American South BBQ Meets Nordic Flavors at Wukang Market’s Agnes

By Sophie Steiner, August 6, 2021

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The Place 

Agnes is a smoke and grill venue mixing together elements of the American South (think smoked brisket and roasted pork belly) and Nordic-inspired winter eats (pickles, slaw and soon-to-come smoked fish) with pretty much everything arriving between buns.

Milkshakes, slushies and soft serve ice cream round out the sweeter half of the current soft opening menu.

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Located on the first floor of Wukang Market, Chef Alexander Bitterling, who is shared with upstairs' Something, is still tinkering with the menu (as seems to be the trend with Wukang Market venues – they remain in soft opening for months, some nearing a year). 

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The man behind the magic is none other than Craig Willis (he's always up to something) who is currently building himself nothing short of a Wukang Market Empire, despite claiming to be in early stages of retirement. With multiple restaurants simultaneously opening in the last few months, we're gonna call it out as the most productive retirement on record.

READ MORE: Craig Willis Is Always Up to Something – This Time on Wukang Lu

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The name comes from Craig's grandma, which adds to the wholesome factor, so we will let the limited hours slide… for now. Give the people what they want: BBQ meats at all hours, all week, not just on weekends! 

The Food 

The menu is as simple as can be – two sandwiches to choose from, a few small sides – like fries and slaw – plus sweets and sips. That’s it. Stellar lunch fare, done well. 

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The smoked-in house Beef Brisket Bun (RMB78) sees dry rubbed beef that’s been smoked for four hours then slow-cooked for 16, stacked thickly on a potato brioche bun.

A tangy cucumber relish made of pickled cucumbers and shallots plus a zing of wholegrain mustard transcend through this traditionally fatty cut, making diners constantly ready to go in for another bite.

Want to go sans carbs? Order up 100 grams of the same smoked brisket for RMB58. 

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From fatty to ultra-indulgent, the Roast Pork Bun (RMB68) is all about chunks of roasted Danish Crown pork belly that’s finished at a high temperature, which is precisely when the magic happens; the meat’s insulation melts into a buttery coating, pooling across the top layer of skin that hardens into a thick, crust-like pork rind cracklin’.

Braised red cabbage, pickled cucumber and remoulade round out the morsel, all nestled between another one of those pillowy potato brioche buns. 

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Simple sides, like house-made Pickles (RMB15) – a cup of pickled cucumber, radish and cauliflower or basic bitch Cabbage Apple Slaw (RMB15) serve as backdrops for more of that tasty, tasty meat. 

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For dessert, make sure to order the rustic yet oh-so comforting Apple Crumble (RMB28) – roughly chopped chunks of apple, raisins and a ginger nut crumble, topped with vanilla ice cream. Oh yeah, and there’s a hit of that fine Kentucky bourbon for those craving the true American South flavors, just like how your mammy used to make it after Sunday church. 

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Or just go straight for the ice cream, with Soft Serve (RMB25) flavors like chocolate with salted caramel, or peanut or milk with white chocolate and blueberry – a real Sophie’s choice if you ask us (ok me, I’m Sophie, and this is one difficult choice).

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The drink offerings are even more expansive than the food with Milkshakes (RMB35) in chocolate, vanilla and berry blast; Slushies (RMB28) in lip-puckering limeade and Chinese style salted plum flavors; a classic Arnie Palmer that combines Crushed Lemonade (RMB28) and iced tea; Cold Brew Coffee (RMB28); Dalgona Coffee (RMB38) – the hottest quarantine trend of whipped coffee foam atop iced milk – and Mikkeller Beer (RMB48)

The Vibe 

It’s quick, it’s casual, you order at the counter and receive your food in minutes, so you can prioritize Wukang Lu people watching and jamming out to a playlist that speaks to our heart – yes, we are talking about Destiny’s Child, TLC and Missy Elliott. 

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Really, it’s just great quality roasted meats served like fast food in a trendy, well-lit, minimally decorated space. Our biggest (and only real) gripe is that it’s not open yet for lunch on weekdays, the prime time to take advantage of the food, service efficiency and space.

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Price: RMB68-120
Who’s Going: Meat lovers, those craving upscale fast food in Xuhui, people walking by on a the weekend thinking, “Hmmm, this wasn’t open during the week but now it’s packed; I should go in to find out why.”
Good For: Quick yet filling meals, a taste of the American South, cold drink quenching


See a listing for Agnes. Read more Shanghai Restaurant Reviews.

[Cover Image by Sophie Steiner/That's]

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