute and I kept calling in hopes of making a lunch reservation. Since they didn’t pick up the phone, I showed up right when they opened at 12:30pm (hence the photo of an empty restaurant). The restaurant owners and waiters were so kind to me and gave me a corner seat. I ordered the bottarga (salted cured roe) and clams spaghetti and Catalan-style lobster. The lobster is not for the faint of heart. It’s definitely a lot of work to eat. I rolled up my sleeves, used my lobster cracker and dug in with my fingers. While the lobster flesh was incredibly tasty, it was much smaller than I expected and expensive. I’d gladly go back and try other dishes. Reservations are an absolute must. The place was packed and they had to turn people away. I really enjoyed the atmosphere because the customers were all locals and a lot of them were regulars. It was really fun to watch the interaction of the staff with some of their most loyal customers.
Giulio Pane e Ojo (Via Ludovico Muratori, 10) was also recommended to me for their Roman-style food. It was a really quaint restaurant and extremely popular. I enjoyed a delicious bucatini with a slightly spicy tomato sauce with slices of pancetta and a beautiful medium-rare steak. I basically ate red meat every chance I could get since the steak in China is so expensive. Giulio Pane e Ojo must be written up in a lot of tourist reviews because the entire restaurant was foreigners. Next to me was a Russian couple, across from me was British couple and on the other side of the room was a table full of Americans. It didn’t quite have that same local Italian feel that Trattoria del Pescatore had.
I’ve written about Il Giardino de Segreti (Via Pasquale Sottocorno, 17) before, but I had to mention it again. It was the best meal I had in Milan and it was just as good as I remembered. It’s the best bottarga spaghetti I’ve ever had and the tagliata (rare meat) was amazing. The tagliata is very thinly sliced beef and they serve it rare. I made the mistake of ordering it medium rare. Since the plate it’s served on is very hot, the beef actually continues to cook after being served. So my medium rare became too well-done for my taste. It’s better to just let them serve it their classic house style.
I love sandwiches. It’s one of the things I miss most from the States. Recently, more and more sandwich shops have popped up in Shanghai. I felt it was my duty to try them and report back.
Co. Cheese Melt Bar (32 Yuyuan Dong Lu; 愚园东路32号) opened just a few months ago in Shanghai. It’s a small establishment with mostly counter seating and only a couple of high tables. You definitely can’t come here with a big group of people. While you can choose your own sandwich fixings, I’d recommend picking one of the twelve gourmet cheese melts.
There were too many choices to pick from so my friend and I decided to split three sandwiches between the two of us. We ordered: 1) Avocado, ham, pear, brie and arugula, 2) Double Glouchester cheese, mashed potato, cranberry sauce, turkey and stuffing, and 3) Kraft Mac & Cheese, cheddar and gouda. All sandwiches are served with a small serving of potato chips and homemade pickled goods. The avocado, ham, pear, brie and arugula sandwich felt like a fancy grilled cheese sandwich. I really enjoyed the combination and it was the “lightest” of the three.
The Thanksgiving dinner is an incredibly clever idea. It basically reminded me of the wonderful period of time after Thanksgiving when you basically eat Thanksgiving leftovers for a week. You can’t really go wrong with the combination of cheese, turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce. It’s definitely a filling sandwich.
I think my favorite was actually the Kraft Mac & Cheese sandwich. It tasted like my childhood in a sandwich. I really liked the creativity that the owner, Greg, had with all of his sandwich ideas. Next time, I would add avocado to the sandwich and order myself a bowl of Campbell’s tomato soup to dip that bad boy in. While the sandwiches were delicious, my only complaint was that the wait was really long. The place wasn’t even full and we definitely waited over 20 minutes for our food. I guess on the bright side, while you’re waiting for your food, you can hop over next door to CinnaSwirl and get yourself an amazing cinnamon roll.
The first time I ever had Xinjiang food was when I lived in Beijing. There was this hole in the wall restaurant close by my school that I used to go to every week. It was one of the things I missed most about living there. In Shanghai, I struggled to find good Xinjiang food. Probably the most famous restaurant is Xibo, but I wasn’t really a fan. The restaurant was modern and hip and I also thought overpriced. Luckily, a friend recommended Miss Ali 阿里家 (380-1 Dagu Lu; 大沽路380-1号) and I’m so glad she did. I’ve finally found Xinjiang food that rivals what I used to eat in Beijing.
Miss Ali is a small restaurant on Dagu Road that could easily be missed. I would definitely recommend making reservations because it’s a popular spot and space is limited. I was overjoyed to see that some of my favorite dishes were on the menu. I love 大盘鸡 (da pan ji), which literally translates to big plate of chicken. Miss Ali’s version was exactly how I remembered da pan ji in Beijing. Chunks of chicken, potatoes, bell peppers and onions are served in a dark broth with chili flakes and a hint of cinnamon. Clearly, the chicken and broth have been simmered to perfection because the chicken is tender and incredibly flavorful. Probably my favorite part of the dish are the noodles that come with it. The noodles are smooth and slippery, the perfect complement to the broth. I will forewarn that da pan ji comes with chicken with bones so it’s definitely a little bit of work to eat.
In addition to da pan ji, my friend and I ordered lamb skewers, green bean skewers and lamb wontons. The lamb skewers were large with delicious morsels of meat. In the middle of the skewer is a piece of fat, which renders nicely on the grilled meat. I normally find lamb too gamey, but the mixture of spices on the skewers covers any offensive smell.
I really loved the lamb wontons. It was actually my first time having lamb in a dumpling and Miss Ali’s version is wonderfully seasoned. They were served in a clear broth, which was soothing and tasted like something my mother would cook. It was the perfect dish on a cold day. It was so good that I was tempted to order another bowl.
My last recommendation would be to order the homemade yogurt. While it’s technically in the “dessert” section of the menu, I like to get my yogurt earlier with my meal. With the little bit of chili in Xinjiang food, the yogurt helps cuts any spice. Plus, it just tastes so darn good. I can’t wait to go back to Miss Ali soon. The food was warm and hearty and brought me back to my time in Beijing. It’s definitely going to be my new go-to restaurant to take any friends visiting from out of town.