You don’t have to be a vegetarian to realize there are great things going on at Kush, one of Shanghai’s newest arrivals and one of the edgiest restaurants to open its doors in recent memory. Tucked away on Yanping Road near Xinzha Road in the foreigner stronghold that is the Jing’an Temple area, Kush opened its doors about a month ago after much anticipation from the vegetarian, vegan, and eco-conscious community.
Though the menu caters to vegetarians, vegans, and organic folks, don’t let the labels and preconceived notions of “rabbit food” throw you off. This is a restaurant that deals in tastes rather than ideologies, and they put their money where their mouth is with a variety of wraps, burgers, juices and, of course, salads.
We normally avoid appetizers (preferring to gorge ourselves on the main course), but Kush changed our mind in two ways. First, the Fresh Spring Rolls (36RMB) combine cucumber, carrots, tofu and rice noodles into a refreshingly cool and crisp package that, when served with a bowl of tangy soy sauce, reignited our love affair with raw veggies.
Second, the Kush Dip Plate (58RMB) pairs hummus, cashew and pesto dips with homemade pita bread. Though the dips, especially the cashew, are creamy and divine and will disappear fast, a pita that was baked and crispy, rather than flimsy and soft, would’ve been an even better compliment.
Among entrees, the crowd favorite so far has been the Arabian Wrap (59RMB), a mouth-watering falafel wrap with hummus, tzatziki and tomato that balanced the tastes so well it actually reversed my wife’s normal aversion to tomato. The burgers also deserve a huge shout-out, particularly the Tofu Spicy Burger (65RMB), which we would best describe as tasting almost exactly like a spicy chicken patty — minus the gratuitous grease.
The other options like the Kush Veggie Burger (69RMB) and the Lentil Burger (59RMB) certainly don’t disappoint, but they aren’t quite as scrumptious as the Tofu Spicy Burger. All burgers come paired with an extremely fresh side salad that leaves you wishing for a second serving of the perfectly blended concoction of vinaigrette and greens, rather than the more traditional option of fries.
More Than Just Mock
Kush’s menu isn’t only limited to mock meats, however, and includes other tantalizing options like Green Curry (47RMB), Soba Noodles (58RMB) and Otsu (63RMB) that will mean plenty of visits to try other dishes in the not-too-distant future.
Keeping with the healthy kick, Kush doesn’t serve any beers or liquors, but does have a healthy choice of French organic wines (a restaurant rarity even in the States!) and a menu of juices, health drinks and water infusions longer and more daunting than the food menu.
We sampled the Dosha Balancing Drink (25RMB) and the Chilled Chai Smoothie (25RMB), and the Dosha came out ahead with its blend of bananas, almonds and dates. It made us wonder if there wasn’t something else in it that made it so flavorful — either the chefs are magicians or they’re slipping some cinnamon or nutmeg in (we’ll put our money on them being magicians).
Not Without Its Faults
When it seemed like Kush was just about to pitch a perfect game, we again broke our own tradition by ordering dessert. Deciding on Carrot Cake (27RMB) to keep with the clean flavors of the day, it unfortunately fell flat on its face with sparse flavors and bland carrot and coconut textures that failed to inspire.
Perhaps because we’re too spoiled by vegan desserts in the US (or just are sugar fiends), we were left disappointed. Looking at other reviews, it seems the “velvety” Ecstasy Balls (29RMB) are the go-to mouth-gasm, and their being sold-out when we visited seems to reinforce that fact.
Though you can get a taste of Kush through Sherpa’s delivery service, we definitely recommend making a trip out to the restaurant. Kush’s main selling point is its freshness, and we can vouch that the time your order spends in transit does a number on the freshness of the ingredients.
For those who live near the Jing’an Temple area, the option of delivery from the restaurant itself is available. And though we haven’t had the chance to test it, we assume the food will fare much more gracefully via direct delivery than it does with Sherpas.
Something For Everyone
No matter who you are or your obsession level with meat proteins, we bet you can find something unique and enjoyable at Kush. They’re not trying to change your mind or your lifestyle, but rather reinvent your passion for food, evident through their signature “Enlightened Meals”. Combine that with an extremely friendly and motivated staff, and you’ve got a recipe for deliciousness. So go ahead, enlighten your tastebuds and cinch your wasteline in a taste experience not soon forgotten.
Kush // Telephone: 5175 9822 // 98 Yanping Road, near Xinzha Road (延平路98号， 近新闸路) // Closest Metro stop: Jing’an Temple (静安寺) Line 2 or Changping Road (昌平路) Line 7