As a former denizen of New York City’s Lower East Side, I’d grown to associate hole-in-the-wall establishments with culinary goodness. So naturally, I was excited to see that a small coffee shop/cafe called Paradox had taken root across from the Pancake House in Jing’an, the Shanghai neighborhood perhaps most like the Lower East Side. But would it actually live up to the “Paradox,” and serve good coffee in Shanghai?
After sampling the cappuccino (25RMB), we decided Paradox’s coffee was in the same class as Starbucks’ in that it provides a jolt of caffeine. To nitpick, the bitterness kind’ve edged out the creaminess and most unforgivably, our cappuccino’s froth didn’t sport a flower or heart design (bastards!).
We moved onto the food, which includes hot dog (12RMB), croque monsieur (20RMB), and spinach roll bites, salads, and paninis served warm or cold between baguette or ciabatta bread slices.
We decided on a cold salami and cheese panini with ciabatta (30RMB), which was unfortunate, because the cold really brings out the sponginess of the bread, which tastes like a ciabatta-Wonder Bread hybrid. The frigid tomatoes weren’t such a catch either.
As a refuge from the bustling tempo of Shanghai street-life, Paradox works, and it’s a snug spot to grab a cup-a-joe and people watch. But considering its independent, craft-like aura, which generally denotes a place that does a few things well, we expected a bit more. And if you’re craving Western, the Pancake House and Munchies remain your best bets on that strip of Wuding Lu.
Paradox – 890 Wuding Lu, near Changde Lu (武定路890号, 近常德路). Tel: (0)21-6253-0122.
See a complete list of our reviews here.
Benjamin Cost is Shanghaiist’s Food Editor. Email tips, recommendations, and news updates on Shanghai’s dining scene to [email protected].