5 Fresh Fall Menus Worth Checking Out in Shanghai

By Sophie Steiner, September 17, 2020

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As you depart for your Golden Week adventures, take solace in the fact that upon your return, the Shanghai food and beverage scene will welcome you back with open arms. As quickly as the leaves turn and the temperature drop, new Fall menus pop up across the city. They say everything slows down in winter, but at this rate, the Shanghai F&B scene is on fire. So strap in and get ready for the first round of Fall menu favorites. 

Charcohol 

Charcohol is a gastrolounge that specializes in craft cocktails and global cuisine. Chef Mandela Zhu spearheads a menu that embodies the restaurant’s concept, cooking food over a charcoal grill. Acclaimed mixologist Choni Song is the latest addition to the core team, spurring the most recent iteration of the drinks menu that features more than 20 totally new specialty cocktails.

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Nothing screams fall like Smoked Pigeon (RMB198) and truffles. The bird is dehydrated for three days before being smoked, resulting in an uber-gamey, earthy flavor that melds expertly with the liver puree and 80% cacao sauce that it’s presented with. The glistening skin is shatteringly crispy, a stark contrast to the buttery flesh that awaits underneath. 

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The Scallops and Sea Urchin Rice Bowl (RMB288) is an elevated late-night naughty eats bowl of velvety perfection, only amplified by the smoked egg yolk. The dab of wasabi and high-grade Japanese soy sauce help to cut through the fatty richness, while the fermented sea salt provides a necessary pop of funk. 

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When a restaurant’s dessert lineup can stand up to the mains, that’s always a good sign for sweet tooths like us. The Goat’s Milk Creme Bavaroise (RMB68) does all that and then some with an unexpected pairing of tart cherry ice cream with spicy ginger beetroot sauce. The creaminess of the goat milk and basil jelly along with the bitter yet citrusy hit from the candied orange peel cover more flavors than we thought possible in one lip-smacking bite. 

Italo 

As the latest concept by the Funka Group, Italo is a casual, chic Italian restaurant and lounge bar serving up authentic Italian favorites and cocktails. With a focus on combining locally-sourced and imported premium ingredients, Italo’s Rome-native chef Gonzo creates delicious Italian dishes with a modern twist. 

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Like something straight out of science class, a large glass syphon filled with an opaque brick red broth on the bottom and every kind of crustacean under the sea on the top is served tableside in the form of Syphon Cacciucco Soup (RMB198). When the beaker comes to a boil, the broth moves up the syphon, filling the top chamber while simultaneously cooking the seafood. A bit gimmicky, yet obnoxiously tasty, we will now take all of our seafood with a side of a science. 

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Fall comfort food is all about those savory stewed meats, best consumed while wearing cable knit sweaters and fluffy socks. The Sous Vide Iberico Pork Cheek (RMB198) is just that while simultaneously acting as an ode to the Italian flag — a thick stripe of piquillo pepper red hugging both a cilantro green stripe and ginger sauce white stripe — all perched atop an equally meaty wild porcini confit. While we found a few new menu items that miss the mark a bit, there are many big wins worth sampling. 

Dodu

Dodu is a French-owned rotisserie restaurant, specializing in certified ‘Label Rouge’ hormone-, steroid- and antibiotic-free yellow chickens raised on a free-range farm in Zhejiang. Dodu was also the first restaurant in China to be awarded the Best Chicken Award by the NGO Compassion In World Farming, and it truly shows in nearly every chicken dish on their menu. After culling down the menu and focusing on the best of the best, owner and chef Hugo Mondragon now offers other hearty meat options, like pancetta and roast beef, alongside his award-winning chicken. 

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Other French favorites include the Croque Madame Sandwich (RMB58), the ultimate yolk porn atop hearty toasted bread and a thick layer of Emmental cheese. The tangy addition of mustard provides a necessary contrast to the richness of the rest of the sando. Comment dit-on ‘drool-worthy’ en français?

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The Chicken and Avocado Tartine (RMB48) (ka the fancy French way of saying what all us boring English speakers call avo toast) gets an extra hit of protein in two forms — a thick shmear of homemade chicken rillette on the bottom and shredded juicy chicken on top — that deserves its spot on nearly every dish on the menu.

Heritage by Madison 

At award-winning chef Austin Hu’s latest endeavor, Heritage by Madison, the name gives away the concept. The titular heritage in question is the chef’s own reflection on his time spent in China, the US, and Japan. While the dinner menu sees a few new dishes added every two to three weeks, the brunch menu is more seasonally focused. The most updated brunch version is the perfect marriage of sweet and savory meets naughty and nice.

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Pure brunch joy is found in the form of Soft Scrambled Eggs (RMB78), served with succulent diamond clams that burst into a wave of ocean umami as you bite into them, spicy chorizo, and tingling, citrusy Sichuan peppercorn. The whole dish is velvety soft but served with sesame toast for that necessary crunch. 

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Chicken and waffles date back to the Dutch colonists of Pennsylvania in the late 1800s enjoying a post-church Sunday meal. They’ve come a long way since then, but still serve as a beloved brunch favorite. Hu’s take on Chicken ‘HK’ Waffles (RMB98) couldn’t be further from the original, with laoganma excessively drizzled across thickly breaded and fried chicken thigh, all perched atop the crispest Hong Kong-style cornbread egg waffle. Honey butter adds that extra bit of gluttony, along with a hint of sweetness.

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While most sweet brunch items lend themselves best to the “sharing is caring” motto, within the first bite of the Banana French Toast (RMB88), the power of your taste buds will surely triumph over your humanity, causing you to fight off the rest of your fellow diners with knives and forks until every last crumb has been consumed. A cloud-like pillow of brioche is soaked in cream and spices before being toasted and topped with freshly sliced bananas, lotus cookie crumbles, banana crème and miso caramel — a copious amount of sugar that realistically should push this dish onto a dessert menu rather than a breakfast one. 

Homeslice 

The moment we’ve all be waiting for: Homeslice is expanding its empire yet again, and branching out with a new location in Jing’an along Kangding Lu. Not only does this mean that a wider radius of Shanghai can now enjoy New York-style pizza more easily, but it also greatly increases their delivery zone, which means more pizza for everyone! 

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They are currently rocking their newly launched fall menu, including big hitters like Danyi Gao’s take on Vietnam meets ‘za in the form of a Bun Cha pizza (RMB35/slice). As the owner of Bun Cha Cha in Lippo Plaza, she brings her take on this Hanoi classic and throws it on top of a Homeslice white sauce base. Think lemongrass pork patties, shreds of quick-pickled carrots and daikon radish, and a liberal sprinkling of shiso, mint, cilantro and Thai basil, all a surprisingly scrumptious match for melty mozz.

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The White Pepperoni (RMB30/slice) is proof positive that simple is always better, as this was our favorite pizza of the new lineup. With a name that really says it all — loads of pepperoni on top of a parmesan cream base — the pie is only amplified by a parmesan crust, first introduced with the Double Cheese Costco Pizza. 

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For the veg lovers out there, the Ratatouille Pizza (RMB30/slice) is fall on a crust; roasted red peppers, eggplant, zucchini and onion are seasoned with thyme and baked into our favorite tomato sauce base. For a bolder alternative, the Potato and Blue Cheese Pizza (RMB30/slice) is a mix of roasted baby potatoes, sweet caramelized onions, pungent Danish blue cheese and a spicy tomato sauce; a pie that definitely delivers on being more than the sum of its parts.


[Cover image by Sophie Steiner/That's]

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