Heavy Hitting American Food at Austin Hu’s Diner

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More glorious American diner food in Shanghai

Shanghai’s Austin “King of All Things Bacon” Hu is back with another heavy hitter in modern American eatery Diner.

Restaurateurs wish they had such a prime spot on the corner of Wuyuan Lu and Wulumuqi Zhong Lu. (It’s the same stretch where Avocado Lady and Little Catch are located.) It’s so small with only enough room for a few booths. And naturally—since it’s a diner—there are a stools at the counter overlooking the griddle station. Outdoor seating is in the works, too.

It’s 12 o’clock somewhere, so you might as well order a Bloody Mary (RMB68). Diner’s is spicy with a generous splash of vodka and garnished with a spear of homemade Spam, piquillo peppers and olives. [Spam is a US brand of canned cooked meat made with pork, ham, starch and seasoning.]

The Egg Sandy (RMB62) is a good place to start. You have a choice of sausage, homemade spam or bacon as the topping, alongside cheddar, arugula, tomato jam and a dab of chipotle aioli. Mark our words. This will soon be “everyone’s favorite” breakfast sandwich.

The French Toast, Pancakes and Burger are all available in three gradations: Classic, Fun and Gold Standard. As you’d imagine, each level up includes one or another premium ingredient from foie gras to more bacon. Go big or go home, we say. Go for the Gold Standard, all three.

This version of the French Toast (RMB98) is a devastatingly good, highlighted by swirls of strawberry pepper syrup, strawberry compote and pistachio streusel with foie gras lurking beneath the lashings of brandy gravy. The toast has a dense custard-like consistency, heavy from its milky bath. Absolutely decadent.

The Gold Standard Pancakes (RMB78) are dense and moist. Hu scatters, smothers chunks and tops them with crushed Ferrero Rocher, hazelnut butter, bacon and caramelized fried banana. As much as you may want to finish this fine serving, it’s more than one person can handle.

Served with a double patty, the Gold Standard Burger (RMB128) is topped with Russian dressing, sauerkraut, pastrami, caramelized onion and gruyere. And good God is it messy. Thick pickles serve as a much needed palate cleanser.

For perspective, the Classic Burger is RMB88, served with a double Wagyu patty and American cheese, while the Classic Pancakes are RMB55 and comes with just butter and maple syrup.

Then, there’s the Disco Fries (RMB72)—crisp fries drizzled over with black pepper gravy, cheese and gremolata with chunks of pork jowl thrown in. You’ll probably have to share this too.

Ultimately, Diner is nothing short of what you’d expect from Austin Hu. Expect a crowd, but that’s usually the case with anywhere worth eating in Shanghai. Hopefully the outdoor seating will alleviate that. We also hear that they’ll be opening late night hours, which will be great when you’ve had too many Manhattans down the street at Senator Saloon or Second Moment. Until then, soft opening hours are from Monday to Friday, 10am-5pm.

Address: 145 Wuyuan Lu (near Wulumuqi Zhong Lu) 五原路145号(近乌鲁木齐中路)

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