4 New Spring Menus to Reawaken Your Taste Buds – Part III

By Sophie Steiner, April 20, 2021

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With spring just around the corner, both the weather and Shanghai’s F&B scene are heating up. Shanghai’s greatest mover and shaker chefs are putting pen to paper, meaning a fresh round of spring menus featuring the most seasonal of ingredients. Screw the approaching swimsuit season; we’ve got new dishes to try! Check out Part I here, Part II here and Part IV here

The Broken Dagger

For the first time since opening, The Broken Dagger is adding new cocktails, crafted by bar manager Melody, to their already whimsical menu. The new concept is two-fold: the first page focuses on refreshing spring flavors, each drink representing a different color of the rainbow from red to purple; the second page focuses on seven Chinese elements – like rice, soy, vinegar, oil and firewood – resulting in a savory cocktail series like we’ve never tasted before. 

Employing unexpected beverage ingredients like Sichuan preserved meat, fermented bean curd, cucumber soup and other unusual alcohol-paired condiments, the playful drinks – served in equally amusing glassware – are a flavor journey across Chinese regional cuisine. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

An ordinary cup of Tea (RMB138) this is not, with Oolong-infused G’Vine Nouaison gin, earthy Oolong Tea and a Prosecco topper for an effervescent finish that gets your mouth buzzing for the next libation. 

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As the backbone of China’s agriculture, it’s only fitting to highlight Rice (RMB108) as a key Chinese element cocktail. Blend together mizu socho, sake, salted peanuts, fermented bean curd and rice water for congee-meets-cocktail tipple that holds the gravity of 5,000 years of history in every sip. 

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Arriving as a set of three (but also available individually), the Oil (RMB118), Soy (RMB108) and Vinegar (RMB98) match the presentation of an everyday noodle shop’s condiment corner. The former is a spicy-sweet mix of Talisker 10 year, mixed oils, Camus VSOP, Quaglia Nocciola, Oloroso white wine, red wine and verjus that reminds us of China’s take on mesquite BBQ.

Meanwhile, the low ABV Soy option is something straight out of Chengdu’s guiwei flavor profile – a funky amalgamation of spicy, sweet, sour and umami that, in this case, comes from Sichuan preserved meat-infused Chivas Mizunara, fermented celery and apple, potato and simple syrup. 

Using a homemade potato soup recipe, the veg adds viscosity and aroma in an unpredictable way. Our favorite of the cocktail trio, the Vinegar, is a bright, low ABV option with sotol, spiced cucumber juice and homemade cucumber soup. 

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Like the Freezie-Pops we consumed by the dozen as a child, the Green (RMB128) is an alcohol-forward version of this treacly summer slushy popsicle. G’Vine gin, green cordial, bamboo leaves and verjus – made from grape juice extract – come together in a green-flecked glass that’s hard not to guzzle down in one gulp. 

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Firewood (RMB128) Laphroaig 10 Year, Tanduay Silver, Quaglia Rosa, Cocchi Americano, Suze, lemon, Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

For a nonalcoholic option, Blue (RMB80) sees the combination of Seedlip 108, clarified tomato juice and simple syrup, similar to the commonly eaten summer snack of cold, sugar dusted cherry tomatoes. But for those who still crave the buzz, an alcoholic version is available featuring Shanghai-made 白8 baijiu.

See a listing for The Broken Dagger

La Baracca 

Yongkang Lu’s busiest café La Baracca has upgraded their brunch menu and added in some new spring specials, focusing on seasonal fruits and vegetables. Keeping in line with their Italian/Italian-American leaning menu, it’s all about comfort food, but in a lighter, ‘greener’ way. 

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Prosciutto & Melon (RMB108) sees sweet honeydew melon slices arrive peppered with crisp arugula leaves, salty cured prosciutto and stretchy stracciatella cheese – pulled shreds of mozzarella soaked in heavy cream – a characteristic combination that fits this osteria’s menu concept, “perfect is the enemy of good.” 

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Another tapas-like starter that screams all thing spring is the Ricotta & Fresh Strawberries (RMB58) – toasted focaccia bread with luscious ricotta, adorned with sliced strawberries, torn basil and a honey drizzle.

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For those with a strong sweet tooth, the Ricotta Pancakes (RMB98) are the answer to your brunch wishes. Seasonal strawberries, blueberries and raspberries form a colorful crown atop a literal fat stack of cushiony griddle cakes, dribbled with maple syrup and a light dusting of powdered sugar. 

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On the savory end of the spectrum, an oversized, muffin-shaped Fennel Sausage Frittata (RMB88) is speckled with tangy goat cheese, spinach and red and yellow peppers – as fluffy and colorful as it is flavorful. 

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As the home of the widest selection of spritzes available on this side of the eastern hemisphere, we would expect nothing less than to see the addition of two new varieties to ring in spring. The Margarita Spritz (RMB50) is exactly how it sounds, a bubbly rendition of this timeless cocktail, salted rim and all, while the Aperol Apple Spritz (RMB50) is a fruity take on the classic amaro-based spritz, with vodka, apple juice and rosemary. 

See a listing for La Baracca

Homeslice 

It wouldn’t be a new season without the release of four new Homeslice pies, and spring is no exception.

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The biggest buzz surrounding a pizza since the pineapple debate of 2019 is Nomfluence’s Pork Satay (RMB30/slice, RMB150/16”, RMB240/20”) – a slice that sports Rachel Gouk’s Malaysian roots. Twenty four-hour marinated pork is roasted like the popular Penang streetside delicacy, then tossed on a curried tomato sauce pie, along with red onions, lots of cheese and roasted peanuts. 

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A combination of two Italian-American mainstays make up the Italian Meatball (RMB30/slice, RMB150/16”, RMB240/20”). Australian beef and pork meatballs (made with Nonna’s secret recipe) cover nearly every inch of pizza that has been generously ‘dressed’ in the same sauce the meatballs were cooked in. Torn basil and parmesan fleck the top for a red, green and white patriotic pizza homage to the Italian flag. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

When fish-fragrance finds its way onto a pizza in the form of Sichuan Omnipork (RMB30/slice, RMB150/16”, RMB240/20”), some may be skeptical, but hold the judgment until you’ve tried it – this pizza is a real standout and the staffs’ favorite of the lot. Strips of vegan certified Omnipork are combined with the traditional Sichuan ‘yuxiang’ flavor made up of garlic, ginger, pickled chilies and spices. Throw some bamboo, carrot, and wood-ear mushrooms on there for another successful fusion pizza; Homeslice does it again! This pizza is also available with homemade vegan cheese. 

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After garnering a cult following back in the summer of 2019, the Four Cheese (RMB30/slice, RMB150/16”, RMB240/20”) is making a comeback. Despite the name, you can count five different kinds of that gooey goodness making a showing – house made ricotta, pungent gorgonzola, provolone picante, two types of mozzarella and parmesan – juxtaposed against sweet caramelized onions and a crispy sesame seed crust. 

See listings for Homeslice

Mercado 505

The hero is the product when it comes to Mercado 505, a Spanish gastronomic market concept restaurant modeled off of Mercado San Miguel in Madrid and Mercado La Boqueria in Barcelona. But don’t come here for the Spanish food alone – you'll also find an impressive spread of only the highest quality imported meats, cheeses, seafood and wines along with a rotating menu of lunch and dinner options based on seasonality and availability. 

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The star of the show is the Blue Fin Tuna ‘T-Bone’ Steak (RMB999/0.9-1 kilo set, RMB1,588/1.3-1.4 kilo set), a behemoth portion of delivered-fresh daily Nagasaki blue fin tuna, grilled over fire wood. 

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Each set comes with three different dipping sauces – Japanese style charred eggplant cream, cured ham and potato purée and mimolette white wine cheese fondue – plus a Modena balsamic vinegar-drizzled strawberry and torched foie gras salad, raw Japanese cherry tomatoes nestled in a nutty Romesco sauce and dehydrated vegetable chips. Bring friends, bring family, bring Tupperware for leftovers, but whatever you do, bring yourself to taste this. 

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If you feel the need to order a few extra sides with the tuna steak, opt for the Spanish Fire Iron Pot (RMB188). Like Spain’s version of tempanyaki, the Te Mana lamb from New Zealand is brushed in French countryside butter and cooked with garlic cloves and rosemary. The simple skillet presentation allows the tender steak-like lamb cubes to shine (or, in this case, glisten), in all their juicy, fat-dripping goodness. 

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Lascas Carpaccio (RMB99), egg yolk, warm miso sweet potato foam, Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

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The Liquid Bonbon (RMB68) is our answer to missing hot-out of-the-oven donuts in Shanghai. Warm cake-batter donut holes are stuffed with dark chocolate ice cream, while bitter cocoa is contrasted against a dusting of powdered sugar on top. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Although not necessarily new for the season, the Basque Cheese Cake (RMB69) at Mercado 505 was actually the first version of this now dianping dessert favorite to grace our city’s borders. Basque-born chef Aitor Olabegoya Estrela combines the creamiest mimolette, the richest 18 months Comte and the most pungent soft blue cheese for a savory cheesecake, balanced expertly with your choice of handmade Italian sorbet. 

In the end of May, Mercado 505 will be adding more BBQ meat, seafood and vegetable options for summer, so stay tuned for warm-weather BBQ details, along with free-flow oyster weekends once a month all summer long. 

See a listing for Mercado 505

READ MORE: 4 New Spring Menus To Reawaken Your Taste Buds – Part I, 4 New Spring Menus To Reawaken Your Taste Buds – Part II and 4 New Spring Menus to Reawaken Your Taste Buds – Part IV

[Cover image by Sophie Steiner/That's]


Got an F&B company you would like to promote? Contact us by email on billyxian@thatsmags.com and by WeChat through the ID: billyjunior317 or by scanning the QR code below:

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