Since we were being hosted by friends and residents of Shanghai, we didn't do a lot of research in advance of our arrival. One thing that did pop up, though, was a monthly vegan brunch at Glam. Happily for us, this coincided with our last day in the city and we made a reservation. Glam is a glittery bar on the 7th floor of a building on the Bund, meaning that it has impressive views of the city skyline (see photo below). From the decor to the menu to the price (350 yuan ~ AU$68.90 per person compared to the ~AU$7 per person we were routinely paying elsewhere), it's clear that Glam is targeted at western migrants and visitors; little about the place indicates that we're in China at all, save for customised plates upon which Shanghai women have their heads replaced with vegetables (blergh).
The menu is not only vegan but gluten-free. We started with a choice of a Virgin Mary or a mango sago drink; the sago was very welcome as I arrived hot and hungry. The amuse bouche of sesame-crusted celtuce was soy-salty and juicy, and much less substantial.
The following two courses were delightfully light and fresh. We were each allowed just two beetroot ravioli, which were filled with cashew butter and apple, then garnished with candied orange. The summer soup was served with some theatrical dry ice, but I was more impressed by its soothing combination of mint sorbet, cucumber and aloe vera.
Though they weren't really complementary, the final two savoury courses were served together. A pineapple filled with a warmly spiced chickpea and pineapple curry and wild rice side kept up the summery theme. I thought the gnocchi were more autumnal. Made with smoked kumara and cassava, they had the almost-gelatinous texture of glutinous rice dumplings. They were well accompanied by pine nut curds, kale, chilli and purple rice salt.
Dessert was a sticky, deconstructed lemon pie with what I assume were miniature aquafaba meringues. This left a lovely tangy-sweet taste in my mouth long after the meal was over.
After many days of eating noodles, potatoes and fried foods, the small portions and fresh vegetables at Glam went down very well. We felt weirder about the setting, which was at best an instagram trap and at worst held a whiff of cultural appropriation.
7F, 5 The Bund, 20 Guangdong Lu, Shanghai
Vegan brunch drinks, food