The newest member of the Shanghai Library area’s growing restaurant fraternity, Piri Piri is set up as sort of an International House of Pancakes but for chicken with everything from chicken burgers to the whole fowl. The olive oil is sourced from Turkey, the chilies from South Africa, and the Chinese owner spent his last four years in Istanbul. Sounds like a recipe for a vibrant concept, right? Unfortunately, Piri Piri is a tutorial in blandness.
The decor is colorful enough with wall murals and a cabinet stocked with Piri Piri’s special hot sauce to go. There’s even a quaint spiral staircase leading to the second floor and a back room with WIFI. But the atmosphere feels like it’s on Quaaludes. The waitresses lean on the bar impassively, the owner sulks at a table in the corner, and there was practically no one there at 7pm. The only thing missing was a jukebox playing Hank Williams on a loop and a drunk slumped over at the end of the bar.
Chicken butterfly with garlic bread
Everything from chicken wings (28RMB for four, 68RMB for ten) to a chicken cheese burger (88RMB on its own, 110RMB with two sides) to a Jumbo Platter with two whole cluckers and four sides (278RMB) You’d think chicken would be their forte. It’s not. The chicken breast in our Chicken Butterfly (36RMB) was arid and underseasoned, and our chicken wings were cooked to death. The sides of sweet corn, garlic bread, and even the fries followed suit.
Piri Piri’s one saving grace is its hot sauce selection, which includes garlic lemon, lemon herb, wild herb, and several other varieties. Each one is a perfect marriage of tangy, savory, and spicy, rather than the standard one-note burn. We advise lubing up everything on the table liberally with this stuff.
In fact, we’d even venture to say they should’ve aborted the whole chicken shtick and set the place up as a hot sauce shop.
Grab a beer and a bottle of their special sauce to go.
Piri Piri – 5 Wuxing Lu, near Huaihai Zhong Lu (吴兴路5号, 近淮海中路). Tel: (0)21-3461-6682. Closest metro stop: Shanghai Library, line 10.
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].