The buzz: New salad bar/fresh food concept from the brains behind Shanghai Organic. Like Element Fresh, but cheaper.
The décor: Located at the bustling intersection of Shimen Yi Lu and the once-glorious Wujiang Food Street (which now festers behind a Better City, Better Life banner. Does that mean better street food too?), the full-length windows allow a generous amount of people watching as you feast. Specials adorn the blackboard, and salads are on display behind the glass counter. For once, this works a treat. Usually when a place shows “real life” examples of their food, the resulting dishes are sub-par; not here. The whole place has a healthy, bright, airy, wholesome vibe. Which a salad bar should.
The food: Salads cover all bases from a hearty German potato mix through Caesar, crayfish, Greek, goat cheese, and spinach varieties. Prices float at around 48 – 50 RMB. We tried the Greek salad which consisted of chunky tomato, cucumber, onion and feta with Mediterranean herbs and olive oil, and the spinach and goat cheese special. Both were fresh, tasty, and generously portioned. We went for the salad and soup combo for 58 RMB and the beef minestrone with crusty brown roll was top notch. The food menu stretches to wraps, panini, sandwiches and sweet stuff. The banana bread we tried was perfect.
The drinks: Smoothies and juices, coffees and teas. We tried the carrot juice, and the sunshine smoothie, and both were great.
Why you’ll be back: If you like Element Fresh but aren’t so keen on the prices, Zest could be the answer to your prayers. Salads might be slightly smaller, but they’re still filling and tasty.