Shanghai Food & Drink Gossip: November 2020

By Sophie Steiner, November 24, 2020

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Another month passed and another month full of new restaurant openings in Shanghai. Plan to be outside as much as possible before temperatures really plummet; rumors are going around that this may be one of Shanghai’s coldest winters on record. Luckily, we have a number of heat lamp-stocked patio spots and warming food places with updated menus and creative flavors to satisfy your endlessly wanting palettes. Travel from France to Japan to India to Denmark, all while staying in the comfort of Shanghai.

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Anteroom – a new concept coming at us by Chris Zhu (formerly of Bird + Bitter), who also just opened French fusion wine bar Blaz last month in the old elEFANTE spot on Donghu – is going to be a wine bar, the likes of which we’ve never seen. Situated by longstanding French wine bar Le Verre à Vin on Changle Lu, Anteroom can only be described as ‘local SOiF.’ Natural wine is the feature, but fusion tapas will have a heavy Chinese flavor influence, a signature aspect of Zhu’s cooking. Soft launch is slated for the last week of November. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Shanghai foodies lost their sh*t when Nakama was forced to close last year because of lease issues, but owner Justin Xu immediately opened up High Yaki, a nearly mirror image of his beloved Nakama. Now, his Japanese empire of perfectly grilled meats, upper echelon seafood, and baller sake that can run you over RMB1,200 a bottle is expanding to Donghu Lu, on the second floor of the heritage building that also houses Blaz (see above) and Cellar to Table (see below), in the form of Hundo. With the largest space out of the three newly opened restaurants, Hundo can cram in the throngs of people that currently scavenge over a coveted High Yaki reservation. 

Just downstairs from Hundo and next to Blaz comes Cellar to Table by Phillipe Huser of Napa, another French wine bar. Price range and food options are chabuduo with Blaz, and both seem to be equally busy despite just opening. We plan to check out the menu in the coming weeks for a head-to-head comparison. 

Mavis rounds out the new French wine bars hitting Shanghai this month. (We are currently taking bets on the over-under of how many wine bars Shanghai will see open by year end.) Located on Wuding Lu, Mavis is a 30-seater 'neo bistro' featuring natural wines, French culinary techniques, and a hip unpaved cement wall surfaced with graffiti by local artists. Soft opening kicked off this week. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Chef Hardeep of The Bull and Claw already has a serious food lovers following, especially when it comes to his fusion Indian dishes. After endless popups and guest chef competitions, Hardeep is throwing down the curry gauntlet by opening his own modern Indian eatery in Jing’an – menu is still in the works, but we are hoping for naan-wiches, chicken tikka, tandoori ribs and lobster masala available daily! Geo Valdivieso will be designing the drinks menu. 

Geo is a busy boy; he is also opening up a new bar in Shankang Li called Zodiac where cocktails are developed around individual's astrological signs. The usual suspects – cocktails, champagne and whiskey – will be making an appearance, alongside a DIY station so that guests can be their own bartenders if they don't like their star sign's cocktail recipe. 

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Empirical Spirits is a Danish liquor company started by ex-Noma employees (the award-winning restaurant that started the whole farm-to-table movement) that combines both Eastern and Western fermentation methods, along with low-temperature distillation and high quality globally sourced ingredients, to make one of a kind spirits that don’t fit in one particular category like whiskey, gin or vodka.

Why is this relevant to Shanghai gossip? Because Empirical Spirits is kicking off its first ever long-standing popup in Asia on the first floor of Speak Low,  starting in December and running for a year. Expect one-of-a-kind liquor experiences, like a sip of Ayuuk – a smoky Pasilla chilli flavored spirit aged in Oloroso casks – or F*ck Trump and His Stupid F*cking Wall (yup, that’s actually the name of the liquor – did we mention how much we love this brand?) that is warm, vegetal and goes great with citrusy soda mixers. Standing room only. 

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Also hailing from Denmark, Shanghai’s favorite craft beer bar, Mikkeller, is opening a second location in the old El Luchador spot in Xintandi. Split across two levels, the beer bar will also feature Danish food (and we're talking more than just bar snacks that the current Jing’an location does). A lot of the details are up in the air, but they are hoping for a right-after-Chinese New Year start date. 

After waiting nearly two years, Scottish craft beer company Brewdog finally opened in Shanghai, and it’s… sterile. Exactly what you’re not looking for out of a craft beer bar. With the explosion of legit craft beer bottle shops around the city in the time it to took Brewdog to get its shit together and actually open, it has rendered itself somewhat irrelevant. 

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404, a new Japanese Izakaya on Wulumuqi by the Oha Group (Oha Eatery, Dead Poet, Pass ResidenceBar No. 3) is officially open. It features a full menu of yakitori and cocktails that are in line with whimsical chef Blake Thornley’s creations (that we still miss from the now closed Blackbird). 

Oha Group is doubling down this month by simultaneously launching Bar Maolago, a three-story Guizhou bar, restaurant and rooftop terrace garden bar. Situated on Fuxing Lu, you'll find Guizhou landscape-inspired cocktails and bar snacks on the first and third floors, and Guizhou hotpot on the second.

Something by Willis Group (Mr. Willis, Henkes, BOR and quite a few others) is in soft opening on Wukang Lu. Yes, the name is Something, which can be confusing to remember, but once you visit, it’s hard to forget. The open and airy space with floor to ceiling windows is stacked with a menu of homemade Iberico spam, charcoal tom yum goong tiger prawns, a katsu sandwich and sesame sea-salt ice cream and donut, to name just a few of the many standouts.

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Image courtesy of Rachel Gouk

The two Ferro brothers from el Bodegon have opened La Bodeguita Del Sur, a South American wine and tapas bar on Julu Lu. Expect lots of vermouth drinks paired with grilled beef, two things Argentina is all about. 

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Image courtesy of Cages

Cages just hit its millionth wing sold ever (kudos to them for tracking – we hear BT sits out back counting each bone). To celebrate, they are holding a 1 Millionth Wing Party on December 4 – details to come soon. 

Not enough for getting your wing fix in? Well you’re in luck, because Cages is finally jumping on the Wing Night bandwagon. That’s right, every Tuesday night (starting December 8) you can crush six jumbo wings for just RMB30. And you can attempt the Hot Wing Challenge – eat 12 Wings of Fire within six minutes and win a pint to extinguish the fire, a Cages Wing Challenge T-shirt and a picture photo on the 'Hot Wing Survivor' wall.

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Joining the kitchen team at La Scala, head chef Antonio Corsaro is already making waves in Shanghai. Hailing from Naples, his 17-year career has taken him from Italy to Pairs to London to Singapore and now to Shanghai, where he plans to impart his experience working internationally into his Italian-roots cooking. His newest menu iteration features elevated versions of comfort dishes from Corsaro's childhood, with modern twists to make it more applicable to the Shanghai palate.

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Food courts a plenty! Following in the Fan Tang footsteps comes Xintandi’s Foodie Social, chock full of southeast Asian favorites (Bun Cha Cha’s second location and The Pho Store), Homeslice, Tak Lung Siu Mei (super solid roasted Canto meats) and – WHOA! – Tai’an Table’s answer to fast food, among many others. Looks like 2020 is bringing us an opportunity to enjoy fine dining for lunch – in a mall food court. What is the world coming to? 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Lunar, a modern Chinese fine dining establishment led by chef Johnston Teo (formerly of The Pine at Ruijin) has opened on Jianguo Lu, offering just one RMB1,388 menu with tea pairings for all guests. The 10 courses are beautifully presented yet unapologetically average tasting, in our opinion. Some people love it, some don’t fully get it – us included – so just go into it with an open mind (and RMB1,388 to drop).

Although most foreigners and locals alike hit up Lotus Eatery for their Yunnan fix, the owners of Bloom are bringing a new option forward in Hu Ma (胡麻) at the Jing'an Kerry Centre. The main focus is Yunnan dishes with a contemporary twist, like choose-your-own rice noodle soup (thin noodles, red rice noodles or homemade thicker noodles) that is a cross between Vietnamese pho and Guangdong changfen, ghost chicken salad and Shiping tofu. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Starting in December, three sittings will be offered at modern Korean fusion restaurant Jeju Izakaya (instead of the previous two sittings), the earliest at 6.15pm, middle at 8.15pm and last at 10.15pm. First two sittings are RMB580 per person and third seating is RMB400. Note that reservations can only be made by adding the Jeju Izakaya WeChat ID: jejuizakaya

November didn’t slide fully by without a few closures. We waved goodbye to Jobu on November 14, but they are holding a burger and beer popup in its place from 4pm to late every day until December 4, when it will reopen as a new Mediterranean tapas concept by the same owners. 

Guinness Gatehouse also closed. But are we that surprised that it went out of business in less than a year, given they offered the cheapest free flow Guinness around at just RMB198 for self-pour Guinness all night? Nope. Bummer for such a big beer brand name though. 


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

Read more Shanghai Food & Drink Gossip.

[Cover image image via tricycle.org]

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