Sanctus Tibetbar on Hengshan Lu
Let’s get together in the name of Tibet.
Let’s happy in the Tibetan way.
Such is the philosophy of Shanghai’s sparkling new “restaurant and groggery” (that’s what it says on the name card!), Sanctus Tibetbar on Hengshan Lu. No complaints there (except a linguistic one: “Let’s happy”?). The décor, too, should bring a smile to the face, with great swathes of colourful Tibetan art and wall-hangings splashed about the place.
Less friendly is the food. Shanghaiist has never been to Lhasa, but we’re quite sure that you don’t get greeted by a buxom islander in a hula skirt handing out fragrant leis. Which makes us wonder how the menu of a Tibetan restaurant can feature “Hawaiian Pork”. (Let alone “Cheese and Spinach Grilled Toast”). We didn’t order these geographic anomalies, but after sampling the Momos (RMB 25) we wish we had. These pungently wrong dumplings make it clear why Tibet has so many Buddhist monks: when faced with a plate of food like this, a life of abstinence must seem an exhilarating proposition.
It didn’t help that our peace of mind was shredded by a group of 30 local adventurers who had gathered at the restaurant for a slideshow of their crappy tour of Yunnan Province, with an over-zealous tour leader belting out boring vignettes through a sound system which was uncharitably cranked to 11. Guys, please: By all means run a loud, dull presentation of a recent trip to southern China, but next time can you do it in the privacy of your own home? Preferably in the linen closet, with a bolt and chain around the door handles.
Not everything was inedible. The Malai Kofta (RMB 35) passed the test; a Mutton Curry (RMB 40) was flavoursome; and the Roti (RMB 20) were fresh and warm. Customers at a nearby table were tucking into the Tibetan Roasted Lamb Leg (RMB 98) which looked heavy but good. (They were also hovering uncertainly over a plate of Raw Yak Meat). And the Lhasa Beer (“Beer From the Roof of the World”) had its moments, though not enough of them to justify RMB 35 for a single can.
Still, the Sanctus Tibetbar is certainly trying. On the ground floor is a shop selling cushions, incense and ornaments from Tibet and Nepal. And a colleague of Shanghaiist who bravely stayed on after we had fled into the night informs us that there was a Tibetan music and dance performance at 9 pm.
But by that time we were firmly entrenched at Studio 78 (formerly Tiki: check out the video at their website), taking advantage of their Wednesday night offer of free beers for all the blokes.
Ah, free beer. Now that is Shangri-La.
Sanctus Tibetbar, 6 Hengshan Lu (near Wulumuqi Lu). Tel: 6466 1491. Studio 78, 2F, 78 Tongren Lu. Tel: 6289 3715.
Eat Me is a semi-regular feature on Shanghaiist that highlights new or noteworthy restaurants in Shanghai. Know of a restaurant you think deserves consideration? Email us at tips(@)shanghaiist.com.