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Pretty in pink
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With an abundance of pink cocktails, melt-in-your-mouth Blondie brownies and pink-mayonnaise-frosted burgers, I can't help but wonder how Barbie manages to keep such a perfect form as I scan the menu of the newly-opened Barbie Caf on Huaihai Road M.

Catchy selections like the pink Barbie Tini, Fashionista Salad and Shanghai Lynn Taro Gelato are a good match for the novel aesthetic that is sure to please any Barbie-lover like me or my girlfriends, who grew up playing with the dolls.

Designed by Mattel Barbie and David Laris of Laris fame, the cafe is housed in a black, white and pink room tiled with zebra-like stripes. The designers said they mimicked the herringbone swimsuit worn by Barbie on her grand debut in 1959.

The blonde's model figure is also something the caf's head chef Tessa Thompson from New York City keeps in mind before conjuring up new dishes, always asking herself: "What does Barbie want to eat? How does she incorporate a healthy, balanced diet into her lifestyle?" This has somehow resulted in waistline-expanding classic American favorites like spaghetti and meatballs (55 yuan) and chicken wings (25 yuan).

But if you don't mind indulging anyway, the Barbie burger (60 yuan) is a good choice. Topped off with fries and salad, the stacked-high beef cut with aioli mayo and pink beetroot is well worth the calories.

Pair your selection with the Bubblelicious cocktail (55 yuan). A mix of strawberry syrup, sprite, lime, and Boca liquor, it is a sweet way to fully enjoy your meal. For something a little more tropical, order the Barbie Tini (55 yuan), made with Malibu liquor, pineapple, orange and lime juices.

Complete your experience with a Blondie Brownie (45 yuan). This warm, gooey, white brownie is a sumptuous bite of heaven. Add a scoop of gelato for another 10 yuan.

Though the cuisine is oriented towards Western tastes, Thompson says she is trying to attract a larger Chinese demographic. The sweet flavor of the pan-roasted honey cod dish (98 yuan) caters more to Shanghai people's tastes.

Wafer-thin waitresses in candy-covered aprons and pink-cuffed waiters in dark suits enhance the experience.

But despite all the trimmings, Barbie Caf comes across as little more than an overdressed American diner saturated in pink. Most definitely not a place for manly men, but die-hard Barbie fans, Shanghai shopaholics who need to take five, and tourists who will no doubt relish the experience.

Barbie Cafe

6F, 550 Huaihai Road M.


(China Daily August 6, 2009)

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