Dianping Food Porn Strikes Again: Gimmicky Trickery at MicangPop

By Sophie Steiner, July 2, 2021

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This year, with over 7,000 active cafés, Shanghai towered over other major cities to earn its title as having the most coffee shops in the world. And with that comes a lot of cutesy spots serving up a cup of half-decent joe – some leagues better than others – and internet-famous favorites, most of which place a stronger emphasis on filtered photos rather than filtered coffee.

READ MORE: Shanghai Has More Coffee Shops Than Any Other City in the World

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While many of these shops remain a mystery to the ignorant, non-Dianping using contingency, for those of us that peruse Chinese-fueled food porn during the wee hours of the morning, the snapshots of overflowing mugs, cartoon character-topped glasses and calorific desserts are overwhelming. 

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As one that consistently pops up on the feed, MicangPop (米仓pop) is a Dianping power user’s wet dream. Cloud-like pancakes with assorted equally colorful and indulgent toppings, caffeinated beverages brimming with unexpected ingredients like roasted nuts, coconut and rice wine, and adorable animal-shaped edible delights fill the menu – and diners’ social media accounts. 

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But do all of these photogenic treats actually equate to something worth indulging in, or are visitors just paying for the snapshot? We put it to the flavor test and were simultaneously surprised and disappointed.

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

A Tiramisu Latte (RMB40) isn’t too hard to find these days – SMAKA has a somewhat lackluster alternative too – but this one is essentially half an actual tiramisu on top of a coffee. Really the only thing missing is the soaked lady finger base (and booze, if you’re addicted to the sauce) making it a sugar high in addition to a caffeine hit.

Layered to mimic an actual tiramisu, dark cocoa powder dusts a swirl of thick whipped cream that rests on iced dark roast coffee above a thin pour of whole milk. Mix everything together and you’re truly ending up with all the flavors of tiramisu. 

A strong start… that didn’t last long. 

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As the restaurant’s best-selling beverage, we had no choice but to order the Coffee Ice Latte (RMB38). A gimmicky version of a dirty coffee in reverse, espresso is frozen into ice cubes that – in theory – melt as you pour whole milk over them. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

In reality, you’re provided with a jug of milk (who at this age is drinking that much milk in one sitting?!) and you’re forced to wait while the coffee cubes dissipate to get your desired caffeine kick – making it nearly impossible to achieve the ultimate coffee-to-milk ratio unless you’ve got a lot of time to kill. 

Ain’t nobody got time – or patience – for that… except for the dozens of people sitting in the restaurant with an order of this latte in front of them. We don’t understand it, but the Dianping appeal is clearly there. Someone please explain. 

If you’re into wacky flavor-topped coffee beverages, they also have a 3D cat or Miyazki’s Totoro lattes as well as fruity tea drinks.

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Now that we'd consumed a week’s worth of sugar in drinks alone, might as well fall further down the sweet, sweet rabbit hole with the Frozen S’more (RMB38), a perverse form of this delicious – albeit trashy – camping delicacy. 

For those who didn’t grow up in Middle America, a s’more is the genius combination of campfire-roasted marshmallows squished against a melty square of Hershey’s chocolate, sandwiched between two honey graham crackers. It’s sticky; it’s messy; it’s a molten lava volcano of processed sugar, cocoa and crumbs that served as a hallmark tradition of camp-filled summers of a childhood past. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The Frozen S’more is in no way a s’more. It’s actually a disgrace to the sanctity of s’mores, and it pains us to even include it in the same category of dessert that we hold so dear to our hearts. A sticky marshmallow fluff entombs a coarse, oddly fruity-tasting vanilla ice cream that is more ice than cream. Drizzled with chocolate and topped with almond slivers, this sad excuse for a s’more is mysteriously missing one third of the three key ingredients – Graham. 

Total fail. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

A lot of sweet cream without lady fingers works in a drinkable tiramisu latte, but gets boring real fast when you’re expecting an actual tiramisu – one that, in the case of the Tiramisu Bear (RMB48), is pretty much all just cream. Although it’s one of the top-rated items on Dianping – most likely for the squishy bear face cake that sits on top – we suggest just buying said bear face cake on its own for RMB12 instead. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Ignoring the less-than-average tiramisu – to our dismay – the bear cake is lemon-flavored, like a moist lemon poppy seed muffin – sans poppy seed – with a chocolate frosting painted face. Has citrus every paired well with tiramisu? Nope. And it sure as sh*t doesn’t here. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The main food draw at MicangPop are the soufflé pancakes, that span the flavor gamut from banana, mochi with soybean powder or salted egg yolk with seaweed and pork floss to melon, mango or chocolate – a seriously weird mix of options.

Since we couldn’t satisfy our s’mores craving with the actual Frozen Smores, we opted for Walking on the Cloud Soufflé Pancakes (RMB68) – fluffy, whipped sweet cakes topped with melted marshmallow, served with a side of melted chocolate and ice cream. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Sounds delish, right? This is some freak show wizardry to take a bunch of yummy sounding parts, put them all together, and have it taste like a disaster. But we applaud you MicangPop, because you’ve somehow mastered this magical feat. 

Although definitely fluffy, the pancakes taste like sugary scrambled eggs – two ingredients that never belong together. The chocolate is bitter and the ice cream is…pineapple? Why? Just why?! All the makings of a s’more with zero delivery. We ate the marshmallows off and called it a day.

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

A slight comeback came in the form of a newer offering: the Rice Wine Latte (RMB38). This ombré bevvie sees coffee pleasantly sweetened by a kick of fermented rice (糯米) that comes through in both aroma and taste – successfully combining a longstanding Chinese flavor profile with the modern import of coffee. Weirdly enough, this works better than anything else we tasted. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

In total, we dropped RMB270 on a mistake of a brunch for two people and left unsatisfied – with an off-the-charts blood sugar. We can think of many a place we’d rather spend that money for a first meal of the day and leave happy – without having to worry about our deteriorating health. Chalk this one up as a win for the wanghong gods. Dianping food porn strikes again. 


See a listing for MicangPop.

[Cover image by Sophie Steiner/That's]

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