Sometimes Thrifty WoAi

Shanghai is becoming more expensive at an alarming rate. I’ve never, for example, been a huge fan of Wagas, because 50 RMB for a sandwich plus say, 34 RMB for a drink, makes for a rather expensive lunch in my book (that’s about US$13 ). And that was before they decided to remove the bread and salad they used to give with their pasta dishes and charge an extra 12 RMB if you still want the salad. That’s effectively more than a 25% increase overnight!

But this is still China which means there are always going to be lower cost alternatives available as not everyone is on a nicely padded expat package, and I certainly am not!

Raw green pepper, yum!

So here’s my first recommendation for those who want to rein in their spending. Bacon and egg sandwiches at Paris Baguette – at just 18 RMB they’re less than half the price of a Wagas or Element Fresh sandwich, and once I removed the raw green pepper, it tasted perfectly fine!

This is half of what you get (already eaten the other half)

Hot WoAi tip – after you remove the raw green pepper, bring it home with you and stir fry it with some beef for a lovely evening meal!

I know everyone thinks I live a very extravagant lifestyle and that’s because I mainly post the highlights and rarely post about spending a night at home eating cup noodles and watching CCTV9, even though that is what I do most evenings. After all, that WoAi retirement plan isn’t going to fund itself!

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30 Responses to Sometimes Thrifty WoAi

  1. T. says:

    Cheap, decent sandwiches in Shanghai? One word: Sarnies:

    But I usually go to Pantry by the Co-op which is the closest thing to Pret-A-Manger in Shanghai.

  2. WoAi says:

    @T – Where is Pantry by the Co-op? The problem with sandwiches is that the location needs to be within 5 minutes of the office. I’ve actually been doing Subway quite a lot because if you choose their daily special it’s just 15 RMB for a 6 inch (you can always get two for 30 RMB) compared to 25 RMB if you choose off the menu.

    I know some places deliver but it’s not always the same as going out for a walk and picking up a sandwich. ie you need to plan!

  3. I came here just to recommend Sarnies! They opened a new branch near People’s Square as well (, which I believe would be closer to WoAi. I recommend the Hilton Clash (chicken, bacon, egg, and salad on whole wheat) for 15RMB, pretty much my favourite sandwich in Shanghai, and the mango, banana, and pineapple juice for 16RMB. Assuming they haven’t put their prices up following their obvious success in branching out.

    The sandwiches at the Pantry are from Trenchers, who have a lot of the fillings you’d be used to from home. Menu:

  4. Oh yeah, I noticed the lack of side salad with the pasta at Wagas, too. They used to have 33rmb pasta there from 6pm on, but now it’s 41, with no side salad, and they still call it a ‘special’. In other rip off news, Element Fresh has raised their breakfast set prices from around 65RMB to 88RMB. It’s gone from an acceptable price for average food to overpriced, and that’s not counting the 50RMB smoothies.

  5. WoAi says:

    @Bananaundercover – Yes, that was a very sneaky move from Wagas. Why not just put the price up! Those pasta deals were very attractive as you say, not so much now. I am not sure EF breakfast has gone up by as much as that, but I invested in a blender and now make my smoothies at home and they taste just as good but cost about 5 RMB to make each time. They have a sandwich for 98 RMB. That must be one hell of a sandwich!

  6. anthony says:

    Woai you should start a sandwich shop ! lol

    what would be “the Woai sandwich” ?

  7. wisemanofasia says:

    It all sounded so believable until you said the bit about CCTV9, we all know that no one in their right mind watches that!

  8. WoAi says:

    @Bananaundercover – THIS is why I love having a blog. That Sarnies looks like it’s within my catchment area. I sometimes go to the Turkish place close by there. Will definitely check it out soon. I’ve ordered from Trenchers before. My English friend described it as “service station sandwiches”.

    @Anthony – The WoAi sandwich is myself and two sexy models, but I don’t have that too often!

    @Wiseman – Damn. I thought that might be too much, but “watching the porn channel” seemed a bit to honest!

  9. anthony says:

    @wisemanofasia – not all of us, some of us aren’t
    that wise . lol

  10. T. says:

    Pantry by the Co-op is on Nanyang Lu just behind Plaza 66. Where all those handmade shoe stores are. I think Trenchers is better than service station sandwiches.

    You can also try Sandwich Express which I think is also pretty reasonable.

  11. Wang says:

    Nosh ( has good sandwiches and they deliver for free. It’s not in the same price range as Paris Baguette but it’s foreign owned and I believe they use quality ingredients.

  12. WoAi says:

    @T – That’s so weird. Why are ALL the sandwich places on that road! Yes, I agree Trenchers are better than service station sandwiches. Sandwich express looks interesting – the BLT looks gouda! Seems like I’m having sandwiches for the foreseeable future!

    @Wang – NOSH looks great and I’ve known about them for a while, but their delivery zone is ridiculously small. I’m by Nanjing East which is very central but it’s still outside their delivery zone. Very poor! They said they would NEVER use Sherpas to help them deliver as well, but guess what? Yes, they use Sherpas, so I will try one day.

  13. T. says:

    There are places which do expensive sandwiches which I do think are kind of worth it. Those places are not Element Fresh thought. NYC Deli is the best of these (now that the much missed City Deli is closed) and Urban Soup Kitchen is pretty decent too.

  14. WoAi says:

    @T – I live right by NYC Deli so I do get sandwiches from them sometimes, but usually delivery which means I need to meet their minimum charge. Their sandwiches are almost TOO generously filled I can’t eat one without it getting very messy.

    USK looks good but again, not in my catchment area. Will try delivery sometime.

  15. @WoAi, sadly, Element Fresh has gone up by that much. I went to the Donghu/Huaihai branch a few weeks ago, and was so digusted I walked out and ended up having a very pleasant brunch at Dakota instead.

    In my opinion, Nosh does a pretty good job, though weirdly one of the stand out things is the side salad that comes with the lunch set (it’s huge, and even has chickpeas in it). I live just near Yongkang Lu so I get to try all of the new French-run operations there. It’s worth a stroll if you’re in the area some weekend, and I do recommend trying the fish and chips at The Sailors (also the Catch fish and chips is supposed to be great, but about 3 times the price).

    USK is good if you get the sets, but I feel like they could do better on both sandwiches and soups. I like NYC as well, but their prices have gone up lately too (whose haven’t?). If you’re going to be in the higher price range anyway, I’d prefer to go with iiiit! on Guangdong Lu ( – lots of flash and really slow to load, sadly).

  16. chengdusticksguy says:

    You guys get “Sandwiches”? Wow . . . cant even get french fries here on a Friday night from good ol Dicos.

  17. IC says:

    Some reports indicated that Beijing and Shanghai have GPD per capita at developed nation level and life expectancy at 81.

  18. anthony says:

    @Woai – classic !! – lol

  19. mjk says:

    Besides the hefty price hike, Element Fresh also took out the free flow coffee from the breakfast deals. 20 RMB more AND from free flow to no drink at all, at least here in Beijing!

  20. anthony says:

    @Woai – dont worry woai, if times get really tough
    just put a paypal donate button on your page
    and we your loyal blog readers will help you out – lol

  21. Hopfrog says:

    “spending a night at home eating cup noodles”, “that is what I do most evenings”

    Have you had your blood pressure checked recently? Seriously old boy, those things are loaded with sodium and if you eat them often without diluting them with a lot of water your blood pressure is going to be elevated at your age. I’m the same age as you so I am not trying to get a dig in, just recommending you get your BP checked.

  22. Lil bro says:

    @ hopfrog – I think Woai is one step ahead of you. I notice each time he has cup noodles he adds water to them. This must be to counter the high salt content. Very clever ;-)

  23. T. says:

    I’m just reminding myself to mention that the sandwiches at Starbucks aren’t all that bad – and especially compared to coffee there – very reasonably priced. I think the tuna sandwich is 15 – and the all day breakfast is 18. Also, addicting, but probably very bad for you is the beef and cheese croissant. Not french by any means, but a yummy breakfast when in the Guangzhou airport.

  24. Hopfrog says:

    @Lb, good to hear, I do the same. I eat a lot of ramen myself, not because I am cheap, but because I love the taste and they are easy. Once I past 40 I found out my BP was high and since then have started doing things like diluting my noodles and avoiding added salt to things.

    Long story short, I was able to bring my BP down this way so that is why I wanted to point it out. As an aside, I highly recommend the noodles from Pando out of South Korea, no preservatives or MSG or a bunch of ingredients you can’t read and they taste great.

  25. WoAi says:

    @Hopfrog – Thanks for your concern. My blood pressure is high but only because it’s summer in Shanghai and the girls wear next to nothing. This is how I eat my instant noodles:


    @T – Starbucks? Have you gone completely mad?

    @Anthony – That’s a very desperate measure but it might come to that!

    @mjk – Thanks for that update, I didn’t know. But I always have English Breakfast tea so I didn’t notice.

    @IC – Yes, I always say SH and BJ are not the real China. Certainly the cost of living here is on par with any other major world city.

    @Chengdusticksguy – Stop moaning, there are other benefits of living in the Chengdu sticks.

    @Bananaundercover – Really? You stormed out because of the prices? Well done! Yes, Dakota is pretty good but too dark for brunch.

  26. T. says:

    Nope. Go try a starbucks tuna sandwich. If it isn’t worth 15 rmb, I’ll refund your money. Also, Will Ferrell is just copying from the Jackie Chan scene where he eats the instant noodles raw and then drinks the boiling water.

  27. WoAi says:

    @T – Ok. Their muffins are actually quite decent. Yeah, I don’t care where it’s from just thought it was a nice link to the direction the discussion was going. I’ll tell my Ayi to make something more nutritious for dinner tonight.

  28. Hopfrog says:

    @WoAi, Infinitely more amusing than some banal observation about noodles requiring water.

  29. WoAi says:

    @Hopfrog – I often do step 5 first to work up an appetite!

  30. mjk says:

    @WoAi, English Breakfast tea is also no longer included at Element Fresh. In the past you could chose between coffee or tea, but now they took out all the drinks from the breakfast set menu, so you have to order separately, which adds another RMB 30+. Overall, a meal which used to cost RMB65 is now up to RMB 105 at least.

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