Shanghai Food & Drink Gossip: November 2023

By Sophie Steiner, November 29, 2023

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This month brings us so many new openings, it’s starting to feel a lot like pre-COVID (don’t want to jinx it!)

Bonus: the festive period is upon us – aka Shanghai Silly Season – so just embrace the holiday heft and double down with some new restaurant visits; you’ve got roughly six months before swimsuit season starts again.

That means… bring on those sweatpants. 

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The previous Napa Wine Bar & Kitchen, Image by That's Shanghai

NAPA (previously named Napa Wine Bar & Kitchen) is set to (potentially) reopen in Bund 22 under the same ownership team of Philippe Huser and Karen Ma (Cellar to TableSideways by Cellar to Table) in the first half of next year.

This fine dining European-style restaurant and wine bar is a Shanghai institution, with one of the most extensive selections of vino in all of China. 

Napa's newly appointed Italian head chef (who prefers to remain anonymous for now, further adding to the anticipation) will also be leading up Cellar to Table's winter menu launch for Chinese New Year.

This is definitely an opening to get excited for. 

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Image courtesy of 18 by Fréderic Anton

Also on the Bund, 18 by Fréderic Anton, a "gastronomic project" by three Michelin-starred chef – you guessed it – Fréderic Anton, is going to open in the the previous location of L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Bund 18.

The menu will be a selection of timeless recipes from Fréderic Anton's kitchen, coupled with seasonal local ingredients. 

This will be Fréderic Anton's first restaurant outside of France, where he is currently in charge of Pré Catelan on Paris' Bois de Boulogne, Jules Verne on the second floor of the Eiffel Tower, and Don-Juan II gastronomic cruise on the Seine River – the only boat to have obtained a Michelin star. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Popular casual Italian eatery Alimentari by Popolo Group is launching a sister brand, issimo* that adheres to an "all-inclusive 'mini-Italy' comprehensive dining experience."

Think the same dedication to the highest quality Italian ingredients, but with an emphasis on the traditional – with more pastas and regional Italian delicacies.

The first location is set to open in Yangpu on December 20 – alongside other popular chains like Lokal and Papito Pancake – but if Alimentari is any indication, we know that multiple other branches of issimo* will pop up around the city in no time at all.

DSC09978.jpgImage by Sophie Steiner/That's

After the opening of Chef Gabo’s 8 by Anarkia last spring, we thought the experimental dining space could contain this whirlwind genius of a chef, but guys... we were wrong.

READ MORE: 8 by Anarkia: Breaking Every Fine Dining Rule in the Book

We just got word that the man with a larger-than-life personality – and an equally out there menu to back it up – has taken over the entire building on the bustling corner of Wulumuqi Lu and Wuyuan Lu. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Knocking down all the walls and refurbing from the ground up, the current first floor tenant and beloved American-style Diner has closed.

But don’t fret, Gabo is revamping and relaunching it again soon as Eat by Diner, a trimmed down yet wilder menu of diner and dive dishes. 

The third floor is also being gutted, this time to house a by-reservation-only chef’s table for 12-16 people with – get this – a 22-course (read: bite) tasting menu.

Shrowded in mystery, the restaurant will have no name and won’t be searchable on Dianping. So, you know, you gotta be in the know. But don't worry – we'll keep you in the know. 

The second floor will remain 8 by Anarkia because... well, he’s clearly crushing it. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Traditional Cantonese teahouse and restaurant Yi Long has unveiled a secret Madame Ching modern take on Cantonese flavors, curated by Executive Chef Dali (Derek) Wong.

Expect the unexpected – Chef Dali has deconstructed, dissected, and dismantled his way through conventional Cantonese cooking, bending the rules to rebuild unbridled, Frankenstein-esque recipes that combine a Cantonese flavor base with Western techniques and plating.

READ MORE: Yi Long Unveils 'Secret' Madame Ching Modern Canto Menu

DSC00794.jpgImage by Sophie Steiner/That's

Also in the works, look out for the launch of Yi Long’s Dim Sum Disco Brunch in early December – free flow dim sum and drinks with a live DJ bumping groovy house disco tunes (from the dumpling steamer-basket designed DJ booth) every Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4pm.

Oh, and they also plan to launch a secret late night menu. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

If it comes in a jar is it any less tasty?

No.

In fact, we found the opposite to be true with Popot, a globally inspired menu by French owner Morgan Lotterie, served entirely in eco-friendly jars.

Sadly, Popot’s Shanxi Lu location closed at the end of last year, but has found a new home as of this September on Jianguo Xi Lu. 

The concept has been slightly modified; while daytime will still offer the same jar-based easy meals on the go, dinner is when the lights dim, the wine glasses come out, and the space transforms into a French bistro – with an impressive 100+ French label wine bottle selection.

Bonus: weekends also see brunch offerings, French-leaning of course.

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Casual burger joint Grinder on Wuding Lu, known for its out there burger offerings – like a Foie Gras Burger and a Durian Burger – is now Curb Burger.

Remodeling still seems to be in the works, so the verdict is still out on exactly what kind of burger spot it will be, but considering the size of the space (tiny) and the location (popular late night crowds), we can only imagine its going to be elevated fast food for the drunk masses (and we’re not mad about it). 

More to report back upon opening. Do note, that Grinder on Yuyuan Lu is still operating per usual. 

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Image courtesy of Boteco

In other rebranding news, Speto’s – a Mediterranean joint by the same team behind Boteco that opened this past March – is now Boteco Lounge, an offshoot of the already popular Boteco brand.

Expect to find the same weekend DJs spinning throwback 80s, 90s, and 2000s hits, plus Sunday 'matinee' DJs from 4pm onwards to keep your weekend day drinking vibes bumping.

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Image via Dianping

Singaporean Chef Jia Wei Lee (previously of The Pine) is leading the charge at The Rockbund’s newest venue, La Bourriche 133, and the name of the game is all things seafood.

Similar to sister restaurant Mercado 505 – where seafood is sourced directly from their co-owned supply chain – only the freshest catches are used, imported from around the globe.

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Image via Dianping

Expect everything from roe-stuffed squid to Basque fish grilled over open wood-fire flame; from freshly shucked New Zealand oysters to king crabs – all prepared with Mediterranean (Spanish, Italian, French) flavors.

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Image via Dianping

Atelier Cocktail Eatery on Changle Lu has shut down and immediately reopened around the block in the old Jax Jamon space on Fumin Lu as Atelier No. 3.

The design and vibe feels a whole lot like the other Atelier locations – branded Atelier textured concrete walls, onyx accents and distressed wood – with a similarly protein heavy menu.

That said, the emphasis here is less on Japanese izakaya, per se – it’s billing itself as a “wood grill and craft cocktail bistro.”

We plan to check it out in the coming week, so more on that ASAP.

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Image courtesy of Azul

Located on the second floor in The Weave – the F&B hub on Wuxing Lu – the Azul Group's Bhacus Wine & Wood Grill has rebranded as Azul Weave.

But the menu won’t be the exactly same as Azul Shankang Li; instead it’s an amalgamation of their other concepts – five dishes from Bhacus, 10 favorites from Azul, plus a lot of signature dishes specifically designed for Azul Weave by group chef (and Shanghai legend) Eduardo Vargas.

READ MORE: Eduardo Vargas: The Life & Times of a Shanghai Legend

The venue is also adding a covered patio for use during winter months, so diners can enjoy that winter sunshine without the below freezing temperatures.

Bonus: Azul Weave is offering a 42% discount on all food through the end of the month! After that, food is 32% off from December 1-10, and 22% off on December 11 for a la carte menu items.

READ MORE: Bhacus Becomes Azul Weave – 42% Off This Week!

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Image courtesy of Bar Blanc

Chase White (founder/owner of OFTB 反调 alcohol brand) has opened his first independently owned cocktail and coffee bar, Bar Blanc (currently in the process of a rebrand from Shimmer) on Julu Lu.

Blanc, meaning ‘white’ in French (that also just so happens to be Chase’s last name), represents the idea of restrained simplicity – the ethos of his monthly rotating nine-cocktail menu. 

Don’t expect to find rotovap infusions or molecular gastronomy garnishes; instead, the menu centers around the concept of 'five or less' – keeping only necessary ingredients that maintain a balanced sip, rooted in the classics. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

While we reported a few months back with a heavy heart that Shanghai institution Pie Society Canteen had shut down its Jing’an location at the end of October, the upside has already come to fruition with the announcement of the opening of Pie Society – Jing’an Pie Hole at Golden Eagle Mall, opposite Plaza 66 on Shaanxi Bei Lu.

Jing’an-ers can continue to crush savory and sweet pies this holiday season with minimal hiccup. 


Image courtesy of Wolfgang's Steakhouse

New York legendary Wolfgang’s Steakhouse has opened another location in a century-old townhouse on Yancheng Lu in Laoximen.

The art deco décor extends across the venue’s two floors, with a similar menu – of steaks, steaks, and more steaks – as their first Shanghai location along the North Bund.

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Image via Dianping

Yunnanese cuisine venue Dian Fu has also expanded with a second location, the newest outpost over in Columbia Circle on Yan'an Xi Lu.

The team celebrated its grand opening on November 21 with a buffet feast of all the classics – banana leaf steamed mushrooms, fried tofu, mixian rice noodles, hot chili bullfrogs, fried bamboo, osmanthus honey tamarillo, and so much more.

Swing by to satisfy that Yunnan craving.

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Image courtesy of KOR Shanghai

Upscale night club-meets-restaurant KOR Shanghai has recently undergone a layout, menu, and cocktail lineup upgrade with the launch of their new Super Lounge experience.

The newly appointed Chef Sam Li (previously of Michelin-starred PHÉNIX and Taian Table) has curated a sensory-focused dining menu to pair with the city tour-themed drinks menu.

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

A bit of an opening and closure in-betweener, Italian osteria La Barraca on Yongkang Lu has closed, but D.O.C Gastronomia Italiana (which closed earlier this month on Dagu Lu, and is also owned by the Camel Group) has taken over its space.

So, while we say goodbye to La Barraca, it will live on – at least its pizza offerings will – in the heart of the already reopened D.O.C.

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|mage by Sophie Steiner/That's

Another seemingly in-between situation, one of the city's key heath conscious and vegan-friendly venues – Carrot & Cleaver in the Shanghai Center – is facing a potential shutdown.

In a last ditch attempt to reopen the doors (after having to shut them last week until the team is able to raise more funds), they are calling upon their fan base for support to pledge donations or pre-purchase coupons towards future meal plans.

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If you're interested in pre-reserving a Carrot & Cleaver meal plan or buying a cash gift card, scan the QR code above.

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Equal parts shocker and not-so-shocker, the home of the internet sensation Shanghai Reuben, Le Daily closed last month.

Sadly, we had heard rumors that quality had begun to drop after the heart and soul of the venue – previous co-owner Francois Seguin – moved back home last year, and so the story goes...

The space has been taken over by Ocean Grounds, adding another coffee shop to the city’s lineup of more than 7,000 – a world record. 

READ MORE: Shanghai Has More Coffee Shops Than Any Other City in the World

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Other month-end closures span upscale Japanese izakaya Hundo on Donghu Lu, northeast Italian restaurant CIBVS, popular hangout Bar Centrale on Yanping Lu, and the announcement of the impending closure of nightlife haunt Elevator on Nandan Lu by year end. 

Per their official account, Elevator will be holding a final blowout party to be held on New Year’s, featuring Cocoonics, Heatwolves, Mau Mau, Knopha and more. Expect that one to run through to the wee small hours of the morning. 


Got a hot tip? Feel free to email all juicy rumors to sophiesteiner@thatsmags.com. 

Read more Shanghai Food & Drink Gossip.

[Cover image via tricycle.org]

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