Restaurant Review: Bikini

What: A soft core dining experience

Where: 47 Yongfu Lu, near Fuxing Lu. Tel: 6433 6511

Why: You’re hungry for a sexually-charged snack

Few expat chefs can boast the kind of success Spanish-born Guillermo Trullás Moreno has had. Proprietor of el Willy (which is scheduled to close on 4 February), he’s also the man behind the highly acclaimed el Cóctel. To ease the pain of the shuttered el Willy, Moreno is tiding us over with the recent release of his cookbook and a new Bund 22 location opening this month, as well as the launch of a quirky, new sandwich concept – Bikini. The small joint is located downstairs from el Cóctel and delivers upscale fast food to partygoers along the popular Yongfu Lu strip.

Named after a 70s Barcelona discotheque famous for its sandwiches, Bikini serves up a selection of “Snackies” and “Very Hot Dogs”. Furnished with only four tables, the cosy space suggests that Willy is doing something simple and pared down. The self-proclaimed “sexy chef” takes on a 70s theme with an adult film motif – complete with vintage soft core posters on the wall and menu items named after famous porn stars. In anatomically suggestive fashion, the hot-pressed sandwiches are named for the divas, the hot dogs for the studs. Mr Jeremy, anyone?

While the dishes are made for a casual dining experience, the use of quality, imported produce and a sophisticated combination of ingredients make for a refined take on snacking. Choosing from a selection of six hot dogs, we first sampled the Mr Vidal (RMB 45) drizzled in a sour and spicy medley of ketchup and lime-mayo, crispy shallots, diced tomatoes, fresh basil and piquant jalapenos. Served in between the folds of a crispy baguette, the savoury wiener delivers a hearty juiciness that immediately distinguishes this from your run-of-the-mill hot dog. Similarly, the choripàn picantón (RMB 58), a large, spicy beef chorizo, boasts even bolder flavours that’ll have you licking the zesty chimichurri sauce off your fingertips.

The Miss Staller (RMB 58) on the other hand left us a little underwhelmed. While there is no doubt about the quality of the mozzarella, Italian ham, arugula and truffle oil pressed in between the thin slices of toasted bread, the small portions didn’t allow the flavours to come through, reducing the dish to little more than your standard grilled cheese sandwich. Looking to revitalise our palates, we sampled the Antipasto (RMB 98) from the G-rated list of “Snackies”. The marinated artichoke with lemon juice, pickled onions, sour capers and the sweet and spicy peppers garnished with creamy feta cheese won us over with its fiesta of Mediterranean flavours.

While Bikini is currently only set as a late night establishment to capitalise on the drunk munchies of el Cóctel patrons and compensate for a shortage in manpower, they are pushing for lunch hours as well. With its Spanish-influenced fast foods, this gourmet grab-and-go would be a delectable choice for a quick lunch or a savoury snack prior to a Yongfu Lu bender.

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