Tag Archives: bikini

Shanghai: Bikini

7 Jul

It seems that whatever Chef Willy Trullas Moreno of El Willy fame touches will turn to gold. Bikini, a vintage adult cinema meet space age themed hotdog and sandwich shop (I know right, how cool is that) below El Coctel is yet another winning concept. It’s a casual venue that also opens till late, perfect for that pre/post drinking/clubbing snack especially given its location. We dropped by for a post dinner snack and and it was almost running on a full house on a Friday night. Spot the glow in the dark stickers of the solar system on the ceiling!

As you can imagine, this must be quite a hit with the expat crowd, there was a large gathering that took up almost all the tables as it’s a really small space (not more than 25 me thinks). If you’re flying solo or want something quick you can also sit at the bar stools. I’m loving their mirror cum menu board btw.

Keeping on brand, there were lots of posters of bikini clad bombshells, and the menu items are named after adult film actors/actresses ;) Bikini is actually named after a famous disco in 70s’ Barcelona known for its sandwiches. IMO, dancing + sarnies = FTW.

Under the “Very Hot Dogs”, which are all served on baguettes, we tried the Mr. Holmes (65RMB) which had toppings of crispy bacon, avocado, mayo, spicy salsa and crispy shallots. Seriously, it’s like all the popular (and my favourite) toppings on a dog, so you can’t really go wrong with this. But I felt that the baguette could be crispier.

The Mr. Vidal (45RMB), with lime-mayo ketchup, basil, diced tomato, jalapenos and raw and crispy shallots, on the other hand was not up my alley as the jalapenos were too spicy for me. If you like a spicy dog, order this. I also felt that both were quite similar in flavour profiles, we probably should have ordered Mr Jeremy that had mushroom and truffle toppings for contrast.

We washed the hotdogs down with an iced cold Estrella Damm – what a good way to round up the night.

From the “Hot and Pressed” menu, I’ve previously tried two at El Coctel (Bikini sandwiches are available there) and they were Ms Anderson (55RMB) with warm smoked salmon, walnut, spinach, apple and goat cheese (pictured) and Ms Fox (58 RMB) with mustard, ham and Emmental cheese. Both were just incredibly delicious, toasty and easily some of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had.

Other than hot dogs and sandwiches they also have “Snackies” which were Spanish tapas, and “Choripan” which were hot dogs made with Argentinian beef chorizo sausages but we didn’t have anymore stomach space. While I love the sandwiches, I felt a little underwhelmed by the hot dogs. Perhaps I’m spoilt by the ones I had off the street carts in Toronto that were really good (and only half the price, ironically). So if you’re looking for a hearty/traditional hot dog or a proper meal, Bikini isn’t the place as it does more fancy/fusion hot dogs and the portions are snack-like. But if you’re up for just a fun gourmet snack before hitting the bars and clubs in French Concession, and don’t mind paying 65RMB for a hot dog, then this is your place.

Price: $$$
Location:  47 Yongfu Lu, near Fuxing Xi Lu
Opening Hours: Daily 6pm to 2am
Tel: +86 21 64336511

Shanghai: El Coctel

6 Jul

El Coctel, a Japanese-inspired Spanish cocktail bar owned by Chef Willy Trullas Moreno of popular tapas restaurant El Willy, is one of my favourite cocktail bars in Shanghai. It’s just about the prettiest bar that I’ve been to, but lest you think it’s all style and no substance, I’ll have you know that they serve great cocktails and gourmet sandwiches (from Chef Willy’s hot dog and sandwich shop Bikini one floor below the bar).

It’s hard to not feel relaxed here and let all your troubles slip away here. I love its eclectic apartment style decor; complete with mismatched chairs, plush leather sofas, quirky art pieces and watercolour wallpaper. In the day, floor to ceiling windows fill the room with gorgeous light and at night, a dim orange glow makes it really conducive for a date. Lovely is an understatement.

It would be nice to one day sit at the bar one day and watch their (hipster) bartenders make my drinks/converse with them since that’s a huge part of the cocktail bar experience, but that day we were contented to have our own little quiet spot in the corner for girl talk.

How cute is the flamingo coaster? Its watercolour animal and floral themed brand identity is just adorable.

We were served a complimentary bar snack of popcorn and excellent nuts that were both sweet and savoury. Really good!

To start, we both had something light and fruity. I thought the Harvard Cooler (Calvados Fizz) (8oRMB) was a witty take on cider. It actually tastes like a cider, though it was made using Calvados (apple liquor from Normandy), lemon juice and powdered sugar and then aerated and shaken. Great concept and I liked the slight fizz.

The Sakura Caprioska (80RMB) is a must order IMO, as sakura (cherry blossoms) liquor doesn’t often feature on cocktails menus. With the addition of gin, orange and lemon, this was a uniquely floral yet well-balanced cocktail. The choice of citrus fruits complemented the sakura flavour well.

If you’re feeling peckish, you should order from the sandwich menu here, as they are not your average bar food standard. This was the warm salmon, walnuts, apple, spinach and goat cheese panini (55RMB). What an interesting combination that really works! The salmon went really well with the sweet apple slices and goat cheese. And the bread was nicely toasted. Sure it’s not that cheap for a sandwich in China, but I think it’s good enough for a light meal. On a previous trip, I had the ham, emmental and mustard panini (55RMB) which was also amazing and totally elevated my ham and cheese sarnie experience to a new high. The melted cheese was a dream, and good quality ham was actually used (a treat in China).

The Snow Ball (80RMB) was a Japanese interpretation that had Advocat, lime juice, and ginger ale. I tend to shy away from eggs in my cocktails, but the Advocat liquor (egg based brandy) was actually quite comforting, and was nicely balanced with the citrus and the fizzy ginger ale.

For the last cocktail for the road, I went for the Islay Old Fashioned (80RMB), which was a usual old fashioned (spirit, sugar, orange, bitters) with an additional 5ml shot of Islay single malt. This was extremely smooth and had a nice tint of smokiness. Felt very manly gulping this down as we were running late for dinner, angsty Don Draper would approve.

This is definitely one of my go to bars in Shanghai even though it’s a tad pricier. I like the classy ambiance and their house cocktails are all quite unique. They also seem to refresh their menu seasonally as I spotted a few new/missing drinks since my previous trip. Finding the bar is a bit of a challenge though, as there isn’t a signboard bearing its name anywhere. So do the folks at The Apartment (a neighbouring bar that always get asked where El Coctel is) a favour and look out for a discreet entrance with a cocktail shaker and walk up the stairs.

Price: $-$$ (~80 RMB per cocktail, ~55RMB for sandwich)
Location: 2/F, 47 Yongfu Lu, near Fuxing Xi Lu
Opening Hours: Daily 5pm till late
Tel: +86 21 6433 6511
Website: http://el-coctel.com/