It’s great when you can become a regular at a food institution. I have yet to reach that status anywhere, but I always flash to those movie scenes where someone sits at a diner or a bar and just says, “The usual.” To me, there’s just something appealing about going to a restaurant where everyone knows you and you know everyone.
In Shanghai, one of my friends has actually reached that status at a restaurant nearby our dorms: Boom Café. She often misses Western-style food, and Boom Café provides just the fix she needs. Plus, its convenient location means that she can stop by on the way back from school anytime she wants. Boom Café also has a lot of odds and ends that would appeal to college students. There were books on the shelves with strange subjects, a pet turtle, and games.
When we walked into Boom Café, the owner immediately recognized my friend, smiled, and nudged the employee at the register in a “Look, it’s her!” sort of fashion. Yup, she was definitely a regular. My friend recommended the chicken sandwich (50 RMB), so I took her advice. When I walked up to the counter to place my order, the waiter laughed. Apparently, we had all ordered the same thing based on my friend’s recommendation. The waiter then told me how my friend comes in every week and orders the same thing.
At that point, I thought, “Darn, it must be one heck of a good chicken sandwich.” My anticipation just kept growing. The sandwich itself had all the usual fixings, and I liked now each sandwich had not one but two pieces of chicken, which were not dry at all. The cheese probably should have been melted more, and the sandwich in general could have been warmed up, but overall it was a satisfying sandwich.
The side salad was way too acidic; my lips even started to chap near the end of the meal. I appreciated the inclusion of bell peppers and cucumbers to add some crunch. The burning sensation was too much to bear, however, and I had to abandon the salad in the end.
Perhaps I was expecting too much, because my friend is a huge fan of the restaurant, but I felt that the food at Boom Café was not exactly rave-worthy. It has a lot of bistro fare that you might be missing from home – sandwiches, pasta, pizza, coffee – and the environment has character, but food-wise the restaurant fell short with some misses on the details. Boom Café does get points, though, for the very friendly owner and his welcoming attitude.
313 Xuanhua Road (宣化路313号)
Changning, Shanghai, China