We’ve been eagerly anticipating the opening of Together since we heard that Bina Yu (former head chef at CHI-Q) and Kim Melvin (head pastry chef at The Commune Social) had plans for a new place with design firm Neri&Hu and their regular partners Unlisted Collection.
The venue fits comfortably into tree-lined Yuyuan Lu with clean, minimal brickwork that echoes the older buildings nearby. At night, warm glowing light shows off a full room of diners through a floor to ceiling window, beckoning passersby to take a peek inside.
Dishes at Together are meant for sharing and two people will be more than satisfied with a few starters and a couple of mains and sides. Highlights of the menu are in the starters section, so we’d recommend ordering more of those.
The Australian beef tartare (RMB138) has the boldest flavors thanks to the tangy and spicy kimchi with rich egg yolk and a bit of mustard.
The mochi tofu (RMB68) was the surprise hit of our meal with a chewy outside texture enhanced by piquant flavors of a sesame sauce with lemon and soy, topped by Parmesan crisps to mimic the texture of cheese.
Curling octopus tentacles (RMB118) are coated in sweet and spicy gochujang with fire-kissed crunchy crumbs.
The mains are available in one or two portions, with a side accompanying each. Tournedos pork with pepperoncini sauce (RMB128/small, RMB248/large) is a perfect round of meat with even lean and fat ratio, brightened by the pungent sauce. The succulently grilled salmon with ume miso glaze (RMB158/308) is a total umami bomb with a burst of acidity from the preserved plum.
Spicy seafood bouillabaisse (RMB168/325) is the only dish we wanted more innovation from. Here Chef Yu could sway even further from the classic Provençal fish stew and we’d like it more.
For sides, the asparagus with pickled red onions, black sesame and paper-thin mushrooms is a nice complement to the proteins, while the gorgeous roast pumpkin could stand on its own as a vegetarian main. The outside is blackened enough for a nice smoky flavor while the flesh is almost custardy in softness. Pumpkin seeds add crunch while the green olive puree balances the sweetness.
Pastry queen Kim Melvin’s desserts are all about the ice cream and a rustic collection of cakes (RMB35) laid out on a central table. For us the salted caramel ice cream with bruleed banana (RMB38) comes out slightly ahead of an interesting combination of apple sorbet, goat cheese and honeycomb.
Frozen treats come in single (RMB38) or six-person (RMB148) sharing portions.
Food Verdict: 2.5/3
There is nothing better than a chef set free to indulge her culinary passions and that is exactly what Bina Yu is doing at Together. While her food was always top notch at CHI-Q (foie gras bibimbap, we miss you), the talented chef is turning out well-executed French classics infused with Asian flavors in a way that is even more impressive.
The overall atmosphere is casual yet well thought out and the service, while overwhelmed by their current popularity, is earnest. Everyone is having a good time together, especially the diners.
Total Verdict: 4/5
Price: RMB300-500 per person
Who’s going: everyone you know
Good for: dinner with friends, date nights