Shanghai Bar Review: Nomad

By Sophie Steiner, September 9, 2019

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With its eclectic mix of venues, Found 158 has always felt like a modern-day World’s Fair fishbowl. With eccentric Bedouin- and Mongolian-influenced tribal vibes and underrepresented Middle Eastern fare, Nomad fits right in among its neighbors – a French bistro, Indian fine dining slash nightclub, purveyors of Vietnamese street food and more.

Nomad is a casual, hostel-like hangout thanks to natural tones mingling with eccentric Arabic decor from the BIBIMI Group (who also own Bites & BrewsBarbarian, and Hot Chick). The expansive drink list featuring wine, beer and DIY experimental cocktails curated by Sasha Bondi complement Todd Losacco’s Levantine food options nicely.

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

If the opportunity to unleash your inner bartender by fashioning a drink to your personal preferences sounds exciting, skip to the last page of the tome-sized menu to find a coordinate plane you likely haven’t seen since middle school algebra. With an x-axis based on mood and a y-axis based on energy level, you can select an alcoholic beverage to match your current temperament. If Albert Einstein and Charlie Sheen put their heads together, this four-quadrant inebriation chart would be the result.

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The first input to this mathematical equation is the choice of alcohol. With a comprehensive selection of 30 liquors and spirits spanning from Chilean pisco to Korean soju, Nomad truly covers all of its global bases.   The second decision is in regards to taste, with options ranging from sweet to sour, from salty to bitter and from smoky to spicy. To complete the formula, indicate your current mood. How does edgy, chill, grumpy or joyful translate to the flavor profile of a cocktail? We were eager to find out.

Coming directly from a stressful end-of-day meeting, ordering a Mina Real Mezcal-Spicy-Pissed Off (RMB75) seemed like an appropriate fit to start. With a salted rim enhancing the spirit’s natural smokiness, this drink shines due to a well-executed balance of sweet and spice.

Armed with this success, we dove further into the complicated world of mixology. A kitschy garnish and shockingly neon blue color made our Beefeater Gin-Sour-Edgy (RMB65) order stand out much more than the drink’s overly sweetened lemon-forward tang. 

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Images by Sophie Steiner/That's

Similarly, the garishly teal Hi Tequila-Spicy-Grumpy (RMB65) failed to reach the heights of our first cocktail. Instead, it took on the flavor of the watered-down final sip of a basil drop.

With each drink ordered, the saccharine base became more pronounced. While it’s fun to personalize beverages, we recommend doing that once, then moving on to tried and true options like an Aperol spritz or mojito to go with food fit for a ‘barbarian.’ The Moroccan Cigars (RMB48) stand out as crispy filo-wrapped layers surrounding juicy beef kofta. Paired with pickled vegetables and spicy harissa dipping sauce, I finally found myself appreciating the extra sugar in the round of cocktails we had ordered.

Similarly, the Smoked Beef Tartare (RMB48) is like a meat-lovers version of creamy baba ganoush, seasoned with zesty sumac, smoked eggplant and pine nuts.

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Hummus with Falafel and Soft Boiled Egg (RMB48) scooped with warm, chewy Saj bread is another pocket-friendly appetizer that we’d order any day.

All in all, Nomad is a good addition to the Found 158 neighborhood. The seemingly infinite number of cocktail permutations can be intriguing, but keep that urge in check. After sampling nine of the DIY libations, the only mathematical fact that is certain is the 100% chance of a hangover. Keep it simple and order lots of food for optimal drinking pleasure.

[Cover image courtesy by Sophie Steiner/That's]


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