I'd call this my favorite cafe in Shanghai although I haven't tried some of the other top recommended 'Western' cafes. It's true that when you go overseas, you might not think there's much point in getting anything that resembles what you eat back home.
Having said that... it's not always the case. Whenever I go back to Shanghai, especially for long trips, I find that at some point I'll develop cravings for things I eat/do in Australia. This might be anything from a simple, well-made coffee to kebabs or steaks.
On a previous trip, I was so frustrated at not being able to find 'true' Australian-style steak. Sure, lots of new Shanghai restaurants claim to make a steak that caters for Western people but I find that I can always tell that maybe the chef is still Chinese or that the cut of meat is wrong.
Whilst I still haven't found a proper steakhouse, I have pinned this cafe as genuine Western. I go to the Wagas on Huai Hai Rd. The menu is all in English and the selections and daily specials are akin to what I'd find when picking lunch in the Brisbane CBD.There is a lovely selection of healthy paninis, focassias, fresh salad, pasta, daily soup specials etc. Of course it's not like me to miss the fact that Wagas also has a gorgeous selection of cakes and sweets.
The coffee is well-made and they also have a range of juices to chose from. From my experience, the staff are efficient, friendly, professional in appearance and are also English-speaking.
The most recent time I visited Wagas was with my mother. We ordered a chicken and yogurt salad panini to share plus 2 coffees (skinny latte is my regular pick and she had a cappucino on this occasion).
The panini was quite large and the filling was fresh with wonderful flavors. I also thought it was quite a healthy choice because it was flavored with yogurt rather than mayonaisse (which is the norm for chicken sandwiches). Our panini came with an side of chickpea and bean salad. Ultimate guilt-free meal.
I love that Wagas offers a selection of English language magazines targeting the ex-pat and foreign student population in Shanghai. This is because I like exporing the Western pubs, stores, clubs and restaurants in China as much as the local Shanghainese hang-outs. I'm making a habit of going to Wagas on my first day back to grab a magazine and scout 'must-go' places for Western-background Shanghai residents(and there is quite a significant number of these folks!)