China's First Red Lobster Is Open in Shanghai Now

By Cristina Ng, December 27, 2018

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American seafood chain, Red Lobster is now open in Shanghai's ifc Mall joining other big players such as PF Chang's and Stone Brewing Tap Room – who both also arrived in 2018. 

Part of the FWM Restaurants group, Red Lobster joins a family of brands that includes other Shanghai-based restaurants Morton's, The Butcher's Club and Bistro by Yannick Alleno

Back in September, we reported that seafood-forward American casual dining chain was planning their first China location in Pudong's ifc Mall. While they hadn't formally announced an opening date, we expected it to be early next year. As it turns out, they received all their licenses on December 20, 2018, and fast-tracked the grand opening. They officially went into operation on December 21, 2018, and we couldn't help sneaking in for a lobster-heavy lunch feast. 

While Shanghai's Red Lobster (the company's 751st location), definitely reminds this American of the restaurants back home, they took this opportunity to upgrade and modernize the design. A subtle seaside vibe is given via a classic nautical palette and white shiplap walls. 

Image by Cristina Ng/That's

They made the usual concessions to the local palate such as reducing salt in the Facebook-famous, bread-basket staple Cheddar Bay Biscuits. Normally, we like our food salty, but in this instance, we think they made the right decision. They opted to put less salt in the buttery topping while the flaky, tender biscuit dough recipe is untouched. Did we mention they are free with every order? 

Image by Cristina Ng/That's 

As Chinese diners prefer sharing a selection of food, they added a Cold Seafood Platter (RMB258) featuring chilled lobster tail, snow crab, oysters and shrimp. Sourced from North America or France (in the case of the oysters), the seafood is very good quality. Choose from cocktail sauce and horseradish for dipping. 

Image by Cristina Ng/That's 

We don't often see iceberg wedges in China, and the Red Lobster Salad (RMB128) is jazzed up with lobster (natch) meat, prosciutto, avocado, hard boiled egg, diced tomato and Thousand Island dressing. The fresh, lively salad is so very American. 

Image courtesy Red Lobster

It wouldn't be Red Lobster without the Ultimate Feast (RMB298), so we ate another deliciously sweet North American Lobster tail and more wild-caught crab legs with the addition of garlic shrimp scampi and crispy fried shrimp. Accouterments include cocktail sauce and hot drawn butter. 

Image by Cristina Ng/That's 

Another nice sharing dish is the New England Bake (RMB238): a big hearty pot of lobster tails, shrimp, mussels, corn and potatoes in a garlic white wine broth. This number should prove to be popular this winter. 

True to name, there's lobster everywhere, even on the Steamed Asparagus Topped with Lobster Meat (RMB88) side dish, but there's no beating the Live Main Lobster (RMB298/450g, RMB588/900g, RMB888/1.3kg)

Image by Cristina Ng/That's 

Image by Cristina Ng/That's 

After you choose it from the big tank, it is steamed then broken apart tableside for easy eating. You might still want to pop on the bib though. While the sweet, briny crustacean flesh dipped in butter is amazing, the best part of this dish is a small bowl of tomalley (small intestine, pancreas and liver) and brains. It probably wouldn't work in the States, but Asian diners will love this rich, creamy dose of concentrated lobster, as do we. 

A generous portion (850g to be exact) of Oven Roasted Icelandic Halibut (RMB238) is cooked perfectly resulting in crisp skin and moist, flakes of fish. 

Missing dense, rich American-style chocolate cakes? The Chocolate Tidal Wave (RMB68) will satisfy those cravings.

Image by Cristina Ng/That's 

If you are a fan of Red Lobster, you'll definitely like the Shanghai one. Any changes made, are ones we can get behind. Emphasizing freshness and quality is the right move, given Shanghai diners have extremely high standards in those areas. As for price, the average spend is around RMB260 per person, if sharing,  but you can get that down to RMB150 if you forgo live lobster. For a real deal, try out the set lunch – available on the weekdays (excluding holidays) – from RMB78 including soup, salad, biscuits, main and soft drink. 

[Cover image courtesy Red Lobster]

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