Shanghai Restaurant Review: Pass Residence

By Cristina Ng, January 3, 2020

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The Place

We still remember being introduced to our first glass of orange wine at Oha Eatery on Anfu Lu. That was late 2017, when Shanghai’s natural wine culture was in its infancy, and using phrases like skin contact and volatile acidity to describe vino was a novelty. Wine Lips, RAC Bar, Vinism, Le Verre à Vin and Bird – in addition to the Oha Group – have all played a part in introducing these hip and funky wines to Shanghai. There are even natural wine festivals like Crush happening these days.

Italy is home to numerous winemakers who eschew additives in their wines, so the only surprise is that it has taken this long for a natural wine bar in Shanghai to pair with Italian food. Thanks to Pass Residence, Oha Group’s latest venture, that problem has been rectified. Located on Julu Lu, it’s a cafe by day and low lit atmospheric Italian wine bar by night.

The Food

As with the group’s other restaurants, the food is by chef Blake Thornley. Unlike Oha Eatery’s complex Guizhou-inspired small plates, or the mind-boggling chef’s table offerings at Table Black, Thornley’s approach to Italian food is pared down and almost traditional; there’s no tempeh or soy mint caramel here. The well-curated list includes the usual suspects – antipasti, pizza, greens on flatbread, pasta, risotto and dessert.

Image by Cristina Ng/That's

It’s a good idea to head to the temperature-controlled wine room before the antipasti hit the table. All three of our party were drawn to colorful 8-bit aliens on a canary yellow label reading Malbec Invaders (RMB380/bottle), so we followed our gut. It ended up being a lively bottle with berry notes, a supple mouthfeel and smooth tannins. The wine is an ideal foil to the bracingly bold flavors of Confit Mushrooms (RMB40) with garlic and balsamic vinegar or Marinated White Anchovies (RMB68).

Image by Cristina Ng/That's

Things stay minimal with the arrival of peppered Burrata (RMB72) showered in olive oil and balsamic vinegar that collects in a deliciously glistening puddle.The food is meant for sharing, and one pizza or pasta per person, plus antipasti and dessert, should be enough. Go heavy on the noodles, because they are amazing.


Images by Cristina Ng/That's

Case in point is the fresh streamers of Pappardelle (RMB78) with toothsome oxtail ragu and the gentle tang of semi-dried tomatoes. Braised Rabbit Ravioli (RMB68) and Potato Gnocchi with Black Cod, Zucchini and Parmesan Cream (RMB66) make for warm bellies and happy hearts.


Images by Cristina Ng/That's

It’s time to confess, we don’t like chicken on our pizza. So, while we appreciate the creativity of Herb Roasted Chicken (RMB88), caramelized onions, olives and feta on a pie, the Heirloom Margherita (RMB68) or Salami with Spiced Tomato (RMB82) are fine by us. 

Leafy greens on warm puffs of rosemary flatbread are even better. The easy combination of Wild Mushrooms and Bitter Rocket (RMB55) dressed in vinaigrette with generous shavings of parmesan cheese is a solid choice.

They get adequate use out of the wood-fired oven by throwing Chocolate Brownies (RMB60) in for dessert. Think flattened chocolate fondant topped with decadent vanilla Chantilly cream. There’s also a coffee liqueur laced Tiramisu (RMB68) worth ordering.

Food Verdict: 2/3

The Vibe

Image by Cristina Ng/That's

Pass Residence radiates city cool; being present makes you feel like someone in the know. Traces left behind by previous inhabitants Sumo Cat have resulted in exposed concrete walls dotted with half removed graffiti drawings. Piles of wood are both practical – for the oven – and decorative, creating a rustic counterpoint the urban vibe. Pockets of light interspersed with shadows create intimacy without the need for physical barriers. You know when you need that ideal date spot that seems like you tried, but not too much? This is that place. 

Vibe Verdict: 2/2

Total Verdict: 4/5

Price: RMB200-350 per person
Who's going: artists, lovers, natural winos
Good for: afternoon coffee sessions, dates, small groups

[Cover image by Cristina Ng/That's]

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