The 14 Best New Shanghai Restaurants of 2019... So Far

By That's Shanghai, June 3, 2019

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Are you looking for dining inspiration? We've got you covered with this roundup of the best-rated restaurants that we've reviewed this year... so far. 

We have to say that it's been a pretty good start to 2019. We hope you enjoy visiting our new favorite restaurants. 

Happy eating!

Bistro Bonbon


Image by Cristina Ng/That's 

We first started hearing murmurs of a cozy new joint with small plates bearing the flavors of Taiwan about a year ago. Alas, before we got the chance to visit, they closed. It seems their popularity overran the original Bistro Bonbon’s size. Now relocated within Julu 758 in a slightly larger space, the restaurant is back serving up the greatest hits of the island’s cuisine.

These recipes come straight from proprietor Jason Tsai’s mother. While Mama Tsai isn’t a professional chef, her methods (executed by local chefs) certainly make for a lovely meal.

Standout Dish: Taiwanese fried chicken with basil (top left); braised trotters

See listing for Bistro Bonbon


Botanik


Image by Cristina Ng/That's

Within the quiet recesses of Jianguo Zhong Lu’s Taikang Terrace, perched above The Plump Oyster, there’s an open-air restaurant helmed by executive chef Elijah Holland. Botanik is defined by a seasonally-influenced, ever-changing tasting menu focused on local products, many of which are grown in the garden surrounding the dining area. Holland is also an avid forager, and the group’s chefs and bartenders often take to the great outdoors to go ‘grocery shopping.’

The beverage program is an equally original compilation of organic, natural and sustainable wines, as well as gin-based cocktails that allow Zander Bostoff and Julia Markina to play with botanicals harvested on-site. The latter notably just won The GREAT Gin Mixologist Competition, so you know you’re in good hands.

Standout dish: mushroom and jujube charcuterie (above); sprouted coconut heart

See listing for Botanik


C Pearl


Image by Cristina Ng/That's

This seafood-focused venue is also brought to you by the group behind Osteria and The Plump Oyster. Australian forager and group executive chef Elijah Holland's passion for house-made items is evident in the charcuterie platters and bread baked from freshly milled flour. You can also expect herb-forward gin and tonics from the garden he planted at their open-air pop-up restaurant, Botanik.

With several more concepts in the works, Holland is a busy guy, so chef de cuisine Joshua Moroney is executing elevated surf and turf with a from-scratch ethos at the Pudong Century Link Tower location. 

Standout dish: handmade shells with sea urchin, mushrooms and salmon roe (above); house-made charcuterie

See listing for C Pearl


Hao Jiu Hao Cai Chicken Company


Image by Cristina Ng/That's 

We have never, ever gone to Found 158 looking for Chinese food, but the long, long lines at Hao Jiu Hao Cai Chicken Company could not be ignored. The signature dish, gai bo (chicken pot) is the reason they wait. All the rage about four years ago in Hong Kong, this Cantonese take on a Sichuan number starts as a casserole in a thick and complex caramel brown gravy. Here, the closely guarded secret sauce tastes of doubanjiang (Sichuan spicy soybean paste), mellowed with oyster sauce, soy sauce and chu hou paste. There are visible chunks of ginger and green cardamom pods, an unmistakable Sichuan peppercorn tingle, and fragrant hints of star anise, cinnamon and fennel, suggesting five-spice powder.

Next, the server scoops in more secret sauce and pours in chicken broth for part two of the meal, where typical hot pot ingredients such as beef balls (RMB68), frozen tofu (RMB12), winter melon (RMB12) and lotus root (RMB16) are poached in the stock.

Standout dish: that winner of a chicken dinner (above) 

See listing for Hao Jiu Hao Cai Chicken Company


HIYA


Image by Cristina Ng/That's

One of three restaurants in The Shanghai EDITION, HIYA is modeled after Chef Jason Atherton’s now defunct London-based restaurant, Sosharu. Like its predecessor, HIYA is a Japanese-style gastropub designed by Neri&Hu. In Shanghai, the kitchen is helmed by Christopher Pitts who previously worked with Atherton as the chef at Table No. 1. 

It might be confusing to read the words ‘izakaya,’ ‘gastropub,’ and ‘Japanese’ and then walk into HIYA. Instead of over-worked salarymen knocking back a few drinks after a long day at the office, you will find a stylish, well-heeled crowd enjoying a good time over fancy cocktails and beautifully presented dishes, while documenting the entire experience with countless selfies and foodporn shots for their Insta-Stories.

Before you dismiss it out of hand for being too hip, the two-page menu featuring sashimi, chilled dishes, 'temacos' (taco plus maki), hibachi and dessert puts the precision of the kitchen on full display. 

Standout dish: slow-cooked pork shoulder, roasted pineapple and pickled chili 'temacos' (above)

See listing for HIYA


Ifuku Isaribi


Image courtesy of Ifuku Isaribi

Ifuku Isaribi in Plaza 66 is yet another indication that the mall dining train is not slowing down anytime soon. Retaining the most popular dishes from Ifuku in Xintiandi, the company’s second opening is a higher-end robata-ya (grilled meat restaurant) sourcing premium Wagyu, black pork, chicken and more directly from Japan.

Head chef and namesake, Ifuku comes from Miyazaki Prefecture in Kyushu, where he was born into a family of fishermen. It was there he learned ichiyaboshi – techniques for salting and drying seafood overnight – from his grandmother. Once cured, the proteins are prepared on traditional charcoal grills. 

Standout dish: overnight-dried chicken (above); grilled Wagyu; beef tongue

See listing for Ifuku Isaribi


Jin Hua


Image courtesy of Jin Hua

The previous occupant of this space, Café Daliah, combined classic Austrian fare with the artistic streak of the eponymous proprietor. In addition to pretty decent schnitzels, the restaurant was well known for an indoor slide and hosting art exhibitions, LGBTQ+ events, fashion shows and animal adoption days. Occupying a special place in the community, it was understandable that we received some panicked messages when construction of Jin Hua was underway.

Turns out that Daliah was teaming up with some friends, including Niu Yun (of Slurp! and Pilipala), to transform her café into a Yunnan concept.

Standout dish: roast tilapia (above); Dai spiced burger 

See listing for Jin Hua


Karaiya Spice House


Image by Cristina Ng/That's

After years of running successful Japanese restaurants Haiku, Hatsune and Kagen, the owners have turned their attention to an elegant take on the fiery flavors of Hunan at Karaiya Spice House.

Already open in Beijing, the Shanghai outpost also offers spicy dishes with an emphasis on high-quality ingredients, and what they call ‘Western-style’ presentation (although the dishes still look Chinese).

Standout dish: two-color chili fish (above)

See listing for Karaiya Spice House


Ministry of Crab


Image by Cristina Ng/That's

After months of renovation, Barbarossa has recently unveiled a new look to their famous People’s Park location and introduced a brand new concept to the mix. Occupying the first floor of their Arabian-style building, Ministry of Crab – one of the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants from Colombo, Sri Lanka – is now serving their famously large crustaceans in a variety of ways. If you’ve been struggling to find high-quality seafood that is comically large, you’re in luck.

Chef Dharshan Munidasa helms the original crab lovers’ haven. For the award-winning restaurant’s first venture outside Sri Lanka, they’ve sent over Chef Vimukthi, who’s worked with Munidasa for years, to oversee the kitchen.

Standout dish: black pepper crab, garlic chili prawn (above)

See listing for Ministry of Crab


Open Kitchen by Hunter Gatherer

Image by Cristina Ng/That's

Healthy eating concept Hunter Gatherer has come a long way since opening their first (now shuttered) location on Anfu Lu in 2014. In addition to the DIY canteen-style bowls, they’ve now added more composed options like ‘Back to Cali’ and ‘Smokehouse BBQ’ that continue to balance protein, carbs and veggies in a delicious manner. 

Continuing in this vein, Open Kitchen presents a collection of small bites and mains befitting a much fancier restaurant like Thought for Food, where Hunter Gatherer’s executive chef Alexander Bitterling previously worked. 

Standout dish: spiced beef kebabs with pesto dip (above), grilled mackeral with beetroot barley

See listing for Open Kitchen by Hunter Gatherer


Phoenix Sushi


Image by Cristina Ng/That's

You might wonder how this omakase joint, led by a chef from Anhui, has become so popular. First of all, Chef Dong has worked in Japanese restaurants since 2003, most notably as an apprentice at Kenji Naramoto’s eponymous upscale sushi restaurant on Yongjia Lu. The other reason is that the most expensive set at Sushi Phoenix costs just RMB398, which is a bargain compared to similar establishments around town.

Standout dish: the nigiri sushi courses

See image for Phoenix Sushi


The Pig Pocket


Image by Cristina Ng/That's

Previously located in a small alley off of Fuxing Zhong Lu, The Pig Pocket was a hidden gem where Taiwan-born chef Sophie Huang and her affable Hong Kong-born business partner Eva Lee quietly served a selection of pork-based plates at surprisingly good prices.

When we heard that this hole-in-the-wall was vacating its 12-seat space, it seemed like terrible news. After trekking out to Yangpu district to check out their new Daxue Lu digs and greatly expanded menu, we see this move in a much more positive light.

Standout dish: TPP signature pork chop

See listing for The Pig Pocket


Polux by Paul Pairet


Image by Cristina Ng/That's

Shanghai diners get pretty excited when Paul Pairet opens a new concept, and Polux is no exception. That might have something to do with the accolades his restaurants have received over the years, the most recent being Ultraviolet’s three Michelin stars and a sixth spot finish in Asia’s Best 50 Restaurants 2019

Moving inland from The Bund, Pairet’s latest Xintiandi venture serves pared-down French classics all day long, covering breakfast, lunch, weekend brunch, afternoon tea and dinner. The cooking combines rustic, traditional influences from Pairet’s The Chop Chop Club (now closed) with the modern creativity of Mr & Mrs Bund

Standout dish: French onion soup, raspberries essential 

See listing for Polux by Paul Pairet


Rye & Co


Image by Cristina Ng/That's

After hitting the mark twice in a row with The Nest and The Cannery, the team behind these venues mixed things up this year by adding a bakery to their portfolio. Like most openings these days, Rye & Co is located in a mall, and in this case it’s the new Xintiandi Plaza.

Consisting of two separate spaces (a café and a bar), Rye & Co ticks off most of your daily needs. Downstairs expect ‘grains for goodness’ in the form of baked goods, Danish open-faced sandwiches and larger mains such as (not quite) Swedish meatballs, pasta and mussels.The counterpoint to all this wholesomeness (read: booze) is available on the second floor (informally nicknamed ‘High on Rye’).

Standout dish: various smorrebrod, pumpkin on toast (above)

See listing for Rye & Co 

[Cover image by Cristina Ng/That's]


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