Sober Company is Back! Award Winning Venue's Long-Awaited Return

By Sophie Steiner, November 13, 2023

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One of the most anticipated (re-)openings of the year, Sober Company is back full time.

Shanghai’s once top-rated bar (No. 5 bar on the 2021 Asia’s 50 Best Bar list), the much-celebrated venue shocked the city when it closed unexpectedly in June of 2022.

READ MORE: Sober Company Becomes 1st Big F&B Casualty of Shanghai Lockdown

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Owned by SG Club CEO and founder Shingo Gokan, the Japanese bar industry tycoon with venues in Tokyo, New York, Dubai and Shanghai (Speak Low, The Odd Couple), Sober Company originally opened in 2017 at 99 Yandang Lu, and consisted of three sections over three floors – Sober Cafe, Sober Kitchen and Japanese-style bar Sober Society.

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

It was a regular fixture on the Asia's 50 Best Bars and World's 50 Best Bars lists, appearing in Asia's 50 Best Bars for six consecutive years and World's 50 Best Bars for three consecutive years.

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

After much anticipation, the team was back at it this summer, with popups going on every Friday and Saturday evening from 7pm-2am at INS, in their old Yandang Lu 'hood.

And now they are back back, full time in INS, open every evening except Monday, with a handful of favorites from the previous food and cocktail menu, plus some much-anticipated newbies.

The revamped space’s biggest change comes with the addition of a first-floor sushi bar, upping the total number of concepts to four under one roof, progressing from lightest to heaviest, casual to swanky.

Count ‘em...

Sober Kissa

A coffee and tea cocktails-focused lounge that centers around a six-seater bar, with additional table seating and a raised platform for standing behind the bar (our new favorite people-watching spot).

Image courtesy of Sober Company

Expect easy-going sips like Hoji Highball (RMB85), Melon Ramos Fizz (RMB100), and Cold Brew Martini (RMB100), plus wine cocktails by Swrl and coffee cocktails from æ.

Sober Izakaya

The aforementioned sushi bar that is a nod to one of Shingo’s Tokyo outposts, The Bellwood.

With space for 15, it features a menu mainly of “global” temaki – or hand-rolls of Japanese red vinegar-marinated sushi rice, seafood and additional regional flavors hailing from each particular temaki’s namesake city.

Image courtesy of Sober Company

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Aside from being able to order Sober Kissa drinks here, there are also sake and wine pairing options. And at night the space gets lit (literally and figuratively), amplified by a life DJ booth situated just behind the sushi bar.

Sober Sakaba

A second-floor bistro with a more substantial menu of Western and Japanese fusion bites, as well as 10 classic cocktails with a twist – based on flavors and ingredients from different cities around Japan.

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Think an Uji matcha G&T aptly named Kyoto (RMB130); a Wagyu beef-topped Old Fashioned known as the Kobe (RMB130); or an Okinawa (RMB120) junglebird featuring turmeric-infused awamori – a local Okinawa shochu-like spirit.

Image courtesy of Sober Company


A hidden speakeasy (hence, the 'no photos allowed' policy) that you can only enter with a special token received after drinking at each of the three previously mentioned locales; exclusive and uber-sexy, it's the ultimate pinnacle of any visit to Sober Company.

Leading the charge on the venue is much of the same Sober team as before – including the famed management duo of Kazu and Xiao Shingo – as well as newly joined Head Chef Shunojo (previously of Kaisha). 

We worked our way through a smattering of sips and snacks. Here’s a sneak peek of what you can expect, mostly focusing on the newest addition of Sober Izakaya

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Tuna belly is dribbled with fish sauce, then adorned with torn mint and coriander as the Ho Chi Minh City (RMB80).

Pickled radish and garlic flowers create the multitude of herbs and spices that cover the five tastes – sour, sweet, salty, bitter and umami – an integral component of Vietnamese cuisine. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Red snapper is marinated in a raita yogurt sauce of mint, cucumber and garlic, plus fennel and lemon, a flavor profile that comprises the base of New Delhi (RMB65).

Sweet heat from curry spice and crunch from a sprinkling of fried lentils and chickpeas round out this chaat-meets-sushi roll combination.

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Sitting at the cross-section of taco and sushi hand roll, the Mexico City (RMB75) sees yellowtail paired with tomato salsa and pickled jalapeños, finished with crushed tortilla chips and cilantro micro greens. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Next, travel to Morocco’s Casablanca (RMB60) where mackerel is slathered in a creamy bessara paste – a thick reduction of a bessara stew that’s customarily made from fava beans, chickpeas, onions, garlic, and cumin.

Crushed pistachios – a cornerstone of Moroccan cuisine – adds texture, color and an earthy nuttiness. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Refreshing and light, a dollop of homemade sour cream crowns smoked salmon gravlax and a dill pesto as the Stockholm (RMB70).

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Less of a temaki and more of a spoon sweet, the Paris (only available as part of the below mentioned set) combines elements of a French Mont Blanc – with piped chestnut cream, mascarpone, sticky rice and buckwheat crisps. 

Each temaki roll is as diverse in flavor as the city it hails from, which is why Sober offers an Omakase Set (RMB280) that includes five temaki rolls – the Ho Chi Minh City, New Delhi, Mexico City, Casablanca, Stockholm – and a dessert – the Paris – with an option to add on a trio of sake pairings for an additional RMB150. 

Other noteworthy bites include...

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The Ohitashi (RMB45) – blanched seaweed steeped in a dashi soy broth topped with a tsukimi “full moon” egg yolk, with just a hint of truffle.

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Sober’s spin on buffalo hot wings, with the wings and flats swapped for slippery-yet-crunchy, collagen-filled chicken cartilage, or – as it’s known in Japanese – Buffalo Nankotsu (RMB65).

An alternative to blue cheese dipping sauce, a homemade cream cheese shmear is mixed with diced apples and celery, ideal for cooling down the tangy buffalo BBQ sauce. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Char siu pork, chicken thigh and chicken breast are folded inside the pleats of the Shiso Shumai (RMB75), steeped in a still-bubbling-when-served parmesan and cheddar cheese fondue. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Upstairs at Sober Sakaba, diners can sample more fusion-forward fare, like the Foie Gras Mapo Tofu (RMB165).

Much sweeter than what one finds in Sichuan, this version features chunks of buttery foie gras that mimic the texture of the soft tofu cubes.

Although bits of ground pork add texture, this dish could even be enjoyed by a denture-sporting shushu

DSC00080.jpgCheese Cake (RMB60), Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Onto the libations… 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

As the signature snack of Japan’s most food-obsessed city, Osaka (RMB120)’s inspiration is the takoyaki – a pancake-like batter molded into a ball and stuffed with diced octopus, pickled ginger and green onions. 

The drink itself takes the form of a partially clarified Bloody Mary, a BBQ’d octopus tentacle curling over the rim while bonito flakes wave back at guests, beckoning them in for another slurp. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

A clarified milk punch pina colada, the Kagoshima (RMB120) is winter in a glass, with demure undertones of sweet potato shochu and winter melon.

A swipe of white chocolate across the glass both resembles a dusting of snow while adding a lick of sweetness. 

DSC00049.jpgOita (RMB130), Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Since its official, full-time opening last month, Sober Company has been more than packed, a coveted seat being hard to come by.

But, as was the case at Sober’s old digs, the reward is worth the wait – with a guaranteed promise to patrons to ‘come sober, leave tipsy.’

Sober Company, F106, 109 Yandang Lu, by Nanchang Lu 雁荡路109号F101室, 近南昌路.

Read more Shanghai Bar Reviews.

[Cover Image by Sophie Steiner/That’s]

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