“True American Flavor” is splashed all over UD Burgers & Grill’s trendy spot on the roof of the foodie haven Joy City mall.
We found the Urban Diner Classic Burger (cheddar, ketchup, yellow mustard, pickle; 68 RMB); Mustang Sally Burger (sautéed mushrooms, onions, peppers, Emmenthal cheese, garlic aioli; 78 RMB); and Cyclops Burger (green chili, bacon, friend egg, smoked tomato jam, caramelized onions, peppers; 78 RMB) to all be delicious representations of modernized American classics.
UD’s pickles are fantastic – cool and tangy and very crisp, with a bold sourness.
We loved the presentation of the burgers, including the ceramic animal bowls the ketchup came in.
The coffee milkshake (50 RMB) was fine but there are better milkshakes to be found in Shanghai
What made the most visual impact were the Macaroni and Cheese (48 RMB) and Chili Cheese Fries (58 RMB). Both make great appetizers split between three each dish.
I knew I needed to order the mac and cheese when I saw a multi-generational family at another table plunging their forks into the skillet and dragging out meter-long cheese strings.
The amount of mac and cheese that comes in a cast iron skillet looks small but is extremely satisfying and comforting. Unfortunately, while the stretchiness of the cheese is super fun, the flavor and texture are off because this mac and cheese didn’t taste cheesy at all. The main flavor was of Béchamel (white) sauce. A disappointment that could have been amazing.
The Chili Cheese Fries were way better. Generous amounts of chili with beans, cheddar, mozzarella, and pickled jalapenos buried a pile of excellent skin-on fries.
Chinese people don’t ask for doggie bags to take food home because of Chinese cultural values regarding leftovers, so it’s not unusual for restaurants to charge 1 RMB (about 14 cents) for a container. UD charged 2 RMB, the highest I’ve seen, for one of the most attractive and least useful containers I’ve ever put my leftovers in.
It was a glossy cardboard box with a loose plastic lid that didn’t fasten over the top. After a bit of wrangling – outside the restaurant, because we had already left – a server came over with a stapler and stapled the lid to the bottom. This is just really, really bad. Stapling is an unnecessarily crude way of doing something which could have been done easier with a normal take out container, and it also made it hard for me to get the food out of the container at home. Function should not follow form in certain very practical and no-frills aspects of life. This includes toilet paper, toothbrushes, and take out containers. Rather unprofessional of UD here.
I’ll stick to appreciating their attitude towards life instead.
UD Burgers & Grill
9F Joy City II North Tower, 198 North Xizang Road, Zhabei, Shanghai