They say imitation is the highest form of flattery. In which case, Moka Bro’s must be honoured. The Nali Patio café has, shall we say, heavily influenced Tribe, a new eatery right around the corner on Gongti Dong Lu. On looks alone, the place feels very similar, with its bleached wood, hip interior and empowering slogans. The menu also gives more than a nod to Moka with its hip and healthy stylings.
That being said, Tribe also has it’s own strong points and, while the influence of Moka is undeniable, it’s by no means a pale imitation. In fact, Tribe perhaps takes the healthy living concept even further. Squeaky-clean, all-natural eats are what this place is all about. Everything on the menu (worked up by Brandon Trowbridge, originally from Ritan Park mainstay Nola) is demarcated with a ‘glossary of goodness’, an array symbols that identify which items boost your metabolism, are gluten free, probiotic, and so on. None of the mains have less than three.
They are setting their standards high here, but they back it up with plenty of creativity. Take the juices, for example. Trowbridge pairs beetroot and carrot with spicy ginger (38RMB), and fennel and daikon with sweet pear and grapes (38RMB). The juices are pre-prepared and stored in glass bottles, so there’s no waiting around for your health fix. Same goes for the cold-press ‘Tribe Coffee’ (58RMB), an organic brew gently seasoned with cardamom and orange in a cup big enough for two.
The menu is long but stays within the bounds of traditional café fare; salads, sandwiches and noodle bowls. That being said, they do a lot of interesting things with each dish and take influences from all over the world: from the Middle East in a bowl of complex Israeli lentils drizzled with shaved fennel and creamy spiced yogurt (48RMB); from Korea in a hearty bulgogi beef wrap with mozzarella and kale (65RMB). We love their take on a grilled cheese sandwich (45RMB), which adds grilled mushrooms and kale in an envelope of fantastic seven-grain bread. We couldn’t get enough of it – quite literally. The food is good but portions aren’t enough to satisfy stomachs for the price. That’s certainly one way to lose weight, but not one we’re on board with.If you fall off the health wagon, there are cakes and cookies by the register. The flourless fondant (18RMB) is the best of the lot with its heavenly gooey centre but the rest aren’t really good enough to cheat on the diet for. Stay with the healthy lunch options here and you can’t go wrong.