2 Fiery New Menus: High Yaki The Sea & La Brise 523

By Sophie Steiner, April 15, 2024

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High Yaki The Sea

Chef Carlos Sotomayor (previously of elEfante and UP Shanghai) is the man behind the menu at owner Justin Xu’s High Yaki The Sea.

Showcasing a blend of Western cooking techniques with splashes of Japanese, Thai and wider Southeast Asian flavors, smoke and fire are a predominant component of every dish – running the gamut of global fire power, the restaurant boasts both a Combi oven and Salamander broiler, plus a Japanese binchotan charcoal-grill. 

READ MORE: High Yaki The Sea: Popular Yakiniku Explores the Oceans

And chef Carlos has just dropped a bomb of a new menu, one that is really blowing up the F&B scene, with everything from uni butter slathered udon to sashimi scallops with tree tomato jam, from glazed saury fish with daikon fondant to custardy eel chawanmushi, and so, so much in between – best enjoyed on the pet-friendly terrace. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That’s

The new menu is expansive, to say the least, but the common thread that weaves through it all is flame-licked izakaya-style eats, heavy on the seafood.

Nearly every dish on the menu is tied together with a flash of flame, a curling tendril of smoke, a touch of charcoal heat. 

And we are here for it. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That’s

A heart on the sleeve love song to the diversity of global tomatoes, the Scallop (RMB98) sees plump sashimi grade scallops competing for prime position on the plate with both a clarified heirloom tomato jelly and a Yunnan tree tomato relish. 

Also known as a tamarillo (or a sachatomate in Quechua, an indigenous South American language), and found growing from the rainforests of Peru to the canopies of southern Yunnan, this jungle fruit is like a tomato on steroids – tangy and treacly with a brighter aroma. 

The tree tomatoes are first charcoal grilled, skinned and chopped, before being mixed with chilies, chives, shallots, ginger and a touch of honey, a relish topping that coaxes out sweetness from the alternating pleats of sliced organic heirlooms, crunchy grilled spring bamboo, and supple scallops below it. 

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Pacific saury is flash-fried before being glazed in a brown sugar, soy, mirin and sake syrup as the Sanma No Kanroni (RMB30) – a dish named for the Japanese process of braising in syrup, kanroni

Perched atop a daikon fondant, the radish is poached in a konbu dashi, resulting in a mouthwateringly melty morsel. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That’s

Gunkan sushi – a typical steamboat style of sushi where a ball of rice serves as a base, topped with nori and layers upon layers of ingredients – is a unique element of High Yaki The Sea's menu.

However, in the case of the Seabream Gunkan Sushi (RMB68/piece), the rice is swapped for a demurely sweet seaweed and sesame crumbly cracker, a duo of tender seabream and buttery uni stacked on top. 

The seafood is drizzled with just a hint of white soy sauce, shiso and toasted sesame, so its inherent flavors secure the lead role in this one-bite show. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That’s

Torched baby sardines are tossed in a lemongrass dressing with Chilled Soba (RMB75), alongside mizuna leaves, shallots, and carrots for bonus crunch…

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That’s

… while sake, mirin, and konbu-braised Baby Octopus (RMB55) is finished over charcoal heat, simultaneously sticky from the glaze reduction and smoky from the charcoal’s intoxicating char.

Wrapped in nori and finished with dots of nose-tingling wasabi, each crispy sucker on the tentacle’s surface is juxtaposed against the succulent flesh.

DSC08989.jpgMaguro Avocado (RMB75) Akami and chutoro tuna cubes, seaweed, nori, sesame, Image by Sophie Steiner/That’s

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That’s

Barbecued eel is sliced and coated in egg before being steamed into a velvety custard as the Eel Chawanmushi (RMB38), draped in a thickened eel sauce with a sprinkle of nori powder. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That’s

Concurrently dried and smoked over charcoal flames, the Air Dried Sepia (RMB80) is brushed with butter and finished on the binchotan grill, flanked by a dollop of charred leek mayonnaise and a gasp of lemon. 

DSC09172.jpgSpring Bamboo (RMB38) Red miso-lemon sauce, tree tomatoes, pickled fennel flowers, Image by Sophie Steiner/That’s

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That’s

Butterflied and charcoal grilled – not unlike the streetside chuar spots that pop up around Shanghai each night – the Eggplant Gratin (RMB68) is swaddled in a smarmy white miso cream studded with torn mizuna leaves, shimeji ‘shrooms, and a peppering of chili flakes.

Fluttering skipjack tuna bonito flakes – aka katsuobushi – wave back at you, urging another bite.

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White Asparagus (RMB68) Parmesan foam, homemade brown butter chili crisp, Image by Sophie Steiner/That’s

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That’s

Unbridled in its excess, the Uni Noodles (RMB288) are a tidal wave of sea urchin in two forms – a Japanese dried sea urchin butter and a baker’s dozen of fresh Dalian sea urchin. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That’s

Equal parts lux and lush, together the two form an 'uni alfredo,' of sorts – unctuously coating each silky, saucy strand of expertly al dente udon.

DSC09209.jpgPotato (RMB65) Salmon roe, truffle sour cream, shaved Yunnan black truffle, Image by Sophie Steiner/That’s

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That’s

The motherload is served in the form of the Grilled Plate (RMB288) – a trifecta of seafood imbued with the grill’s smoky fragrance.

The spread spans air-dried Arctic char – with a crackly sheathing of skin that contrasts with the fleshy meat below it; scallop on the half shell coated in a fistful of shaved black truffle; and line-caught squid finished with a fresh herb and pickled Sichuan green peppercorn relish.

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That’s

Sitting at the midway point between dessert and a side dish, the Camembert Tempura (RMB50) sees the unexpected but purposeful balance of sweet and heat in the form of sugared ramen shop chili aioli, a welcome dribble across plush pillows of fried camembert cheese. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That’s

Homemade dark chocolate fudge mimics the famed Japanese Nama Chocolate (RMB45) brand, the cocoa’s natural bitterness amplified by a dusting of matcha powder. Freeze-dried strawberry nibs lend a softened sweetness. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That’s

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A tropical getaway in a glass, the Mango Coconut Custard (RMB48) is finished with coconut meat, lip-puckeringly tart fresh passion fruit and a macadamia nuts crumble, the most refreshing of ways to finish a feast. 

Can’t decide what to order? Leave it up to the pros and go for the Chef’s Menu (RMB2,200/two people) – which includes all of the restaurant’s signatures, plus a smattering of new dishes clocking in at 10 total courses, plus dessert. 

DSC08987.jpgYuzu Sour (RMB30) and Ume Highball (RMB30), Image by Sophie Steiner/That’s

If that wasn’t enough, High Yaki the Sea has just launched a new happy hour daily from 2-5pm, with half off cocktails, sake and wine by the bottle, with most drinks clocking in at RMB28-34 – cheaper than a Coke! 

High Yaki The Sea, #113, Bldg 5, 8 Hengshan Lu, by Wulumuqi Lu, 衡山路8号锦和越界5号楼113单元, 近乌鲁木齐路.


La Brise 523

Chef Conrad Van Den Heever’s debut restaurant, La Brise 523, is a firepit-roasted proteins bistro with a modern Southeast Asian flavor-leaning menu.

The kitchen sports its own firepit, where anything that can be is roasted over open woodfire flames, whisps of curling smoke adding a campfire aroma to the entire vicinity.

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That’s

The protein-heavy menu is primarily inspired by chef Conrad’s time spent hunting, fishing, curing meats, and even churning butter on his grandparent’s farm in South Africa, featuring rustic flavors that pair well with seasonal produce.

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That’s

Case in point, the Duck Liver Mousse (RMB98) is a walk in the park for a man who spent his childhood working in charcuterie, because “when it comes to anything pâté, mousse or terrine, I hold my own,” remarks Van Den Heever.

And “hold his own” in this case translates to a rose baijiu infused whipped mousse, the liver’s minerality tempered by a bright cranberry compote and toasted hazelnuts, best enjoyed smeared across brioche toast.

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That’s

Speaking of bright, La Brise just launched a slew of new brunchy daytime dishes (available seven days a week), with plates like Beetroot Cured Salmon Bagel (RMB78) – slathered in a citrus cream cheese, with ribbons of beetroot-cured salmon gravlax and cucumbers, plus briny capers and fresh red onion…

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That’s

… and an open-faced breakfast sandwich in the form of ginger-marinated and grilled Roast Beef Benedict (RMB88).

Nestled between a caramelized onions-lined English muffin and a soft-poached Japanese egg, the meat is smothered in an avalanche of a zippy homemade hollandaise, oozing down the side, heavy on the lemon for an extra hit of acid to cut through the richness.

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That’s

An alternative to the traditional English muffin, a panko-coated crab and potato rosti cake is the base for the Smoked Salmon and Arctic Crab Cake (RMB88), swaddled in more of that addicting homemade hollandaise. 

DSC08668.jpgLB523 Beef Tartare (RMB98) Homemade sriracha aioli, egg yolk, beetroot pickled shallots, sourdough toast, Image by Sophie Steiner/That’s

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That’s

Dressed in a yuzu ponzu and sesame aioli, the Tuna Poke Bowl (RMB98) sees thick cubes of tuna sashimi and mango, sliced avocado, edamame, and homemade mustardy pickles puzzled together atop a bed of rice.

Accompanying sheets of torched nori add a bonus layer of fire to the plate, tying into the venue’s ethos. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That’s

For those craving a sweet (yet guilt-free) finish to daytime dining, the Coconut Granola & Berry Compote (RMB68) is a vibrant rainbow on a plate – with homemade strawberry yogurt, fresh mixed berries, salted coconut granola, and a heaping scoop of mango sorbet. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That’s

If you’re more of a night owl like us, the dinner menu features just as many new plates, beginning with the Ssamjang Smoked Baby Chicken (RMB168).

Inspired by the flavor profile of spicy Korean fried chicken, chef Conrad instead paints a fiery ssamjang glaze on 72-hour dry-aged then smoked spring chicken, paired with a bangin’ pineapple kimchi and gochujang aioli slaw. 

DSC08698.jpgRoasted Salmon Head (RMB68) Teriyaki glaze, pickled ginger, lime, Image by Sophie Steiner/That’s

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That’s

Tempura-battered and Buttermilk Fried Squid (RMB128) is a Southeast Asian take on fried calamari rings, with thick cut squid coated in a lace-like tempura, shatteringly crisp and best enjoyed dunked in a miso chili aioli. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That’s

Chef Conrad’s signature Middle Eastern zhug sauce – made from aromatic green herbs, Thai green chilis, garlic and ginger, and a touch of soy sauce – anchors five-hour sous vide- and lychee wood barbecued-Grilled Octopus (RMB128) to the plate.

A piquant daub of red pepper romesco, a lashing of lime, and the saline finish of bonito flakes balance taste, texture and tint.

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That’s

The brunch / lunch menu items are available daily from 11am-3.30pm, while the new dinner items can be savored daily from 5-9.30pm.

La Brise 523,  #4-6, 523 Fuxing Lu, by Sinan Lu 复兴路523弄4-6号, 近思南路.

READ MORE: 3 Meaty New Menus: Cages, 18 Hours BBQ & Alimentari


[Cover image by Sophie Steiner/That's]

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