Cinker Pictures has the one draw that’ll motivate us to go to the mall, and that’s the movies. They also have a dining room and bar, but most of the food is beyond comprehension.
Cinker is a Beijing-born concept that centers its business on its top-of-the-line private theater, screening a curated catalog of films from classics, avant-garde, and non-commercial titles, with the hopes of attracting professionals and institutions within the film and culture industry. Located in the newly opened Taikoo Hui mall, the Shanghai venue has a private cinema for 26 people.
The interiors, inspired by the “Space Age of the 70s and artistic decorations of the 40s”, doesn’t come off as cohesive as they’d have imagined. It feels like we’ve wandered onto a rejected space-type B-movie set piece.
The bar area is akin to a waiting room, and the dining room is sparse and cold—reflective surfaces, steel, that swatch of millennial pink, and random vintage imagery. It would be more appealing if they threw in some camp, like, have servers dressed in Back to the Future II attire.
Introduced as one of their signature dishes, the 8 Vegetables & Tuber Puree (RMB48) looks like space food from a squeezy bottle. Each ring may be a different color, but it’s all the same consistency with odd, muddled flavors that remind us of barbecue sauce and ketchup with a hint of earthiness. It’s not a soup, it’s not a spread, and it’s not distinct or enjoyable. It's made with vegetables that have been blitzed in a food processor. We don’t understand its place on the menu.
The Patatas Bravas (RMB38) fares better. It reportedly takes over a day to cook and prep—sitting in brine, then a slow boil, and finally into the fryer. In the end, it’s just cubed, fried potatoes with garlic puree. It’s difficult to mess up. It came highly recommended by our server and is lauded by the chef, making it sound like it is best that Cinker has to offer.
Burrata Di Bufala Campana (RMB108), served like a xiaolongbao with light vinegar and chives, is the most enjoyable of the bunch. Again, burrata is hard to fault.
One of the “Preview Bites”, the Wagyu Beef Short Rib (RMB88), served with piquillos and mint, sounds great on paper, but turns out to be two small, unimaginative bites that are simply not worth the price tag.
The Wagyu Carpaccio (RMB168) is unnecessarily blanketed in black truffle, manchego and chives. All you’ll taste is cheese.
The Suckling Pig (RMB268) main has that desirably crackly skin, and is sufficiently salted and juicy. However, the plating is sad—two cutlets alongside a stack of cured apple slices and mixed veg that don't add to the dish and appears to be an afterthought.
The lunch set is anything but “great value”: Two courses for RMB138, three for RMB188, four for RMB228. The snapper carpaccio (+RMB12) lacks a dash of seasalt.
The recommended lunch main, the baked bomba rice with squid and guanciale, also on the dinner menu, fades into mediocrity, and is also measly in portion—about three spoonfuls worth.
The food, like the space and concept, is stiff. The service is good, but no matter how you spin it, the dishes are simply not up to scratch. Some of the portions are unacceptable for the price, too. It was an unforgettable experience, but for all the wrong reasons.
Obviously, they’re still testing out the Shanghai market. Based on what we’ve seen, Beijing seems to do better with brunch items and seafood towers. The theater does look impressive, but that's about it.
Our Rating: 2/5 Stars
What: Cinker Pictures
Address: L379B, 3/F, Taikoo Hui, 789 Nanjing Xi Lu (near Shimen Yi Lu) 石门一路288号兴业太古汇3楼L379B (近石门一路)
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