Year of the Ox Recap: New Restaurant & Bar Openings – Part S-Z

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 herePart III here, Part IV here and Part V here.

Spread

Spread, a sunny café bistro on the corner of Shaanxi Bei Lu and Wuding Lu is an ode to all things on toast – the French interpretation of it, known as a tartine, that is. It is one that has stood the test of time for more than 1,500 years. The menu is chalk-full of tartines, soups and salads, plus a smattering of charcuterie, cheese and wine. Experience a world of food through the humble lens of a piece of toast.

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Every dish on the menu has a story, an inspiration, an emotional connection to owner Guillaume Tu's life that serves a purpose. And that enthusiasm translates directly to the plate.

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The space has the best of the Jing’an neighborhood feels – energetic yet unpretentious, with all day sunlight streaming in from south-facing windows. The streamlined menu affords diners quick delivery of food, making it an ideal lunch joint – with the added bonus of seeing all the F&B industry movers and shakers. 

Read a full review hereSee a listing for Spread.

Suzie

Powerhouse restaurateur and wine aficionado Li Ze (OttimoSOiFtheWarehouse) is at again, with the recent launch of yet another modern French bistro – Suzie – next to the Capella Complex. The revamped lane house-cum-European wine bar is dedicated to all things Champagne and Burgundy, as well as some luxury Italian wines. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

A work of art, the wine menu is compiled by in-house sommelier Yonex Zhang (OttimotheWarehous), who curated a prestigious 600-SKU portfolio, heavy on the Grand Crus – the highest and most well-respected wine classification within the appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC), the governing board over the wines produced in Burgundy and Alsace, France.

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Full-time chef Freddy Raoult (The Nest, menu design for SOiF) is behind the traditional French menu, an indulgent smattering of lux buzz word ingredients – oysters, caviar, truffle, foie gras and wagyu – as if Shanghai would allow it any other way. 

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The assortment of high-end French fare is elegant in its simplicity – minimal on amount of ingredients, with an emphasis on the quality of those that are used. 

The devil is in the details, and Suzie – a fictitious maître d' that the restaurant is named after – has got all the nuts and bolts sorted. White tablecloths, Baccarat flatware, bedazzled chandeliers and globular stemware all packaged in a warmly lit, European neighborhood-esque bistro.

Read a full review hereSee a listing for Suzie. 

Tacos El Paisa

Tacos El Paisa, situated just outside La Mezcaleria’s wooden door, serves just one thing – tacos. They are identifiably half-moon in shape, sit snugly in one hand and are filled with a multitude of smoky, flame-licked meats – dripping with fat and stewing juices – a sprinkling of crunchy, diced onions and a few sprigs of cilantro adorn the top. Even better, they are open late. Like satisfy-your-taco-craving-at-2am late.

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

In the name of the salsa, the queso and the holy chili, we praise you taco gods for this offering. 

Like a drive-through taco joint on the street, there is no real distinction between the kitchen and seating area of Tacos El Paisa, the taco 'bar' that serves as a the middle man between La Mezcaleria, La Barra and for floaters that seep up the stairs from Bonica as the evening marches on into late-night.

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

It’s like a humble neighborhood taqueria, a bastion of comfort and delicious bites that seems to exist exactly at the moment you need a morsel – after a few sneakily strong mezcal libations.

The bites here are a superlative rendition of Mexican tacos – as if they are hiding a little, old Mexican grandma in the back of the kitchen, forcing her to pump out round after round of masa taco shells, spice-rubbed meats and salsas by the bucketful. We thank you, 'taco abuela,' for your services. 

Read a full review hereSee a listing for Tacos El Paisa.

Topgolf 

Topgolf is a global entertainment company that's well known for innovating the driving range experience by adding technology to the tees and quality food and drink options. This past summer, Topgolf opened its doors to China, with its first outpost in Shanghai. The second of which – a 12,000 square meters space in Chengdu, including a Chinese restaurant along with a premium steakhouse, seafood restaurant and all-day dining, among other options – will open this upcoming year. 

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Image courtesy of Lounge by Topgolf

The full-on entertainment and dining space features mini golf, private swing suites loaded with more than 80 golf courses around the world and other interactive sports games, Asian fusion meets pub grub designed by Danyi Gao (ShakeBun Cha ChaBlack Rock) and drinks by Colin Tait (ShakeBlack Rock).

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Image courtesy of Lounge by Topgolf

Outside of the sports entertainment, there is also a full restaurant and wine cellar plus VIP rooms with all sorts of gaming, pool tables and food and drink packages to choose from. 

See a listing for Lounge by Topgolf.

theWarehouse

Coming at you from Li Ze (OttimoSOiFSuzie), theWarehouse is another novel concept recently added to the team’s growing empire of locations. Located on Yongjia Lu, just below Ottimo in Surpass Court, this spot is actually a two-for-one, split across unit 217 and 312 for a distinct dine and sip experience in both. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The latter offers dimmed lighting, with a walk-in cellar and a large, dark wood table, providing diners with a ‘private chef’s table’-like experience, while the former is breezy and bright with countertop-lined walls and a circular central table bedecked with flowers and candles. 

But, theWarehouse is not necessarily a restaurant. In fact, as the name suggests, it’s a glorified warehouse. Think Beer Lady, but for wine and centrally located – hundreds of wine labels in a ‘factory décor’ retail setting, with charcuterie and nibbles for those choosing to drink-in rather than take away. It’s a bottle shop with a wine bar experience. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The food menu, curated by chef Freddy Raolt (The NestSOiF), is tight and modest, centering fully around – you guessed it – wine pairing.

Read a full review hereSee a listing for theWarehouse.

Will's Lobster

American chain wannabe, Will's Lobster, is a mini shop across from Pudao Wines in Shankang Li, with lines forming at all hours of the day. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Sporting the American classics with a lobster focus, you can sample anything from Maine to California lobster rolls, from lobster-topped hotdogs to lobster-sporting burgers. Chicago style ballpark dogs, Texas chili dogs and Louisiana spicy shrimp rolls are also on offer. 

There is no vibe, really. It’s a fast food shop with a grand total of nine seats. You order at a window, get your own water (or midday Asahi), sit outside, scarf down your meal, and get back to whatever else you need to do, all in under 15 minutes flat. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Get in, eat, get out; it’s efficient. Nothing wrong with that. But for our money, we’d spend it at any of the other 25+ food options within a 2-block radius. Except for the hotdog. That’s a wiener. 

Read a full review hereSee a listing for Will's Lobster. 

Wulu

A modern take on a traditional tea house, Wulu on Fenyang Lu provides a refreshing alternative to always grabbing a coffee or cocktail. Partners Ting Huang and Dinguo Zheng (Vege Wonder 山河万朵, a one Michelin-star restaurant in Beijing) offer guests everything from sparkling teas to nitrogen teas to cold-drip teas, along with Chinese fusion sharing dishes that highlight local ingredients in a bright, outdoor-like urban garden atmosphere. 


Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Wulu provides a relaxing environment for people to enjoy food, drinks and especially tea. It is a modern take on a tea house during daytime and a bistro at night. They have unique and interesting non-alcoholic teas, like nitrogen tea and sparkling tea, which act as the ideal alternative to highly caffeinated coffee drinks or alcoholic cocktails. The food is Chinese fusion, focusing on Shanghai local ingredients and flavors. 


Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Read a full review hereSee a listing for Wulu

Yugo Grill 

Late last winter, a new popup burger spot opened up late night on the corner of Shaanxi Bei Lu and Wuding Lu. Serving up Yugoslavian style burgers, grilled chicken and sausages to the late night crowd started to garner a pretty noteworthy following, and a few short months after, Yugo Grill opened up in their permanent brick and mortar shop on Kangding Lu in the old Lucky Diner spot. 

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Born out of a craving for home, the four partners – all hailing from the region of former Yugoslavia – combined their favorite recipes and resources and opened an 8-square-meter popup window shop. 

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pljeskavica – a Yugoslavian burger patty – is the national dish of Serbia, and the signature item on Yugo Grill's menu. From the three items that first graced the menu to the now full lineup of Yugoslavian favorites, bakery goods, coffee beverages and liquors, this spot has quickly become a haven for Eastern Europeans, burger lovers and party dwellers alike. 

Read a full review hereSee a listing for Yugo Grill.

Zodiac

Serial bar opener and mixologist Geo Valdivieso (UnicoUpThe Captain,The Broken DaggerKlay) is firing on all cylinders with the opening of his newest concept, Zodiac. The menu offers 12 cocktails, each named after a different star sign. A 13th ‘Placebo’ cocktail involves a DIY station where guests can enjoy their five minutes of bartender fame and design their own libation. 

Collaborating on the design front, hcreates brings together the layout and aesthetics of the interior design, while The Orange Blowfish covered nearly every inch of wall space with Baroque and Victorian period pieces painted over with contemporary symbols. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The menu is all about sparking conversations,” says Geo. “We are taking the classic first date question ‘What’s your sign?’ to the next level.” Mini horoscopes written by Shanghai’s go-to astrologer Alex Wang accompany each drink’s description, so you can simultaneously learn about your date’s personality alongside his or her flavor preferences. 

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The juxtaposing, satirical twists exemplify the overall feel of the space – it doesn’t take itself too seriously. When guests are allowed to play bartender, breaking the mixologist fourth wall; when drinks arrive in gimmicky vessels with overtly playful components; when cocktail choices are made based on birth charts and star alignment rather than ingredients, it’s all just fun and games. 

Read a full review here. See a listing for Zodiac.


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

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