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May 17, 2020

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Comforting Polish fare served by ‘Pierogi Ladies’

PIEROGI Ladies is the first and only Polish restaurant-bar in town, offering traditional Eastern European comfort food and creative vodka-based cocktails with natural, in-house shrubs and syrups.

The place is hidden inside an alley on Jiaozhou Road, featuring a homey interior with feminine touches. The first part of the brand name is the Polish name for dumplings “Pierogi,” while the “Ladies” are the restaurant’s two founders — Joanna Boczek and Gosia Modlinska.

“We chose our location inside a classic Shanghainese lane so it perfectly presents our fusion brand that is based on Polish homemade foods and drinks but made in China, because this place gives a home-like feeling,” Modlinska said.

Polish cuisine has evolved over the centuries to become very eclectic due to its history. It also shares similarities with neighboring German, Czech, Slovak and Silesian culinary traditions. It has been widely influenced by other Central European cuisines. Polish-style cooking in other cultures is often referred to as a la polonaise.

Polish cuisine is very popular in the US and Europe so the two lady founders thought that it deserved to join Shanghai’s eclectic food and beverage scene.

Boczek’s family has always been in the food business and Joanna worked her way through all positions in the restaurant business. Modlinska comes from a family of farmers and used to spend a lot of time with her grandparents on their farms, learning about vegetables and how to pickle them. It is totally natural for them, with their hands-on knowledge, to create a brand representing Poland with every little detail.

The food menu combines Polish tradition with an international creative twist. The signature dish is pierogi — Polish dumplings — with several twists on the plates, such as peirogi with potatoes, cottage cheese and onions, quesadilla pierogi with chicken cheddar cheese, mushrooms and sun dried tomatoes. In total there are 14 kinds of pierogi to choose from, including vegetarian, vegan to meat and sweet.

“Many people are surprised that we also serve sweet dumplings or dumpling with fruit, as this is something customers have never tasted before. But this is so common in Poland — dumplings with strawberries, plums, blueberries and apples,” Modlinska said.

The restaurant has a lot of other things to offer, including juicy sausages, potato pancakes, hunter’s stew and soups all with a little bit of Polish soul.

“In order to educate people about the health benefits of Polish food, we prepared a section called ‘immunity boosters,’ which includes a mixed pickle plate, hunter’s stew, our soups and a beetroot dip. All of these meals are full of vitamins and help strengthen the immune system,” Modlinska said.

The healthy side is also reflected in the various drinks, such as the pickled cucumber juice and pickled beetroot juice that are full of natural probiotics.

When it comes to alcohol, they are famous for vodka-based cocktails. The team uses the highest-quality Polish vodka “Kazimierz Wielki” and black vodka “Caollo” to craft perfect concoctions. Vodka lovers will love this place — they have over 50 various flavors of vodka, both infused and imported.

The founders are not only willing to share their home food culture with people but collaborate with other young brands to provide support and bring everyone’s attention to the causes they believe in, like sustainability, recycling and animal well-being.


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