Today (Tuesday Feb 28) is Shrove Tuesday, otherwise more excitingly known as Pancake Day. Shrove Tuesday marks the last day before Lent, traditionally a period of abstinence, associated with clearing your cupboards of things like sugar, fat and eggs. It's known as Pancake Day because it represents a good opportunity to use up such ingredients. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
Here are Shanghai's top places to get suitably battered this Pancake Day (or indeed any day). If you'd prefer to go DIY, here's a complete guide to making pancakes at home.
Regulars on the Shanghai foodie circuit will have probably seen the guys from Papito Pancakes whipping up snacks at many of the city’s food fares and Christmas markets. Swing by their physical store at The Market on Aomen Lu for super simple grab-and-go Serbian style pancakes, filled with classic Nutella and fruit combinations (35RMB) or offbeat variations such as Cheese and Nutella or Eastern European inflected ham, cheese and roasted paprika (45RMB).
Papito's Pancakes is at 280 Aomen Lu, near Changhua Lu, Putuo district.
This Donghu Lu spot is so perennially popular that they had to open a second mini-me branch in the Shanghai Centre (Lil Laundry). It's a place of dangerously versatile offerings, but before you get to the pizzas and craft beer, the pancakes (only served Sat-Sun 11am-2.45pm) are well worth getting there on a weekend morning for. The Sydney-inspired Bills Ricotta Pancakes (78RMB) come with pinenut-honeycomb butter and fresh bananas.
Liquid Laundry is at Second Floor, K Wah Centre, 1028 Huaihai Zhong Lu, near Donghu Lu, Xuhui district.
Just a stumble down Donghu Lu to the corner of Xinle Lu you'll find Al's Diner, the former ice cream parlour that just over a year ago made the leap into the wider world of US comfort food. The crowds flocking here come weekend or weekday suggest it's a move that paid off. The showstopper from its all-day breakfast menu is the blueberry and lemon-ricotta pancakes (60RMB). These fluffy Frisbee-sized discs of deliciousness are as satisfying as you’d expect with plump blueberries and grated lemon zest making every bite a sweet and fruity joy. To up the pleasure-ante, Gracie’s ice cream can be added for 20RMB (flavours include vanilla bean, chocolate or miso caramel). There are also the Superstar Buttermilk Pancakes (pictured above, 50RMB), and you can add chocolate chips and chocolate fudge for 10RMB.
Al's Diner is at 204 Xinle Lu, near Donghu Lu, Xuhui district.
We've developed a sizeable soft spot for this laid-back Wuding Lu diner, which serves up American 'feel good food' (breakfasts, burgers, hotdogs and such) and great milkshakes (try the peanut butter chocolate) at wonderfully low prices. A highlight from the all-day breakfast menu is the blueberry pancakes (38RMB), fluffy and satisfying things served with syrup, eggs, sausage or bacon and a free tea or coffee. It's an on-point way to start any morning.
Munchies is at 974 Wuding Lu (Jingan district) and 563 Shunchang Lu (Huangpu district).
Mr Pancake House
This long-time breakfast chain may have struggled to keep up with the new kids on the pancake block, but it's still a dependable option for a spot-hitting American breakfast at wallet-friendly prices. Our top pick is the Big House Breakfast (52RMB) which comes with two of those pancakes dusted with icing sugar and with maple syrup on the side as well as two eggs fried or scrambled, a slice of ham, bacon, chicken sausage and crispy fried potato cubes.
Mr Pancake House has several branches around Shanghai.
French favourite La Creperie
offers the ultimate range of Breton-style classic and flambéed crepes
(55-66RMB), served with anything from homemade salted butter caramel and
coconut ice cream to tangy orange marmalade and contrieu atop the traditional
Crepe Suzette. No sweet tooth? Try a traditional buckwheat-based Breton
gallette paired with meats, cheeses, eggs or even fresh seafood. Le Kereon,
topped with Emmental, blue and goat cheeses and a drizzle of salted butter
caramel (118RMB) is the glutton’s go-to gallette.
La Creperie is at 1601 Nanjing Xi Lu (Jingan) and 1 Taojiang Lu (Xuhui district).
Plus... Your local jianbing hero
Tom Mascardo on Flickr
We're in China, folks. And this land happens to have its own notorious pancake offering: the mighty jianbing. It might just be our favourite Chinese breakfast staple. Whether your street corner is slinging the big Beijing-style bing or the crispier Shanghai spin, city life would be that little bit harder without this terrific pancake.