Ballin' Out at 8 ½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana & Juke

By Sophie Steiner, December 3, 2023

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8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana 

An extension of the three Michelin Star venue (of the same name) in Hong Kong, Executive Chef Gabriele Delgrossi, along with Chef De Cuisine Nicoló Rotella, have together recreated the same lux, fine dining affair on the north Bund at two Michelin Star venue 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana, the That’s Shanghai 2022 Food & Drink Awards Restaurant of the Year.

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

And finally, the long-awaited return of the hottest chef’s table in town is back for the first time since COVID  an 'omakase' style, private dining experience for two, situated amidst all the action in the heart of the Bombana kitchen. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

While Shanghai is no stranger to the concept of a chef’s table, very few provide a full, unadulterated glimpse behind the curtain and into the chaos (or surprising lack thereof) that is the kitchen of a multi-Michelin starred-restaurant. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Instead of the frenetic mayhem of disarrayed cookeries glorified on beloved TV shows like The Bear, the Bombana kitchen is a choreographed symphony – with the prep counter acting as center stage – each of the 22-member chef’s team performing their conscribed role seamlessly. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

While there may be no actual music playing inside the kitchen, this magnum opus is a concerto punctuated by the whir of a whisk, the pierce of a knife, the tap of a spoon, the stir of a saucepan, the flicker of a stove – and it’s precisely within this ebb and flow rhythm that allows diners to feel as if they are – in fact – a part of the show itself. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

While we’ve been lucky enough to dine at 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana before, our first impression of the chef’s table is that of an entirely different experience – this is much more than just a meal, and one that warrants the RMB3,880 +10% service charge per person price tag (or RMB4,880 for the white truffle-based menu).

The 11-course lineup is comprised of a series of bites – or heaving mouthfuls – that showcase all that Bombana is about – plates that are at once nostalgic and innovative.  

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The meal begins with the immediate breaking down of the fourth wall, as Chef Gabriele provides a play-by-play of assembling the Chef’s Bite.

A carpaccio of bluefin tuna otoro – the fattiest (and choicest) part of the belly – is stacked atop a plush basil tigella – a crescent-shaped, typically meat-stuffed pita bread of sorts eaten in Emilia-Romagna – filled with a citrus sour cream foam. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

A quenelle of Superior Oscietra caviar crowns the top, before the entire bite is encased in glass and smoked with cherry wood.

Equal parts playful, indulgent and refreshing, this morsel sets the tone for what’s to come. 

Chef GabrieleImage by Sophie Steiner/That's

DSC02646.jpgTonno – Tuna carpaccio, aged tuna stock, white truffle. Image by Sophie Steiner/That’s

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The production continues with three week-dry aged Taiwanese shimaji, cooked in five second intervals between Japanese charcoal and ice as the Ricciola.

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The result is crisped skin yet supple, raw flesh, the charred aroma amplified by confit burnt orange cream, fennel pollen and lemon leaf oil.

The concentration of umami coupled with the fish’s steak-like texture (owed to the dry aging) lingers on the tongue, the antithesis of ephemeral.

DSC02737.jpgUovo – Marinated egg yolk confit, Jerusalem artichoke, cordyceps mushrooms, fresh white truffle. Image by Sophie Steiner/That’s

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The roster continues to weave through unconventional pairings, like a Sicilian almond cream-filled Ravioli, swimming in the most robust macerated and clarified aged leek consommé – one that coaxes a boldly herbaceous sweetness from this seemingly mild allium. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Perseus No.5 Oscietra sturgeon caviar lends peak acidity and salinity, rounding out the palate.

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Cauliflower, hazelnut and garlic all amplify the fistful of earthy overtones of freshly shaved white truffle that sheath a twirl of Tagliolini.

A (borderline excessive) ratio of 42 Japanese egg yolks to every kilo of flour is what proffers such a satisfyingly silky chew of the pasta, further slathered in unctuous truffle-infused Alps butter and parmigiano cream. 

One bite leaves diners speechless, while two requires a cigarette – the sensual experience rivaling a postcoital glow.

DSC02825.jpgLinguine – Artisanal ‘Senatore Cappelli’ pasta, sweet oyster and pine nut sauce, trout caviar, Taiwanese bottarga, pear. Image by Sophie Steiner/That’s

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Gently steamed Boston lobster is best savored when swiped down the middle of the two amber-hued sauces as the Astice.

First, cabbage is marinated for seven days before the juice is extracted and reduced down into a sticky molasses, while a lighter lobster consommé is steeped with star anise and butter, showcasing Chef Gabriele's dedication to deriving matchless flavors with fastidious care.

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

DSC02904.jpgManzo – Uruguay beef duo: short ribs and M9 tenderloin, fermented plum gel, marsala veal jus and aromatic herbs. Image by Sophie Steiner/That’s

DSC07828.jpgImage by Sophie Steiner/That's

The classic Sgroppino – arguably the most refreshing dessert there ever was – involves a tableside display of mashing lemon sorbet and vanilla ice cream together with grappa, homemade limoncello and champagne.

The result is a fluffy custard that is concurrently bright and tart yet lusciously whipped, speckled with shaved lemon rind. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

DSC02953.jpgAgrumi – blood orange and ginger gelato, verbena ganache, lemon leaves foam, lime meringue. Image by Sophie Steiner/That’s

The common thread that weaves its way throughout is how deftly diners can pick through each course and realize that – at every layer – it’s all about patience and awareness.

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

It’s less about what is physically on each plate – because Chef Gabriele is swapping out dishes daily, experimenting with new pairings, and featuring varying seasonal ingredients – and more about the cohesively designed experience as a whole, one that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking.

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Image courtesy of 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana

The chef’s table experience requires an advanced reservation, which can be made by calling 021 6087 2890.

8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana, 6-7/F, 169 Yuanmingyuan Lu, by Beijing Dong Lu 圆明园路169号6, 7楼, 近北京东路.


Neighborhood eatery Juke, headed by popup chef Michael Janczewski (Bastard), just launched a cold-weather centric menu in the same vein as their previous neo bistro fare.

And, because it’s Chef Michael, it’s no shocker that it features more of his playful signature style – Mediterranean flavors with an Asian spin. Bites still aim to deceive the senses and challenge assumptions.

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Case in point, the star of the menu – the Ricotta Ravioli (RMB98), an ostensibly humble plate of pasta that has Chef Michael written all over it.

Parmesan and ricotta ravioli are plated above a pumpkin mash, dribbled with a Sichuan peppercorn powder-laced sweet soy and chili oil sauce.

A marriage between pumpkin pie and Chengdu hongyou chaoshou, each plump dumpling is the glorious lovechild of the two, augmented by the textural crunch of toasted bread crumbs. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Inspired by Fujianese shacha niurou – or satay beef stir fry – the Beef Bites (RMB88) offer up a roughly chopped Wagyu tri-tip tartare, tossed in a shacha sauce with pickled long beans in place of gherkins, all topped with a marinated gailan – or Chinese broccoli – leaf.

But the kicker comes in the form of the shmaltzy base, a crispy piece of sourdough toast soaked in chicken jus that both literally and figuratively bursts with flavor (and smarmy, liquefied chicken fat) – lending body to the raw beef tartare in place of mayonnaise or egg yolk. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

A mainstay on the menu, the Straciatella (RMB88) – pulled shreds of mozzarella soaked in heavy cream, the choicest part of the 'Queen of Italian Cheeses' – sees seasonally rotating toppings.

This fall is all about the roasted sweet red pepper jam juxtaposed against citrusy marjoram and a liberal lashing of brown butter…because butter makes everything better.


Pro tip: Save some of the straciatella for smearing across one of the aforementioned dumplings – in the name of the pumpkin, the chili, and the holy ravioli, it’s a divine experience. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The quality of certain seafood in these colder months skyrockets, which is exactly how the Ikejime Snapper (RMB98) – a cold dish that still makes sense for winter, came to be.

This Japanese fish preparation (done in house, by the way) preserves the quality of the fish's flesh.

It is then paired with a whirlwind of accoutrement – a gasp of calamansi and ponzu, a crumble of fermented black bean, a shaving of orange skin, a dollop of Greek yogurt, and a drizzle of smoked olive oil. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Sticking in Japan for the next dish, the Beef Kebab (RMB108) showcases a Japanese rendition of shaokao folded into pleats and blanketed by chiffonade shiso and a dried horseradish snow.

The smoky licks of meat are flanked by your choice of dipping sauce – salted plum jam or lemon sour cream.

DSC01757.jpgMarket Fish (RMB158) dill chermoula, turmeric vinaigrette. Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

A must order, the Braised Lamb Ribs (RMB158) embody the concept of teamwork; every element on the plate is necessary for the success of the bite, each lending its own depth of flavor to the whole.

A play on hongshao rou, the red braising liquid seeps its aromatic sweetness into the less gamey, higher quality de-boned and rolled New Zealand Te Mana lamb ribs. 

A trio of sauces – an herbaceous quenelle of green chili chutney, whipped crème fraiche, and a cumin fennel hot and sour sauce – would be lacking if served on their own, but together they simultaneously stand up to and mellow the powerful flavors of the hongshao lamb.

The best plan of attack? Messily swirl everything together and go to town for a morsel that hits every note. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Miso-laced caramel and crispy peanut brittle is layered into whipped mascarpone, stacked on ma lai koh brown sugar sponge cake (customarily eaten for dim sum), for a twist on a traditional Tiramisu (RMB78)

The savory addition of miso united with the peanuts' crunch elevates this everyday dessert to new heights. 

(And we would know, as we’ve done more than the ample leg work on that one.)

READ MORE: The Most Extensive List of Tiramisu Ever Compiled

Bonus: for avid fanatics and followers, Juke has just announced it will be extending its operating hours to seven days a week, meaning you can now satisfy those bistro cravings on Mondays too.

Juke, 11 Dongping Lu, by Henghshan Lu, 东平路11号, 近衡山路.

[Cover image by Sophie Steiner/That's]

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