The gold standard of Middle Eastern food is now in Pudong – it’s Shanghai

The place

Lebanese of origin Wael Accadowner of Eli Falafel, had been working in international logistics in Shanghai for more than 15 years when he decided to become a restaurateur. Beginning with pop-up stalls at festivals in 2016, by May 2017 he had opened his first physical store on Wulumuqi Lu.

Image courtesy of Eli Falafel, Jiujiang Lu

Emerging from humble beginnings, the 20-seat restaurant primarily served falafel – deep-fried spicy chickpea fritters commonly eaten on the street in the Middle East – kebabs, wraps and dips, quickly establishing itself as the stallion -or casual Middle Eastern dishes in Shanghai. restaurant scene.

Image by Sophie Steiner/It’s

Image by Sophie Steiner/It’s

It only made sense then that Wael would continue to expand his empire, branching out further into new neighborhoods and larger spaces, as well as an expanded menu; 2019 saw the opening of the Jiujiang Lu site, while early 2021 brought Eli Falafel to the hungry masses of Lujiazui.

Image by Sophie Steiner/It’s

Image by Sophie Steiner/It’s

Image by Sophie Steiner/It’s

Image by Sophie Steiner/It’s

From the layout and decor to the specific recipe and presentation of each item, Wael and his team designed the Pudong venue, with the aim of bringing Lebanese culture to the people of Shanghai.

The brightly lit space features an open kitchen and 360-degree bar, with 150 seats inside and another 80 outside, all outfitted with decorative antique vases, gold-embossed lamps, d pillows in rich colors and pearls, while plants abound.

The food

Come hungry – and bring some friends while you’re there – as Pudong’s menu dives deep into Lebanese cuisine with a wide range of dips, salads, snacks, meat stews, pizzas, shawarma, kebabs, grilled protein platters, wraps, sandwiches, desserts, homemade ice cream and cocktails.


Image by Sophie Steiner/It’s

Start with an order from Eli Trio (RMB68)a selection of authentic Lebanese dips prepared at home from hummus – sun-dried organic chickpeas boiled and tossed with tahini, fresh lemon juice and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil; baba ghanouge – grilled eggplant mixed with tahini, minced garlic, lemon juice and Persian pomegranate seeds; and muhammara – roasted mild red Aleppo pepper mixed with walnuts, breadcrumbs and pomegranate syrup – all served with classic hot puff pastry.

Dips set the tone for the meal, opening your palate to the onslaught of flavors to come. And a layer on top of any other dishes you plan to order just happens to boost the flavor.

Image by Sophie Steiner/It’s

the Eli Falafel Salad (RMB68) is a fresher version of the traditional falafel pita sandwich. Swapping the carbs for a bed of fresh lettuce, the salad features fresh mint leaves and parsley along with tomato and avocado, all drizzled with a homemade tahini dressing.

Image by Sophie Steiner/It’s

An essential order, the Hummus topped with diced meat (RMB68) sees the lamb slow-cooked to charred perfection. The crisp, wavy edges serve as ideal containers for scooping up a dollop of succulent hummus, sprinkled with sumac, cumin and paprika.

Image by Sophie Steiner/It’s

the Eli’s Quick Bites (RMB105) are the best for sharing a taste of Lebanese street food, including a selection of starters spanning falafel; kibbe meatballs – bulgar wheat mixed with ground beef, onions, roasted pine nuts and spices; sambousek – crispy pie crust stuffed with ground beef, onions, roasted pine nuts and spices; beautiful lahme – minced meat fritters; cheese rkakat – puff pastry stuffed with gruyère, mozzarella, feta and fine herbs; and a large bowl of sour yogurt and olive oil for dipping.

Image by Sophie Steiner/It’s

Take a break (and readjust your belt buckle) before the sector arrives with Lebanese artisan coffee (RMB28), Served with maamoula shortbread biscuit filled with dates.

Image by Sophie Steiner/It’s

New to the menu, the Chicken Combo Sandwich (RMB78) and Fish and Shrimp Combo Sandwich (RMB88) arrive on toasted buns – stuffed with crispy fries – the latter topped with tangy tartar sauce.

Stacked high but structurally sound, each bite delivers a satisfying crunch from the fried coating, enhanced by a creamy bite of one of Shanghai’s best coleslaw.

Image by Sophie Steiner/It’s

They also offer Eli Combo (RMB78) for weekday lunches, where any wrap (choice of falafel, chicken liver, chicken shawarma, shish taouk, beef shawarma, lamb kabab, kafta kabab or potato) comes with hummus, a seasonal salad, fries and a soft drink.

DSC01720.jpgEggs and meat (RMB58), Image by Sophie Steiner/It’s

Unlike traditional Italian pizza dough which typically takes 16-24 hours to ferment, Lebanese pizza dough is ready in just three, resulting in a flatbread crust, sprinkled with spices, cheese, pickles, vegetables and meats.

Image by Sophie Steiner/It’s

the Pizza Sujuk (RMB108) features a gooey mix of mozzarella and Gruyere cheese topped with coin-sized rounds of spicy fermented beef sausage – a style of meat eaten in Middle Eastern and Balkan cuisine.

Other Lebanese pizza flavors include za’atar – dried thyme, sumac and toasted sesame seeds; lahme bi ajeen – ground meat, diced tomatoes, onions and a signature spice blend; falafel and vegetables; chicken or beef shawarma with fries, pickles, arugula, tomatoes, herbs and tahini; and many other Middle Eastern flavor combinations.

DSC01753.jpgMixed Shawarma Plate (RMB145), Image by Sophie Steiner/It’s

Image by Sophie Steiner/It’s

Like crème brûlée meets mozzarella stick, Knafeh Jibneh (RMB68) sees a mixture of shredded filo pastry, hearty melty mozzarella cheese mixed with fine semolina and cream plus a sprinkle of breadcrumbs on top.

Baked with a golden crust, this savory Middle Eastern treat is served hot, sprinkled with crushed organic pistachios and drizzled with rose water and homemade orange blossom syrup.

Image by Sophie Steiner/It’s

A porridge of milk, corn flour, rose water and sugar forms the base of Ashtaliah (35 RMB)a Lebanese pudding with a delicate flanked texture, topped with crushed pistachios, a drizzle of syrup and a scoop of mango ice cream.

Image by Sophie Steiner/It’s

Speaking of ice cream, Eli Falafel makes his own on-site, ranging from caramel, mango, and pistachio to chocolate, milk, and strawberry. Hang anything from a Single spoon (RMB28) to the Combination of six flavors (RMB98).

More similar to Turkish ice cream, heaped scoops are more chewy, stretchy and deliciously velvety.

Image by Sophie Steiner/It’s

Image by Sophie Steiner/It’s

The drinks side of the menu emphasizes fresh flavors, with fruity selections, such as the Soursop Gimlet (RMB58) – made with Beefeater gin, lemon, amontillado sherry and soursop puree – and their version of a Boulevardier (RMB58) – featuring coffee whiskey, Campari, sweet vermouth and aromatic cardamom bitters.

Non-alcoholic offers, such as the PassionMate (RMB68) with passion fruit syrup, hibiscus tea and mate tea, are equally refreshing.

The atmosphere

Nestled in the hustle and bustle of the Bund, this bustling spot is awash with working lunch crowds, especially on sunny days. The welcoming ambience coupled with the sunny disposition of the servers makes it attractive for families, dates and get-togethers.

WechatIMG4941.jpegImage courtesy of Eli Falafel

Image by Sophie Steiner/It’s

And, while Lujiazui Eli’s expanded menu is available in both Pudong and Puxi (and is as good as a meal at – trust us – we’ve tested it), it’s hard to tell. beat a sunny patio lunch, especially if it’s homemade. the ice is in question.

Oh, and don’t think the Eli Empire expansion ends here; plans are already underway for the fourth outpost in the Portman Ritz Carlton on Nanjing Xi Lu, which is scheduled to open in August.

Price: RMB75-225
Who go: The expat community from the Middle East – and more specifically – from Lebanon, Lujiazui lunches, families looking to please the whole crew
Good for: Falafel cravings, healthy lunches, grilled meat consumption

See a listing for Eli Falafel Pudong.

Read more Shanghai restaurant reviews.

[Cover image by Sophie Steiner/That’s]

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