Shanghai Food & Drink Gossip: January 2018

By Betty Richardson, January 5, 2018

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The start of another new year for F&B in Shanghai, and who knows what trends, fads and phenomena 2018 will bring our taste buds? Pleasingly, we’re starting to see more contemporary Chinese restaurants open up, starting with the spicy Guizhou-influenced small plates at Oha, and new, nouveau Sichuan at The Peacock Room (below). The latter is brought to us by a Caesar Song, owner of the decadently decorated Sense 8, and also of Sichuan chain restaurant Maurya. Stay tuned for our review of that next month.

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Second, a total bummer: Alan Wong's has closed. The last day of service was on December 25, so not even a chance to bid farewell to their gochujang short ribs or pho French dip sandwich. Inferno near People's Square also closed, as did Truck Stop Grill

Al's, on the other hand, is going from strength to strength. They've just opened another place, Al's Place, and it's inside K11. The MO is a greatest hits from the Al's menu, restyled into 'contemporary tapas bites.' That includes their famous ricotta blueberry pancake, miso pork belly sliders and popcorn chicken 'n' waffles. 

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In addition to expanding their Boxing Cat brewery empire northwards to the capital, Kelley Lee and co. have opened a new neighborhood beer bar, 45 Degrees, on Wuding Lu. Minimalist interiors, plenty of good craft beer, low commitment Mexican food and coffee from one of Shanghai's best: Café Del Volcan. Picking up where the now-closed District sadly left off last year. 

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A few blocks north of there, a new cocktail bar has opened: Archaeology. With insides notable for their Art Deco-meets-steampunk décor, from the outside you’ll spot the place from its curiously slanting front door… 

Another new bar: Specters. Co-owned by Morgan Short of SmartShanghai fame, the bar boasts no-nonsense drinks, foosball, arcade games, and is heralded as 'half old man's English pub, half art damaged New York trust fund kid rock bar.' That's the duality of man, man.

Over in Fuxing Soho Plaza, Cali-export The Habit Burger Grill has opened to rapturous, greasy-fingered applause from hamburger gluttons (read: us). More fast casual than fast food, the Habit Burger makes a point of grinding their own beef patties in-house, and charbroiling them thereafter. Highlights are the original Charburger with cheese (RMB58), the Santa Barbara Char (RMB56), onion rings with fresh ranch dip, and a free-flow pickle bar.

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Oh, and two Puxi-based Taco Bells opened. 

Another new opening comes from Holy Cow chef Anthony Zhao: The Rice Garden. Offering simple, traditionally executed Chinese dishes alongside superior quality steamed rice, the place is especially good for waimai delivery, if you live in the Dapuqiao area, that is. 

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Not content to let Hello Kitty dominate the market for achingly twee, Japanese animated mascot-themed eateries, Sanrio have opened a Gudetama Chef restaurant in Crystal Galleria mall. Who is Gudetama? Why, only the anthropomorphic embodiment of severe depression! The popular egg yolk-shaped critter is characterized by his relatable melancholy outlook on life, which manifests in aversion to leaving his egg white bed, and phrases such as "The future... I can't." It's a Japan thing. Naturally, the menu has lots of egg dishes.

Two notable new Michelin-touted ramen openings are on our radar: firstly, Ramen Ichiryuan (below), a Hokkaido-born ramen-ya tucked away on the second floor of Nanjing Xi Lu’s Shanghai Center. The other is another branch of first Ramen Tomikawa (the first being installed within Ramen Arena in Joy City mall), also from Hokkaido, where it boasts a Michelin Bib Gourmand. 

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In other news, roving Sichuan soul food pop-up and private kitchen, Fly By Jing, has finally launched their online shop. There you’ll find their small-batch chili sauces and spice mixes, made using premium Sichuan ingredients. Our favorites include the Mala Chili Spice Rub, and their Sichuan Chili Crisp sauce.

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A new installment inside Three on The Bund: Canton Table. Replacing Whampoa Club, this new Neri & Hu designed restaurant shows a more playful side to the world of fine Cantonese dining. Think dim sum, crispy suckling pig, luxurious braised abalone and fine pu’er teas, served alongside the building’s Bund views.  

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Found 158, meanwhile, has spawned a new EDM club: Taxx (short for ‘The Angle of X’.) Taxing by name, but hopefully not by nature, the behemoth nightlife venue offers the familiar rigmarole of bottle service and EDM. 

Last but not least, Bombay Bistro has secured a new home inside Found 158 after being rudely ousted from their first Yongfu Lu location. Curry is the natural accompaniment to boozing in the eyes of this humble Brit, so we couldn't be more pleased.  

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