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May 10, 2020

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Lucky Mart’s purr-fect highball and konbini

LUCKY Mart is a funky new “watering hole” on Fumin Road and the latest neighborhood highball bar and “konbini” (Japanese convenience store).

The “daji” lucky cat (beckoning cat) logo is a welcoming sight to approaching visitors who can enjoy a cheap, cheerful, casual space, with a whisky highball and izakaya-esque snacks daily from 3pm to 4am.

The bar is a collaboration between restaurateur Camden Hauge and the multi-disciplinary design studio Wolfbelly, who wanted to create a fun, friendly neighborhood space and brand, featuring their favorite sessionable cocktail.

Although the partners love the classic minimalism of Japanese neighborhood bars, arduous afternoons of drinking demands a distraction. And there is no better way of keeping guests entertained than bringing funky konbini culture to the Shanghai scene.

The convenience store offers an interesting look into contemporary Japanese culture. Here, at this tiny space, shelves are stocked with various Japanese snacks and a fridge full of Japanese liquors.

“Especially during these hard times, we think everyone could do with a fun release,” Hauge said. “Highballs are a low-alcohol, sessionable classic drink that gives us room to play between a classic Japanese izakaya concept and a cool take on cult convenience store culture. Konbini food is tasty and easy, and helps soak up an evening of drinking.”

To ensure the vibe stays easy and the drinks are of high quality, the partners approached Dawn Cianci, a former manager of The Odd Couple, for advice because she’s a general Japanese bar scene veteran.

The fan favorite is likely to be their super friendly-priced house whiskey highball, made with Japanese ice plus bubbles from their environmentally-friendly soda gun, at only 35 yuan.

A clear pricing system separates shelves of ascending quality whiskies. You can stick to the lower shelves for wallet-friendly options or jump to the top to find some rare or vintage-level pours. Prices range from 58 to 88 yuan. There are other classics like the mizuwari (ice in the glass, whiskey in the glass, then top off with water), oyuwari (shochu mixed with hot water), and shochu hai (shochu based highball)

To accompany these easy sips, the food is classic konbini. Food people in Japan eat at convenience stores, where the quality is high compared to their contemporary stores around the rest of the world, for example onigiri or sandos. Lucky Mart adds a fun little twist to dishes, like making an okinomiyaki hot dog or personalizing your usual order of instant ramen.

They also offer great izakaya staples like fried chicken, beef tongue cubes to dip in shichimi-spiced (spicy Japanese seasoning blend) kewpie mayo. These delicious snacks will definitely sustain those who like to drink till late.

Lucky Mart is one of the city’s rare reliably late-night options — and it plans to do more collaborations with other Japanese-esque food pop-up businesses in the future. Watch this space.


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