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With a foundation of mostly mediocre restaurants, the Cool Docks looked set to be Shanghai’s next full-time flop. Rico Rico, however, does its best to make the South Bund a realistic gastronomic destination.

After passing the wet sandcastle that is Rico Rico beach, our expectations of its sister venue were far from lofty. Get through the door, however, and there’s a clearly different vibe. Tastefully vintage-meets-warehouse themed, the restaurant doubles as a bar and budding salsa venue most evenings. Upstairs, and quaintly served wedged in a novel, is the menu, a pan-Latin read from a Spanish-Mexican chef. Expect empanadas, gambas and a couple dishes with some Asian influence.

Served atop a custom-cast section of terracotta, the “piruleta” croquettes (RMB35) set the tone, each with a surprising yet naturally apt filling that includes pumpkin and sweet potato. Also well composed is the shaved calamari salad (RMB60). Balanced against pico de gallo, it delivers each one’s identity without compromise.

The dozen or so mains put Rico Rico in the big league. From the aired potato accompanying the superbly tender pig cheeks (RMB168) to the seabass skin with the roasted seabass and sweet potato puree (RMB135), there’s an attention to preparation often lacking in “upper echelon” restaurants. The price tag does concur though, and each dish would benefit from a selection of sides.

A brave trio of cinnamon bread, rice pudding and spicy chocolate ice cream (RMB55) has enough of a love-it-or-hate-it appeal to pass. A safer finale is the very long Spanish Moscow Mule (RMB60) enjoyed at the downstairs bar or on the outside terrace.

  • Rico Rico
  • 021 3330-0977

  • Rm. 114, 601 Waima Lu [map]
  • 上海市外马路601号114室

  • Latam
  • ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
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