wechat sharing

The One Thing Shanghai's Dining Scene Is Missing

Recently I have found myself craving hamburgers. And not just any ol’ burger. Heck, I make a burger at the restaurant during brunch. Think it’s pretty tasty too, but it doesn’t seem to hit the proverbial “spot.” These days I’m looking for something compact, garnished simply and juicy without being greasy, ideally coupled with a soft potato roll just big enough to hold it together, and, oh yeah, I want it to be under RMB35. I know that those are a lot of requests, pretty specific too. Some say I ask for too much, that I’d have better luck getting that unicorn I asked for 25 years ago. (Yes, I wanted a unicorn. In my defense, I was 8 and had just watched Legend for the first time. But I digress.) What I’m saying is that there is a very specific term for what I am looking for: I like to call it moderately fast food. What is available?
We have [Gourmet Café](http://www.cityweekend.com.cn/shanghai/listings/dining/american/has/shanghai-centre/) and we have [Bistro Burger](http://www.cityweekend.com.cn/shanghai/listings/dining/american/has/bistro-burger/), both delicious in their own right. But as their names suggest, they’re highbrow incarnations of the great American staple and are generally in the RMB60-plus price range. Go any further down the scale and you’re pretty much left with the fast food giants. I, like many others, consider [Carl’s Jr.](http://www.cityweekend.com.cn/shanghai/listings/dining/american/has/carls-jr/) the best of the bunch, but it’s still fast food: frozen, industrialized, mass marketed fast food. Inspired by the likes of [In-n-Out](http://www.cityweekend.com.cn/shanghai/articles/blogs-shanghai/cw-radar/myth-busted-n-out-burger-coming-shanghai/) on the west coast and Shake Shack in New York, I firmly believe that we can have the best of both worlds—burgers that are affordable and wholesomely delicious. It’s simply a matter of effort. Some out there are working at it, and I salute them. That’s right, [Munchies](http://www.cityweekend.com.cn/shanghai/listings/dining/american/has/munchies/), I’m looking at you. The Mid-priced Dining Scene
But this lapse in judgment isn’t limited to hamburgers. There appears to be a huge gaping hole in the market where mid-to-low priced Western food is concerned. There’s a ton of cheap outlets doling out their watered down versions of hot dogs, spaghetti carbonara, fried chicken and other what-nots, plus a few luxe versions, but very little in between. The Future
I like to imagine this is changing. Shanghai’s culinary market is beginning to mature and I am really excited to see a spectrum of small enterprising restaurants and delivery services popping up, all selling on the tenets of quality food and affordable prices. Both [Taco Mama’s](http://www.cityweekend.com.cn/shanghai/listings/dining/mexican/has/taco-mamas/) and [Nosh](http://www.cityweekend.com.cn/shanghai/listings/dining/delivery/has/nosh-delivery/) get my seal of approval for their service, quality and price point. It’s not quite Western, but [Urban Thai](http://www.cityweekend.com.cn/shanghai/listings/dining/thai/has/urban-thai/) also gets praise for its amazing quality-to-price ratio. In a nutshell, the days where I pay RMB50 for eight obviously frozen chicken tenders appear to be ending, and that ain’t a bad thing. We may not be getting In-n-Out [like we hoped](http://www.cityweekend.com.cn/shanghai/articles/blogs-shanghai/cw-radar/myth-busted-n-out-burger-coming-shanghai/), but the future still looks bright. ------------------------ When Austin Hu isn't busy writing City Weekend's [The Dish blog](http://www.cityweekend.com.cn/shanghai/articles/blogs-shanghai/shanghai-the-dish-new/), he runs things over at [Madison](http://www.cityweekend.com.cn/shanghai/listings/dining/american/has/madison/). 


YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

dishhead 2

By: Austinhu -

The Dish: 2015 Dining Review
Like a chubby phoenix festooned with parmesan streamers, Gastrodamus rises once again to pass completely unsubstantiated judgment on this year’s dining happenings. After 4 years, the bacon lining...
Read More
20141211 00640

By: Austinhu -

The Dish: Gift of Giving
For your average citizen, the coming weeks are a time of celebration. Gifts are exchanged, vacations are planned and you can sing along to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas” without...
Read More
450478500 0

By: Austinhu -

The Dish: Wishlist for 2016
With a new year come new beginnings and, in turn, new hopes for what the future may bring. Some are pipe dreams, relegated to late night musings and the occasional heartfelt prayer to the deities...
Read More
dishhead 2

By: Austinhu -

The Dish: 2015 Dining Review
Like a chubby phoenix festooned with parmesan streamers, Gastrodamus rises once again to pass completely unsubstantiated judgment on this year’s dining happenings. After 4 years, the bacon lining...
Read More

Comments

Comments

nickw

I couldn't agree more. However, it will never happen. Why would anyone be motivated to serve really 'good value' AND good quality food? They would be in it for the profit. And, expats here can be reasonably silly when spending their money. Just because something is called 'a salad' or 'a sandwich', (or pasta), the price rockets to 65 RMB +++(+++) And people pay it, without any consideration. 'I'm an expat, I must eat over-priced expat food' kind of subconsciousness. I thought about opening a hole in the wall place that just does: - the big shanghai meatballs you get at CNY dinners - hong shao rou + rice - lasagne - chilli con carne in VERY reasonably priced, big sized, take away packs. But I am far too lazy.
nguyent8's picture

nguyent8

So.... shanghai needs a White Castle?? Right??

narsfweasels

Hey, this was my idea... stop stealing my thoughts!
Download App Now
Select your device platform and get download started
Add & Promote an Event
Tell everybody what's going on. FREE.

You've reached the limit of allowed deals. For more information

Contact us

You've reached the limit of allowed housing listing. For more information

Contact us