One Meal to Rule Them All: Shanghai's Newest Brunches

By Sophie Steiner, July 23, 2021

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From snazzy hotel brunches with free flow booze aplenty to dim sum to steak and eggs, brunch is what Shanghai weekends are all about. Here are three of our favorite newly launched ones around town to help you over the hangover hump.

Smokehouse x The Camel

After being open in its new location for almost a year, The Camel opted for a massive menu revamp, teaming up with Matty Waters, owner and founder of Smoke KCQ, to launch The Smokehouse.

It’s regional agnostic American ‘slow and low’ BBQ (with a strong emphasis on Kansas City, Matty’s hometown) with all the grease-dripping, heart-clogging, finger-lickin’ good fixings that are best enjoyed in Daisy Duke cutoffs or overalls, shotgun in hand. 

After launching an impressive lunch and dinner menu, brunch in a similar vein was soon to follow – absolutely holding its own against any American South restaurant in the actual – well – American South.

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Our number one, tried and true, bring-me-back-here-every-damn-day is the Breakfast Sammy (RMB58), with the choice of a mini brioche bun or country-style biscuit. 

Go with the biscuit, trust us. Don’t ask questions, just go with that flaky, buttery, pillowy, textbook perfect biscuit that envelopes a fried egg, gooey cheese and meat of your choosing – breakfast sausage, smoked ham, bacon, brisket or pulled pork. Again, we are going to heavily, heavily suggest that breakfast sausage – a sweet hit of Canadian maple syrup mixed with the secret blend of spices makes for highly seasoned, ground meat patty. 

Served with deep-fried latkes (that’s Jewish for crispy hash brown perfection), this is a souped up trashy McDonalds-inspired biscuit breakfast sandwich, and there ain’t nothing wrong with that. Our only qualm: we want it offered on a late night menu, because nothing screams classy like scarfing down a greasy, stacked breakfast sando at 2am. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

More biscuits in all the forms, we demand! And Matty obliged with the Biscuits & Gravy (RMB58) – homemade country style biscuits smothered in a sausage gravy that’s thick enough re-cement the sidewalk with. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The Pulled Pork Tacos (RMB68) sees two white corn tortillas stuffed with a hefty portion of sweet pulled pork, black bean purée, cheddar, pico de gallo, Carolina vinegar sauce and topped with a runny egg and avocado cilantro crema – the egg makes it a breakfast thing, but again, these are crush-worthy at any hour of the day.

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Two monster-sized pieces of smoked then fried juicy AF chicken thighs – coated in a spicy honey maple glaze – are perched atop a dense buttermilk waffle and served with a side of maple syrup and bacon butter as the Smoked Fried Chicken & Waffles (RMB98). That extra step of smoking before frying adds a sultry, roasted aroma that balances perfectly with sticky syrup. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The Big Brisket Breakfast Burrito (RMB88) centers around fatty chunks of smoked brisket interspersed with white cheddar, scrambled eggs, charred potato cubes, black beans and pickled sweet jalapenos, drizzled with sour cream and pico de gallo salsa, all encased in a grilled tortilla wrap. We suggest slathering some of Matty’s secret recipe BBQ sauce on top and just blacking out until your plate is clean. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

On the burger/sando front, the Morning Smash (RMB78) is a hangover curing mound of a flattop griddled patty piled high with grilled onions, a shatteringly crisp hash brown fried in beef tallow, a runny fried egg, pickles, ketchup and mustard on a toasted Kaiser bun. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The menu will expand to include a few more items, plus add-ons – because who doesn’t want to order an extra egg, sausage link or hashbrown or two – plus some of the best free flow deals in the city.

For RMB198, you can go to town on any dish plus 11am-3pm freeflow of Carlsberg, House Wine, Bloody Mary and Sangria, or upgrade to RMB298 and add on Boxing Cat Contender, Stella, Prosecco, Aperol Spritz and the Smokehouse Bloody Mary – a super spicy, BBQ dry rub-rimmed glass of Bloody Mary perfection, topped with housemade sweet pickles and a crisp strip of bacon – like all Bloody Marys should be. 

See a listing for The Smokehouse x The Camel


Arguably one of the biggest openings of the year, chef Hardeep Somal’s Klay, a contemporary Indian restaurant serving small plates and highballs inspired by the many ingredients and spices that run through India’s underbelly, has been packed since day one. We finally snuck in a brunch seat and have remained full ever since. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Start off with the mile-high stacked Lamb Bhaji Sliders (RMB48), a mouthwateringly tender spiced lamb patty stacked with curry slaw, mint chutney and an onion bhaji – essentially the happiest marriage between a crisp, fried blooming onion and Indian aromatic spices.

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

We’ve all heard of Korean fried chicken, American South fried chicken, Indonesian ayam goreng and even Japanese karaage chicken, but the time has come for Keralan Fried Chicken (RMB98) to make its debut, this time with pickled shallots and curry mayonnaise. An ultra-crunchy breading gives way to tender, boneless meat, best enjoyed with a zippy curry slaw served on the side. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Not just for the vegetarians, the heavily spiced Spinach Tandoori Paneer (RMB78) sees a stewed spinach cream dotted with tikka spice-marinated firm paneer and hot fried red chilis. A cooling dribble of curd adds to the creamy richness. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

A cheeky combination of British meat pies and Indian lamb kebabs, the Masala Sausage Rolls (RMB58) bring together the flavors of house-made lamb sausage wrapped in flaky puff pastry, garnished with beetroot-pickled shallots and dots of mint chutney and curry aioli. 

Spicy Crab Curry (RMB118), Image by Sophie Steiner/That's 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Quite possibly the wildest fusion favorite – the Chicken Tikka Mac n Cheese (RMB78) – is an amalgamation of all things good in the world – extra gooey mac n cheese, a classic tikka curry sauce, and large chunks of tender chicken, all garnished with more cheese, tangy pineapple and watercress. Cultural appropriation has never tasted so good. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

A Mumbai street food favorite, the Keema Ghotala (RMB78) is India’s answer to the American sloppy joe. A spiced, stewed tomato chili of sorts soaks into a mixture of ground beef and peas, topped with thinly sliced onions and coriander. Scoop a spoonful atop a buttery, plush sweet bun, along with a runny fried egg, and try not to end up with a saucy shmear running from ear to ear across your beaming smile. 

Lobster Masala (RMB198), Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The pièce de résistance is the Bangladesh Fish Fry (RMB288), a monster-sized whole halibut, marinated in masala seasoning, pan-fried and then baked in the oven with butter and chilis. The spice-laden skin is full on flavor, giving way to delicate flesh below. Carved tableside to serve 2-3 people, each bite is enhanced with pickled shallots and an herbaceous mint and coriander chutney. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Fluffy Raji Pancakes (RMB68) are made with ragi flour, or finger millet powder, a high protein and high mineral content flour used in Indian cooking, topped with a pistachio crumble caramelized banana half, rice pudding ice cream, fresh raspberries and a strawberry jam.

Basmati Kheer Crème Brulee (RMB38), Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Dessert is clearly not an afterthought, with inventive recipe permutations that result in the conjoint Apple Crumble & Kulfi (RMB48). An apple crumble guaranteed to be better than your grandma makes is topped with a magnum ice cream that could put Magnum out of business.

India’s denser, creamier version of ice cream, kulfi, is coated in a hard milk chocolate shell, studded with pistachios and frozen into a bar that we would like to purchase by the box... or palette-sized shipping container. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Classic brunch cocktails, like Bloody Mary, Aperol Spritz and Espresso Martini go for just RMB60, while souped-up highballs and fancier signature cocktails featuring heat-blasted spice infusions range from RMB68-90.

See a listing for Klay

Grand Banks 

The NYC aesthetic lounge on Sichuan Zhong Lu, Grand Banks feels like walking into a Tribeca loft. Vintage revival pieces, original artwork, quirky room dividers, art deco sconces and cool-toned accents are heightened by a liberal dose of Manhattan chic. The soft lighting is muted, dim, sexy, adding to the aura of exclusivity – and making it an ideal indoor hangout during the heat waves of summer. 

The concept is to enhance the synergy between interior design, art, furniture and cuisine, creating a comforting yet lux space for young creatives that acts as an alternative to other overly-hyped Bund venues. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Aligning with the pan-Asian-meets-French cooking techniques noted throughout the dinner menu, brunch follows suit. Bitter arugula, mixed greens and fresh dill sprigs are lightly dressed with a sweet yuzu vinaigrette, dotted with alternating cubes of sous vide, smoked wagyu beef and fresh burrata as the Smoked Wagyu Salad (RMB88).

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Stuffed to the gills (pun intended), the Cod Fish Tongue Omelet (RMB128) is a fluffy Tamagoyaki-style egg roll with tender cod inside and crunchy crushed hazelnuts adorning the top, with roe-studded cream on the side.

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Two jiggly 62° poached eggs perch atop a cast-iron skillet filled with a stewed tomato chutney, interspersed with Bellota Iberico ham ribbons as the Shakshuka (RMB108). Dip a crusty baguette slice into the bursting egg yolk to understand this dish’s widespread popularity throughout the Middle East. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Velvet-like sea urchin adds an umami richness to the dense, velvety Kimchi Risotto (RMB168) porridge, further elevated by toasted nori shreds. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

On the sweeter end of the spectrum, a Cornmeal & Cinnamon Pancake (RMB68) arrives tableside with a scoop of duck yolk ice cream, interlaced with crispy candied yolk crumbles.  

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

A true highlight of the meal, the unabashedly sour Yuzu Tartlet (RMB78) is sweetened by a sugary sea buckthorn reduction, with the berries of this plant being tart, like a sour orange with hints of tropical mango. We suggest using the crunchy toasted meringue shards as scoops for lobbing dollops of creamy yuzu curd straight to the dome. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Equally expansive as the brunch food menu, brunch cocktails span the gamut, from the refreshing Silver Voice (RMB98) – featuring gin, fresh aloe juice, elderflower liqueur, grove 42, green apple and lime – to the Creamy Matcha (RMB98), a boldly strong combination of nutmilk orgeat, pisco, lillet blanc and earthy matcha. 

See a listing for Grand Banks 

[Cover image by Sophie Steiner/That's]

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