Maybe it’s because we’re American and therefore required to make fun of Canadians about everything, but when we walked into the Pudong Julie’s Food Experience, located off the Science and Technology Museum stop, the jokes started pouring out. But like a good ol’ Northern Neighbor, the restaurant didn’t let us deter it… and by sheer force of niceness and thoroughly decent food, shamed us into feeling a little guilty about it afterward.
Not guilty enough to stop making jokes though, eh?
Anyhow, Julie’s Food Experience bills itself as a Canadian restaurant. If the decor is anything to go by, a Canadian restaurant is an off-brand Northern-Midwest Denny’s with cardboard cutouts of polar bears (a truly Canadian mammal?) and mounties. Hardwood booths dominated the seating section and children’s drawings (most likely from the expat crowd in nearby Jinqiao) covered the window to the kitchen.
Curious about what Canadian cuisine actually is? We were too. Turns out it’s a hefty mix of Continental comfort foods (fruit plates), British pub fare (Shepherd’s pie), and American diner staples (pie, burgers, pancakes)… oh… and we suppose, North Americanized French foods: crepes, brouchettes and poutine.
Speaking of which, yes, there’s poutine and several customization options for it. You’ve got your “Traditional Canadian,” with diced cheese (to replicate the feel of cheese curds, we suppose) and beef gravy, priced at 30RMB for a small, 50RMB for a medium, 70RMB for a large. If that sounds too boring, there’s the option of adding chicken to it (Chicken Poutine) or covering it in Bolognese meat sauce (Italian Poutine) for 8RMB extra. We tried out the Italian, which was huge even when it was 38RMB and tastes like it’d be absolutely amazing hangover food.
The rest of our orders off the extremely extensive and confusing menu (it’s almost 20 pages long and shoved full of 90s fonts, menu options and some perplexing photoshops – you can get a sense of the craziness online here) fit that bill as well. A roasted chicken (between 58RMB to 88RMB, depending on cut and size) had skin that was both crispy and delightfully greasy, and came with a smotherable amount of gravy. Julie’s Special House Salad (similar to a Cobb. 80RMB) towered high above our plate and soothed our stomachs. Captain Tim’s Roast Beef Goulash (88RMB) was satisfyingly thick, heavy and paprikaed. We liked it just about as much as Captain Tim seemed to.
Also working in Julie’s favor, the coffee (22RMB) is refillable and the smoothies give Element Fresh a run for their money. We chugged one 600ML one that contained banana, granola, honey and yoghurt (36RMB) and felt like that could’ve been a breakfast in itself.
While we’re on the subject of money, the prices were a little daunting – not surprising considering its distance from an expat hub. Sandwiches average around 68RMB and fancier mains, like the Bake Pork Chop shoot up past the 100s mark. But we suppose it works itself out in the end since most of these dishes could be easily shared.
And besides, they’re good. And unpretentious. And in the end, what we wanted to say to all the staff was: for all those snarky asides about snow and bastardized French… We’re sorey.
Julie’s Food Experience is located 288 Jin Yan Road, near Dong Xiu Road, right next to the Shanghai Science & Technology Museum stop on Line 2. Phone: 68450398. They also have a location ion the Hong Mei Pedestrian Street (No. 26), but we haven’t been there yet.