Having had a week of Chinese food, it was a welcome change to be taken to a Western restaurant by a couple of my Shanghai-resident mates last night. Fondly referred to from now on as ‘the boys’. Their pick was Liquid Laundry, in the Xuhui district, former French concession area.
Dubbed as a gastropub, it really wasn’t by UK standards, but was actually more like a New York diner or just general hipster restaurant (think industrial chic, open plan warehouse style, neon signs, and waiting staff in skinny jeans, braces and bow ties). It’s a cool space with a cool menu to match; craft beers, cocktails and a variety of food options ranging from ‘let’s get the party started’ sharing plates, charcuterie, whole or half chickens from their own rotisserie, or pizzas from their own pizza oven.
I started with a G&Tea (an interesting mix of earl grey tea infused gin, tonic and spices) whilst the boys sampled some craft beers. After toying with the idea of getting a whole chicken with a side of mac and cheese, we decided instead to go wild on the starter or sharing plates options, to really ‘get the party started’ as they all sounded so good. So bear with me, there are a few dishes to describe here.
First to come out was the corn bread. Slightly dry if there’s any criticism to be made, but
with chunks of salty smoky bacon, and served with thick sweet and sticky maple butter, it was naughty but very nice.
Next was the soft shell crab, with smashed avocado, chilli and shaved fennel. My personal favourite, hot and crunchy yet soft crab, and the flavours were a winning combo.
In quick succession came the pastrami sliders, duck nuggets and seared yellowfin tuna. Oh and the kale and avocado salad, because despite the boys’ protestations I wanted something green and healthy.
The pastrami sliders were amazing. Soft fluffy little rolls, packed to the brim with salty, savoury pastrami, slight pickle and sharp flavor coming from the vegetable garnishes and tangy yellow mustard. The duck nuggets were my least favourite, essentially shredded duck rillettes, packed solidly together and deep fried into quite heavy crunchy balls, alongside a fruity jam and pickles. I tried one then left the rest to the boys, who loved them even if they ‘felt a bit dirty whilst eating them’. The seared tuna was beautiful, not only in presentation but in taste. Light and fresh and citrusy with a little heat from green chilli. The kale salad wasn’t particularly interesting but served the purpose of adding a little freshness and vitamins to the proceedings.
We washed this all down with a lovely bottle of NZ chardonnay. By this point we’d really got the party started as the menu had promised, and promptly headed to another bar to drink margaritas and beer. Ah the boys. Lads.
Liquid Laundry, Kwah Centre 2/F, 1028 Huaihai Middle Road (near Donghu Road) Xuhui District, SHANGHAI.