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Quality Sarnies and Munchiesat prices we all can afford

CHARGING just 8 yuan (US$1.17) for a sandwich, the new sandwich and salad shop "Sarnies" is laying claim to making one of the cheapest Western meals in the city.

Budget dining and Western food used to be mutually exclusive concepts in Shanghai but in the past year several low-cost eateries have popped up to appeal to diners looking for a bargain in the economic downturn.

Sarnies is a good example of the new business model. Tucked into a tiny space under a stairwell on Nanyang Road at the back of the Shanghai Center, this cheeky competitor aims to keep its overheads to a minimum.

Its most expensive sandwich at 18 yuan is the aptly named "Big Rig" that comes laden with smoked chicken and ham. All sandwiches are made fresh to order.

Sandwiches range from the grilled veggie sandwich, packed with roasted peppers, for just 8 yuan to a "Hilton Clash" that's stuffed with grilled bacon, chicken breast and egg. It is also served with sauerkraut, cucumber, tomato and lettuce.

The sandwiches taste like the homemade variety with fresh ingredients that are organic where possible. They also avoid the pitfalls that plague other Shanghai sandwich offerings. There is no sugary sweet bread °?-°? diners get a choice of white or brown bread - and mayonnaise is homemade and used sparingly. Salad dressings also come on the side.

The salads range from 8 yuan for a basic garden salad to 18 yuan for the "Animal Farm."

This barnyard beast is a real conundrum. Smoked chicken breast grated cheese, apple, peach and cherry tomatoes are partnered with iceberg lettuce and then mysteriously finished off with a liberal sprinkling of cornflakes. Somehow it all works but it stretches the definition of breakfast cereal.

With a range of freshly squeezed juices for between 6 yuan and 10 yuan, one can get a sandwich and lunch for under 20 yuan, an attractive option for the neighborhood office crowd in Jing'an District.

Sarnies, which is a British term for a sandwich, is the brain child of Hou Zhiheng, who says the tiny sandwich shops aims to provide healthy food that is value for money.

"What we aim to do is to bring to our customers value, tasty and most importantly healthy food," he says.

"We do so in plain, down-to-earth ways without the fuss and pretense of haute cuisine and delicatessens, nor in ways that are en-masse and homogenous in taste like the big chains of fast food outlets."

Also making their mark in budget dining is Munchies, an American-style burger bar on Wuding Road.

Husband and wife team Isis and Jason Jones have attracted a devoted following since Munchies opened almost a year ago.

Burgers come in at between 30 yuan and 42 yuan with complimentary side orders of fries, pasta, fruit or potato salad, or cole slaw. Its cheapest meal is a 24 yuan BLT that also comes with a side dish.

American classics such as Cincinnati chilli and hot dogs styles from cities around the US make sure Munchies' Grateful Dead soundtrack and Thai-dyed T-shirts won't be the only thing making American diners nostalgic.

The couple is taking their winning restaurant recipe to Luwan District and on July 20 opens their second Munchies outlet on Shunchang Road near Xintiandi.

The new Munchies, backing onto a food court, will be predominately a delivery outpost with a small bar with four stools fronting onto the street.

Like Sarnies that has free delivery, Munchies predominately uses its own staff as delivery drivers, bypassing many of the delivery services that charge anywhere from 15 yuan to more than 40 yuan per delivery.

The new outlet will cover deliveries in much of Luwan and Xuhui districts. Munchies offers free delivery within 1 kilometer of the shop and charges 5 yuan up to 3km and 10 yuan for up to 5km distance from the shop.

Both Sarnies and Munchies have also set their sights on not just the fickle expat market but have hit a price point that can also attract Chinese diners.

"What it comes down to is locals love fast food, it's very simple, they get it and go, and they want it cheap," Jones says.

"Shanghai is changing, there is an increasing interest in Western food and if you go to KFC or McDonald's they are packed. I can provide a meal for around 36 yuan, so for about 10 yuan difference you get a fresh-cooked meal either served to your table or to your door, in some cases for free."


Address: 123 Nanyang Rd

Tel: 6217-5223

Munchies Jing'an

Address: 974 Wuding Rd

Tel: 6218-4616

Munchies Luwan

Address: 563 Shunchang Rd

Tel: 6311-3616


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