Shanghai Bar Review: 521/SH

By Luis Campos, January 3, 2020

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Located in Putuo district, 521/SH is tucked between nondescript buildings and a residential area (if you can see the beautiful riverwalk, you have gone too far!) Once you do find it, the bar’s unassuming exterior might underwhelm – there are no gimmicks to get you in the door.

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Image courtesy of 521/SH

Inside, though modest in its decor, the bar’s overall presentation is simple and chic. Lit up cinder blocks line the walls of the establishment, while a cascade of lightbulbs hanging from the ceiling creates a warm and inviting atmosphere. Not a large venue (reservations in advance may be necessary to seat a larger party), 521/SH is a cozy spot to settle down for a drink or two.

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Images courtesy of 521/SH 

We recommend the Godfather (RMB78) as a first drink – this Scotch whiskey and amaretto blend provides enough oomph to get the night started. If you are feeling less adventurous, classics like the Cosmopolitan (RMB68) and Tequila Sunrise (RMB68) are also available.

Wine is also on the menu. We were drawn to the Las Condes Chardonnay (RMB55), which is respectable for its price and pairs well with the Seafood Pasta (RMB78). The pasta’s varied assortment of aquatic treats was overshadowed by the dish's thick homemade noodles. After trying a few other food options, we recommend making this a post-dinner drinks spot. If you do get hungry, the Croquetas (RMB38) are a tasty adult version of fried cheese sticks. You could also nibble on Marinated Olives (RMB38).

Overall, from its decor to its menu, 521/SH presents itself as an establishment for a more refined crowd. It is difficult to find anyone wearing t-shirts and jeans, but perhaps it is even more difficult to find anyone born before 1990 – not that this is necessarily a bad thing.

While many bars around town cater to a younger demographic, the vibe here is more suited to professionals out for post-work drinks than recent grads hoping to pound cheap beers. Fridays are a good night to stop by. If you’re lucky, live musicians will be playing throwback hits of the ’80s and ’90s.

[Cover image courtesy of 521/SH]


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