This petite eatery offers a box of honest and simple Korean food with a smile. Huanguo Chufang Express's compact location coincides with the growth of the express-food scene in Shanghai.
It’s a scene which elsewhere in the world might be expressed as a concentration of food trucks. With Shanghai’s size and predisposition to the traditional food cart infestation, it has instead taken root in some curious venues such as this tiny space on Fuxing Lu.
Hanguo Chufang Express is one-part imported Korean snacks, two-parts Americana with the rest an open kitchen where the upbeat owners box up their offerings. Catering predominantly to the lunch crowd, their menu is a collection of painfully cute set options of takeaway-boxed main dishes and little pots of traditional "banchan" -- side dishes such as kimchi, cubed radish and black soybeans.
Our stewed beef bibimbap (RMB42) was a light, considered version of modern Korean cuisine. Tender mouthfuls of seasoned beef atop stewed vegetables and perfectly cooked rice wriggle around in the raw egg and chilli paste, becoming composed mouthfuls of flavor. A similar and slightly spicier story follows with the kimchi and pork rice set (RMB48).
We almost expected to find an inspirational message tucked inside the packet of died seaweed. Hanguo Chufang Express feels like the packed lunch a loving parent would prepare. As they waved us off in unison, we had a warm feeling inside.