Year of the Ox Recap: New Restaurant & Bar Openings – G-K

By Sophie Steiner, January 29, 2022

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And so we bid adieu to the Year of the Ox – a wild ride of high highs and low lows. Yet, the show must go on, and that means enjoying it in the way we know best – through good food and and plenty of drink. Here is an A to Z recap of some of the major restaurants and bars that had the tenacity to open as China's borders remained closed. See Part I herePart II here, Part IV here, Part V here and Part VI here.

Gula

Another wine bar to open, Gula is a wine bar for families – two concepts not usually put together; dogs are allowed inside the busy space; the wine program is pretty lax; the menu is even looser, described as Chinese fusion yet seemingly lacking the Chinese side of said fusion; the logo is a cartoon puppy; and the name means gluttony. Phew.

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It's busy, possibly due to one of the owner's KOL status, possibly due to ephemeral hype and possibly because some people are into this place's vibes. You can be the judge as to which category you fall in.

Read a full review here. See a listing for Gula Bistro

Halu

The first floor of craft cocktail lounge Ars & Delecto has been transformed into modern Korean bistro, Halu – the second outpost of this K-Town favorite. Situated along the leafy Jinxian Lu amidst many local restaurants, the space feels familiar and welcoming, even for first time visitors.

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In collaboration with Halu owner Joonsam Park and Chef Rosie, the team culled down the menu to a simple one-pager of Korean fried chicken, stews, kimchis, fried jeon (savory pancakes), seafood dishes and street fare like tteokboki and gimbap, that are best experienced with a post-dinner nightcap of Korean seasonal-inspired sippers on the second floor.  

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The old school Korean rap and hip hop that reverberates from the speakers, coupled with brimming bowls of boiling pork and seafood soups, dishes of assorted kimchi and gochujang-laced plates, adds to the eccentric ramen and soju lined walls.

The juxtaposition between trendy, casual Korean bistro and art deco-inspired cocktail lounge somehow works. The two seemingly opposite components amalgamate into a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. Plus, the calorie to kuai conversion rate is on point, if you ask us. 

Read a full review hereSee a listing for Halu.

Huma

At Huma, the fresh, clean ingredients found in Southern Yunnan cooking are easily recognizable in every dish. Veggies and herbs are no longer an afterthought, but rather one of the main focuses. 

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Designed by Tom Yu Studio, the same architect that put Bloom on the design map, Huma joins the long list of whimsical spaces decked out by this originally London-based designer, once part of Heatherwick Studio. 

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The restaurant’s main dishes involve Yunnan-style noodles in all forms, plus Yunnan-style pickled and grilled proteins.

Read a full review here. See a listing for Huma

Hundo

Climb the stairs of the 20 Donghu Lu villa, leaving behind ‘mini France’ in the form of Cellar to Table and Blaz, and you enter the dimly lit Hundo – where you’re instantly transported out of Shanghai and into a bustling yakitori joint in the heart of Tokyo. 

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Your field of vision takes in a dark wooden bar lined with chefs scoring sashimi, slicing steaks and serving sake and shochu, all while the aroma of roasting snapper, charred chicken skin and a hint of yuzu fill your nostrils – the authenticity makes you feel like you should be paying in Japanese yen.

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The warming atmosphere is emphasized by the overly friendly staff and controlled chaos within the open kitchen. Here you see dozens of skewers, holding every part of a chicken you could possibly think of (and even some you can’t) roasting on an open binchotan charcoal-grill flame.  

Although much larger than Justin Xu’s previous projects (Nakama – now closed because of landlord issues and reborn from the ashes like a phoenix as High Yaki), because the space is split into two main rooms and further sectioned off with private alcove-like seating, the feeling of exclusivity still remains. 

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The menu spans sashimi, cold and hot bites, charcoal grilled dishes, yakitori, kushiage (deep-fried skewers), tempura, yakiniku (grilled meat) and rice. It sounds like a lot, but as most are small dishes or skewers, you can do some serious damage with just two people. 

From mastering the basics to rewarding the adventurous, Hundo is the dream destination for a Tokyo getaway that costs far less than a plane ticket.

Read a full review hereSee a listing for Hundo.

Jar Bar

Gosia Modlinska – one of the co-founders of Pierogi Ladies – spun off with her own concept this year, rebranding as Jar Bar, a cocktail bar with Eastern European food. While she still offers pierogis, the focus is more on Polish mains that could get you through a Slavic winter, driven mainly by recipes from her grandma. 

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Given the name, it’s no surprise that there are lots of things in jars, spurred from Gosia’s jarring obsessions. Expect to find all manner of pickling vegetables, fermenting produce and infusing alcohols and vinegars.

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The spaces boasts a backpacker hostel atmosphere – twinkling string lights hung about, maps adorning the walls – dumping and pickle world maps to be more specific – travel books stacked on shelves, jars filled with all matter of this and that, board games, off-centered framed photos of cooking class attendees and a free roaming cat, making friends with all the patrons. It’s all very unpretentious, DIY and welcoming.

See a listing for Jar Bar.

Juke

Juke, a neighborhood eatery headed by popup master and chef Michael Janczewski (previously of Canton Disco in Shanghai and Ho Lee Fook and Michelin-star Belon in Hong Kong) and Sebastien Dallee (previously of Heritage by MadisonItalo/Funka Group), opened early December in the old Pirata digs on Dongping Lu.

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The 18-seater serves a tight menu of neo bistro fare that focuses on Mediterranean flavors with an Asian twist.

Juke – coming from the old English word meaning ‘to trick’ or ‘fake out’ – rings true in the playful nature of the menu.

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In other words, expect the unexpected: a lashing of smoky olive oil, pickled celtuce ribbons, clarified tomato and butter water, mapo tofu gravy, hand-ground polenta, miso paste hidden beneath layers of caramel and dots of activated charcoal spiked with kumquat, to name a few.

Bites aim to deceive the senses and change the notion of what you may assume. 

Fusion is a card trick that has long been overplayed, but when you’re holding a royal flush, you play to win. Juke’s menu is the royal flush in this metaphor. 

Read a full review hereSee a listing for Juke

Kaisha

The sister venue to SuzuKaisha auspiciously opened on August 8 in Shankang Li. The space is divided into two parts – the front, known as West, is a casual cocktail restaurant, while the back, named Higashi (meaning 'East' in Japanese), is a classic Japanese cocktail bar.

Not the kind stacked with suit-clad salarymen pounding sake and skewers after a long day at the business factory, mind you, but a high-end, perfectly curated experience bar, where you are acquiescingly forking over all the yen in your wallet for another drink.  

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Barmen Tomo Shinoda and Naoki Toyodome are behind West’s cocktail menu, made up of classics with a twist (divided into tasting cues like sweet, strong, sour or hot) plus a world tour menu where drinkers can choose which city they’d like to ‘visit’ and receive a beverage representing said location. 

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Meanwhile, Shunojo Iyuda and Kohei Yoshimura have designed an international cuisine menu, drawing on Shunojo’s experiences working in both San Francisco and Sicily. The menu is eclectic, plates – and sometimes even bites – jumping between Asia and Europe. Yet, it works, and fully compliments the cocktail drinking vibe. 

Read a full review here and hereSee a listing for Kaisha

Khan Chacha

Step off the 8th floor elevator of Parkson Mall and you’ll find yourself greeted with a steaming, frothy glass of chai at Khan Chacha – a contemporary Indian and Middle Eastern restaurant that opened its second Shanghai location this past February. We eagerly took our seats at the new space – ready to indulge in the recently released updated menu with seasonal favorites – and left hours later beyond satisfied.

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Peruse the sprawling menu of dishes that span New Delhi in the north to Kerala in the South to Tamil Nadu in the east to Rajasthan in the west. Northern style buttered curries sit adjacent southern versions redolent with mustard seeds. A modern-day interpretation of French-style Duck Confit Vindaloo is casually placed alongside Lucknowi Biryani, a Mughal legend. 

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Founder and chef Jibin Arjunan jumps further west to the Middle East, with dishes inspired by Iranian, Pakistani and Turkish cuisine. If you’re overwhelmed, just close your eyes and point to the menu – after trying over half of it, we found you really can’t go wrong. 

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Aromatic pods of cardamom, Iranian saffron, European vanilla and dried rose flavor everything from basmati rice to milk-mustache forming lassis to treacly desserts. 

Read a full review hereSee listings for Khan Chacha.

Klay

Arguably one of the biggest openings of the year, chef Hardeep Somal’s Klay, a contemporary Indian restaurant serving small plates and highballs inspired by the many ingredients and spices that run through India’s underbelly, has been packed since day one. 

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The bistro-esque venue is decked out in contemporary art by crative design agency The Orange Blowfish, with displays of abstract art and hanging woven lanterns. 

Like what’s happened with contemporary Indian restaurants in other foodie cities like London and Singapore, Hardeep aims to show Shanghai what Indian food can really be. 

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Since opening, the menu has expanded from reinterpretations of Indian favorites to include lunch and brunch offerings as well. 

Read a full interview here. See a listing for Klay.


To read the full Year of the Ox New Restaurant & Bar Openings Recap click here or scan the QR code:

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