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Nestled in one of Shanghai’s most recently modernized lane complexes, Albaluz is a cute-yet-diluted Spanish restaurant. The last and smallest in a row of new venues gracing Hengshan Fang, its window arches and open kitchen lend a warm, inviting European feel.

A list of menu items and specials are scrawled on chalkboards flanking the entranceway. They’re a slight giveaway that Albaluz is pitching to the tourist/shopper crowds wafting through the area. This isn't to say that Albaluz should be regarded as less worthy.

Presented with a strong page of tapas options, we tested the waters with the classics. Ham croquettes (RMB56), garlic sautéed prawns (RMB92) and a Spanish omelette (RMB48) were all present in physical form yet delicate in taste. It was like eating with the volume notched down, when Spanish food is all about turning it all the way up.

Elsewhere the menu has more to offer in content and promise. A plate of succulent meatballs (RMB78) drenched in tomato sauce served over puffy white rice has a curiously delicate texture and moreish kick.

Likewise, an unconventional and playful use of polenta to support the sea bass (RMB98) in a bold pepper, olive and capers sauce demonstrates experienced hands in the kitchen, which is managed by chef Fernando Corona.

Despite patchy service and an inconsistent menu, our meal for two quickly approached RMB500 (excluding drinks). But as the most popular restaurant on the block, it says a lot about Albaluz’s appeal.

Anybody who lives in the area will admit despair at the lack of good dining options in one of Shanghai’s busiest neighborhoods. Now they just need to convert it into a meal worth going back for.

  • Albaluz
  • 021 5465-2587

  • Bldg 20, 320 Tianping Lu (near Zhaojiabang Lu) [map]
  • 天平路320弄20号(近肇嘉浜路)

  • Spanish
  • ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
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