Having already earned some solid healthy food and lifestyle fame in Beijing, restauranteurs Daniel Urdaneta and Alex Molina brought their ‘eating well and feeling good’ hip Latin-vibed restaurant/cafe to Shanghai, and it’s being met with rave reception. Moka Bros has been seething with urban loungers and digital nomads pretty much from the moment it opened, and it’s not hard to see why. Chilling here is like being in your own living room, but with a steadily flow of soy lattes and a massive street-style mural you’d never get your landlord to approve.
You’re met with good vibes from the start: smiley staff, the huge chillaxed terrace is pet-friendly and there’s lots of brightly coloured food winking your way. Hip technicolour decor backs up the cafe’s uplifting attitude, with walls splattered with giant sugar skulls, positive mantras telling you you’re cooler than a unicorn and other vibrant flair hanging in your sight – you can tell that someone’s put a lot of thought into helping you have a better day.
The fare is fair and mostly likeable; some’s even great. The spinach and artichoke dip, for start, tastes just like the party snack should: creamy to the max, parmesan-rich and they don’t skimp on the artichokes. Rivalling other avocado toasts around town at 38RMB plus 10RMB for not one but two poached eggs, Moka Bros’ signature grain-packed rye bread with smashed avocado gets you your fix, even if it’s a bit too soft. For more bread, the kale and goat cheese sandwich is one that would take effort to dislike.
Liquids get thumbs up all around: fruit-packed smoothies, big strong coffees with soy, skim or whole, and a basic but suitable group of hard-to-mess-up cocktails for 50RMB a pop. Just try best to hold back a shriek of horror when your negroni arrives in a wine glass with a straw – its criminal, but the drink’s volume and flavour will convince you to overlook its vessel.
Bowls only manage to hover between good and okay – the Red Rice Crunch with avocado, beans and cilantro-lime dressing is punchy but lacks a substantial ingredient to fill you up; the Jungle Jumble has the right veg but is left nearly naked and therefore tasteless; and if you don’t like heaps of cumin, definitely skip the paleo cauliflower ‘rice’. On the more misbehaved part of the menu, however, the waffles are spot on, especially the roasted apple version with cinnamon sauce and good vanilla ice cream.
Truth: it’s probably not the food that will make Moka Bros your top spot for laptop and chill – it’s the atmosphere that really makes it a top-notch place to be, whether you’re flying solo for a working lunch, rolling up with a group for brunch or just need a fresh meeting spot. It’s just a top notch place to be. So while other healthy eateries may come and go, Moka Bros has got the stuff of places that stick around.