Lunch & After is a café and restaurant on Beijing Xi Lu, offering a blend of domestic and Southeast Asian cuisine. Not long after ordering, our table had enough disparate dishes to cover a range of Chinese and Thai flavors.
Some of these were the results of the owners’ experimentations. A delicious plate of purple sweet potato (RMB42) stewed and reduced in a starch sauce with slivers of tender beef is reminiscent of the clean and hearty flavors of Yunnan. Similarly unique was a clear soup loaded with diced tofu and shrimp (RMB32), which had a simple and attractive quality.
Their signature hotpots are surprisingly no better than hundreds of others across town. Offered in beef, chicken or pork rib (RMB68), these bubbling pans of meat and vegetables with lashings of spice were quite predictable in flavor.
Though not perfect, a simple bowl of Thai green curry with chicken (RMB35) fared much better with the requisite coconut milk-induced creaminess, plenty of green pepper and just the right amount of kick. It provided the perfect opportunity to enjoy a bottle of beer -- their selection included a range of Belgian staples like Leffe and Duvel (from RMB30).
It will take a few bottles to get into the swing of the ambiance, as club classics blared throughout the meal. Paired with picnic bench tables and sparse decoration, the restaurant felt strangely disjointed.
This seems to be a familiar story in Shanghai. It involves a restless corporate-career couple following their passion for food but they’re stifled by focusing on the wrong areas and neglecting important details. Here’s to hoping the rest of the experience can be brought up to the level of those standout dishes.
- Lunch & After
- 1135 Beijing Xi Lu (near Shaanxi Bei Lu) [map]
- 北京西路1135号 (近陕西北路)
- ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆