Originally scheduled to open at the end of 2016, the delay to the opening of the entire Found 158 complex might be a blessing in disguise for places like Hooked, where the outdoor seating portion of the restaurant is part of its charm. Opening in Shanghai’s warmer days is the only way for diners to realize its full potential. With its sliding doors wide open, natural light rushes into the room and gives it an even brighter, airier feel.
From its surfboard signage, Maui-inspired floral baby blue and white color scheme and wooden communal tables and benches, Hooked gives the impression that it belongs on a beach next to the ocean, and its seafood-centric menu reinforces the summery vibes.
Featuring the ultimate British comfort food fish and chips, the ever-so-trendy poke bowls and every bro’s favorite drink – craft beer – it’s hard to imagine that Hooked won’t be a hit.
Diving right into the main affair, the signature fish and chips are a must. Our battered Icelandic cod (RMB108) was hot and crispy on the outside and juicy in the middle. Add a liberal splash of malt vinegar; order a side of minted smashed peas (RMB12) and you’ll speak with a perfect British accent for the rest of the day.
Another heavy hitter is the soft-shelled crab burger (RMB108) with pickled red onion, iceberg lettuce and a sweet chili, dill and caper sauce. Like the fish and chips, the protein is under-seasoned, but adding too much sauce would make the crispy crab soggy. Oh, dilemma.
After the first bite of the wasabi tuna poke bowl (RMB78), we’re convinced that the lack of seasoning might be a recurring theme. Expecting a strong dose of wasabi punctuating the beautiful flavors and textures of the diced raw tuna, nori, nuts, and other usual suspects in the dish, all we ended up tasting was a very faint whisper of Japanese horseradish amidst a very mayo-heavy sauce.
If that isn’t enough fried food for you, the extremely satisfying deep-fried Mars Bar with vanilla ice cream (RMB40) has your name written on it (and will likely change your British accent to Glaswegian after consumption.) After all, who doesn't love a big scoop of warm, gooey and crispy chocolate dessert at the end of the meal? Deep-fried Snickers Bars are also an option for those who smite tradition.
Food Verdict: 1.5/3
The Camel Group has already launched a string of successful F&B concepts over the years. Everything from D.O.C, El Luchador, Bull and Claw to its eponymous sports bar have struck a chord with the masses. Hooked will be no exception. If the Camel Group is a singer, it would be someone like Jason Mraz or Ed Sheeran, churning out albums/singles (concepts) that are easy to digest and safe enough that you wouldn’t mind looping (returning) time and again for different occasions.
Vibe Verdict: 1.5/2
Total Verdict: 3/5
Price: RMB200-250 per person
Who’s going: Yongkang Lu refugees
Good for: seafood lovers, fried food-inclined, beer
See a listing for Hooked
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