top of page

Black Salt

27 May 2023

Black salt, for those not in the know, is a pungent smelling, pinkish – grey colored salt used extensively in Indian cuisine. Low in sodium and rich in minerals, it’s said to stimulate the liver, help control heartburn and reduce bloating. Just the ticket for some of the more grizzled members of the OCC.

Great name for a restaurant too. And a very popular one at that. Located on a buzzing (and recently pedestrianized) stretch of Daxue Lu, Black Salt was packed when we visited on a balmy Saturday evening in May.

Fortunately for us, Jules (former ringleader of OCC splinter group the “OOC”) was in full Zhongguo tong mode and managed to snag us a coveted outdoor spot on the terrace - a decent sized area out front, shaded by trees and sectioned off by a small wall, but close enough to the main drag to feel the Saturday night energy. All very good, which helped earn a none-too-shabby score of 8.1 for atmosphere.

For those less fortunate, the inside of the restaurant has a clean, modern vibe to it – nothing overtly Indian about the place, but also fairly inoffensive (NFT-artwork notwithstanding).

But we were the lucky ones. After a collective “this will do nicely”, beers were ordered and attention shifted to the menu.

Ah yes…the menu.

Brushing aside the rather disconcerting picture of a cat next to the word ‘meat’, it was quickly clear Black Salt hopes to offer something for everyone. Not a problem for the OCC – we adopt an openminded philosophy, and if diners want to enjoy a little sirloin fettucine with their chicken tikka masala, more power to them. Some classics were on offer – butter chicken, masala lamb chops, paneer tikka – along with some Indo-Chinese offerings such as Manchurian lotus root.

But first things first. Important business to attend to in the form of another chutney challenger. With Bazmati’s departure on the horizon, pretenders have been circling like vultures – this time in the form of an award-winning mixologist.

It was lucky we brought chutneys with us as the restaurant had none to offer. We found them equally lacking in the poppadom department but were excited to find ‘Indian chips with chickpea and avocado puree’ on the menu. What could this be? A little chana masala? Paired with a refreshing avocado raita perhaps? And what about the Indian chips – a little mound of mini poppadoms?

Nope. Tortilla chips with guacamole and hummus. Seriously. Anyway, moving on…

The rest of the dishes were solid, albeit not spectacular. The samosas were crisp, but with a surprising sweetness about them. The chicken tikka was soft and tender, the paneer tikka masala earthy and fragrant, and the butter chicken felt rich and indulgent, but this also had a similarly unexpected (and slightly unwelcome) sweetness. Spice levels were on the low side too, suggesting dishes had clearly been tweaked for a Shanghainese palate. There’s no problem with that, and it clearly draws in the punters. But it meant dishes weren’t necessarily to OCC members’ tastes, nor were they very varied, leading to a rather underwhelming quality score of 6.7. (For what it’s worth, the guacamole was excellent).

Food prices were generally reasonable, even if portion sizes were smaller than expected, but drinks were a little steep. Initial excitement at the 28 CNY beers quickly subsided as we discovered they were in fact halves. OCC members clearly think there’s better value to be had elsewhere and awarded a distinctly sub-par 6.4 for value.

Service was middling but this is forgivable. The waiting staff were clearly stretched on such a busy evening, meaning orders took a little longer than we would have liked. Unfortunately, this led to dry glasses in some cases – too much for certain OCC members to bear - which in turn led to a less than stellar service score of 6.6.

As several members wryly pointed out, a restaurant being too busy isn’t a problem we usually have to contend with. Nor is Black Salt typical of the restaurants we usually visit. Yes, the menu is on the limited side, and yes, the dishes have been adapted for the local market, but there’s clearly a market for both.

The Black Salt team did their best to accommodate us and make us feel welcome, which was reflected with a solid 7.1 for customer care, leading to an overall score of 7.0, meaning they are OCC Approved.

Customer care 7.1

Service 6.6

Value 6.4

Quality 6.7

Atmosphere 8.1

Overall 7.0


OCC Core Competencies








Customer Care







bottom of page