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May 9, 2021

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Unique Shanghai burger with a Balkan twist

IN the heart of Shanghai, on an unassuming street corner, you’ll find a window shop with many curious faces queuing up for a large-size burger.

Yet it’s not your typical burger. A bit exotic and a bit rustic, it’s traditional Yugoslavian “pljeskavica” (burger patty) widely beloved in Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, Macedonia and Montenegro.

Now Shanghai residents are seeing what all the fuss is about.

“You can’t find it anywhere in China,” said Vladimir Milosevic, one of the partners and a director of photography whose main job is shooting big commercials for clients like Porsche, Mercedes, UGG and Nike.

“I opened this Yugo Grill with my fellows from the Balkan nations because we crave eating pljeskavica and we missed it a lot here,” he said. “It’s normal thing in Serbia, but here, none is making it.”

The partners rented a hole-in-the-wall corner shop, opening three nights a week, with the former Yugoslavian crowds flocking in at the beginning and now attracting a mix of expats and locals for their authentic recipes.

“In Serbia it’s the way how we eat — no time to sit, you buy it, wait it on the street, go to work. And usually we eat it after clubbing when you’re tipsy and hungry,” Milosevic said.

The burger patty is the signature item on the compact menu. “We need three days to prepare meat before it goes over charcoal grill. It’s marinated for three times with special spices and prepared to be perfect ‘pljeskavica’.”

The meat patty contains a mixture of 90 percent beef chuck and 10 percent of pork for a balanced flavor and fat content. First-time customers are recommended to choose between the Not a Burger (a 200-gram patty) or the Gourmet Burger (a 250-gram patty together with cheddar, smoked bacon).

The difference between normal burger and their pljeskavica is that the meat has totally different structure.

“It’s more compact and it’s not falling apart. It’s delicious even if you eat alone without bread or toppings. For the toppings, we have spicy cheese, cream cheese, spicy sauce, all hand made and like nothing you tried before. Apart from that, there’s tomatoes, pickles, cabbage, green salad and onion for different tastes,” Milosevic said.

Other options here include beef sausages (cevapi), served in a pita with kajmak (a Serbian dairy food similar to clotted cream) and fresh onions.

The kajmak itself has a high percentage of milk fat with a thick, creamy consistency. It’s usually enjoyed as an appetizer or for Saturday morning breakfast, as Saturdays are market days with the best kajmak, but also as a condiment.

Yugo Grill is open on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 7pm until sold out. The team is also looking for a new spot offering more Yugoslavian recipes for Shanghai foodies.


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