Shanghai white collars love a good lunch set deal. Our resistance to home cooking has taken over to an extent where almost every restaurant in densely expat populated areas offers one.
Having worked in Jing’an for almost 3 years now, I can pretty much say that if there’s a lunch deal, I’ve probably been there, tested and tasted several items on the menu. With the saddening disappearance of more than a few of them (RIP Le Petit Canard, I will always love you!), it’s good to keep informed on what’s good.
THE CHEAP-O’ DEALS
Barbarian opened back in late August, substituting the unfortunate and now defunct Salotto G. The venue is massive, with plenty of seats and a quiet, hidden rooftop terrace that is perfect for big groups during the warmer months.
The lunch deal: RMB 58 gets you a main dish and a side. I usually order the ginger chicken or grilled veggies with greek salad or fries. Add RMB 10 for a soft drink. While lunch time is usually pretty quiet, it can get messy and crowded in the evening, especially on Friday night.
Address: Shanghai – 1019 Wuding Lu, near Jiaozhou Lu, 武定路1019号, 近胶州路
Hanguo Chufang Express
Hanguo Chufang is a fairly hidden place on Jiaozhou Lu. A Tiny little door opens to what looks like a small restaurant, but they have two more floors that can accommodate each around 20 people.
For the lunch deal, they have a great Bibimbap set which comes with a daily soup, kimchi and a side dish. Their Bibimbaps go from RMB 38 for a simple kimchi one, to RMB 88 for a sirloin steak one. Other dishes on the menu include korean stews and soups, seafood pancakes, BBQ meats and more delicious specialties.
Address: Shanghai – 210 Jiaozhou Lu, 1-3/F, near Xinzha Lu 胶州路210号1-3楼, 近新闸路
California Rolls is Japanese inspired and attracts the hordes of very hungry workers that are looking for quantity.
The lunch deal: Their bento lunch sets start at RMB 45 and include a bunch of sides: steamed egg, miso soup, pickles, salad and a bite of dessert/fruit. For main, you can choose among a large selection of dishes, including a tasty Curry Fried Cutlet a few sushi options and ramen.
Address: 1073 Wuding Lu, near Jiaozhou Lu, 武定路1073号，近胶州路
Fat Cow on Yanpin Lu is 100% winning at the Lunch Set game, as shows the hordes of customers during lunch hours. An informal diner setting, their service is mostly fast and reliable.
The lunch set starts at RMB 58 for a regular cheeseburger with fries and a soft drink, which is a pretty good value/money ratio. I usually choose their more expensive burger… ’cause bacon. Upgrade to a boozy lunch with + RMB 20 for frozen margaritas. And don’t forget they have one of the best desserts in Shanghai!
Address: 135 Yanping Lu, 1/F, Room 103, near Wuding Lu, 延平路135号103室, 近武定路
The guys have been famous for their pop-up stalls at several events around town. They finally decided to go brick and mortar with their first shop on the ground floor of co-working space Fitspace which has now moved to a new location, always in Jing’an.
Papito pancakes is a casual joint for a quick carb fix. Their selected menu offers savory and sweet crêpes, including classics like ham & cheese, nutella and banana and such. Their special ham, cheese and grilled paprika goes for RMB 45 and, from 12:00pm to 2:00pm the price includes a delicious fresh juice. Great deal for a filling meal.
Address: 317 Changping Lu, No 8, near Jiangning Lu, 昌平路317-8号, 近江宁路
THE EXECUTIVE DEALS
[This venue has since closed] Tribeca’s French bistro atmosphere is refreshing if you’re having a tough day and want to spoil yourself with a long lunch break. They have a nice patio where you can sit and enjoy the good weather. The service can be slow at times, so make sure you’re not in a rush when you visit.
The deal: lunch sets start at RMB 88, including a drink, a starter and a main. It’s a lot of food, and it’s tasty. I usually get either the burger, the tartines or the cobb salad. All of them come in a big satisfying portion. My favorite starter at the moment is their hummus and veggie stick platter, practically a meal on its own. They have also more expensive options with salmon or beer fillet.
Address: 966 Wuding Lu, near Jiaozhou Lu, 武定路966号, 近胶州路
Malabar is probably one of my favorite options for lunch (and after-work drinks!) in Jing’an. Get there early or late as the 12:30-1:30pm slot is usually crowded and you may struggle to find a seat. The service is surprisingly fast.
The deal: Malabar’s lunch set includes a soup or salad, a soft drink and a main. Different main dishes have different prices. My all time favorites are the fried wagyu alla Milanese (RMB 88) and the huevos rotos with Jamon Iberico and potatoes (RMB 78).
Address: 1081 Wuding Lu, near Jiaozhou Lu , 武定路1081号, 近胶州路
I’ve been a long time aficionado of MUST Grill, especially for their burgers (best in Shanghai, as I’ve been saying for 2.5 years!) and laid back atmosphere. During the good weather months especially, they have a great patio that faces a quiet square where no cars and loud noises breach in.
The deal: they have different price ranges, I usually go for the RMB 88 option which includes a choice of three different burgers (I usually opt for the classic MUST burger), a roasted spring chicken and a Nicoise salad. The main comes with a drink and a a starter (the Mavilla Terrine and the Caesar Salad are great!)
Address: 881 Wuding Lu, Bldg 2, 1/F, near Changde Lu, 武定路881号2号楼1楼, 近常德路
KA Cho-Fu Getu
This Japanese restaurant is perfect for business meetings as each table has a separate room in traditional Japanese style. Beware – they close the WHOLE venue at 2:00pm, so make sure to arrive around 1:00pm latest not to be rushed out of the restaurant.
The set menu includes a salad, soup, steamed egg and Japanese pickles plus your choice of main. There’s a large list to choose from for your main dish and it starts at ~ RMB 70 all the way up to ~ RMB 250 for sashimi platters. If you have a big appetite and a smaller wallet, your best option is the Udon Soup with Wagyu Beef at RMB 85.
Address: 555 Wuding Lu, near Shaanxi Bei Lu, 武定路555号, 近陕西北路
So there you have my recommended list of lunch deals. What other lunch sets do you recommend in Jing’an area? Let me know in the comments!