3 New Spring Menus: Italo Trattoria, Urban Café & Oxalis

By Sophie Steiner, June 1, 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, Part III here, and Part IV here. 

Italo Trattoria 

Italo has rebranded as Italo Trattoria, your neighborhood go-to Italian joint for back-to-the-basics Italian cooking with a modern thread. A combination of bringing chef Lucky Lasagna on board, revamping the cocktail list, plus upping the service game by welcoming Sebastian Dallee (previously of Heritage by Madison) to the Funka team as group GM has given the entire space a totally new feel, with incredibly delicious Italian food at honest prices. 

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Choosing from a selection of carpaccio, the Carpaccio Cipriani (RMB88) is a must-order. A classic beef carpaccio is elevated with the addition of sweet sun-dried tomatoes, parmesan cheese crisps, dots of creamy aioli and a refreshing dribble of basil oil, taking this usually ordinary dish to a whole new level. 

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A summer alternative, the Gamberi & Caviale (RMB128) is a thin layer of fresh king prawns, flecked with caviar and a drizzle of lemon oil to bring out the seafood’s natural sweetness.

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Another step-up on a traditional plate comes in the form of Vitello Tonnato (RMB68). Dutch veal is sous vide in brandy for a hint of caramelly sweetness, while the tonnato is made from real roasted tuna, broken down and combined with anchovies for extra umami and a flakier texture than the commonplace aioli. A sprinkling of capers brings the dish together with a briny pop. 

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A side of Schiacciata (RMB12) – an oven-roasted white pizza bread that bubbles and crisps, yet reveals its true self as an elastic, chewy pull of unforgettable carbs – is an ideal vessel for sopping up the extra tonnato sauce. 

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The Linguine alle Vongole (RMB88) is the bite that will bring us back time and again – al dente thick ropes of noodles are speckled with rich bottarga, bringing a seafood layer of salinity to the dish that is further accentuated by plump clams and an unexpected but purposeful nip of chili. 

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Acting as a bitter palate cleanser, the Insalata di Finocchi (RMB48) is a verdant combination of peppery arugula, aromatic shaved fennel, tart grapefruit sections, roasted pine nuts and assorted Italian olives.

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Handmade, wide pasta ribbons are topped with a mountain of Wagyu beef Bolognese and a liberal shaving of parmesan in the timeless Pappardelle al Ragu (RMB88), a bowl of comfort that appeals to anyone with taste buds. 

DSC02650.jpgCalamaretti Scottai (RMB98), Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

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The bar menu showcases a variety of Italian spirits in amaro-forward bevvies like the Triciclo (RMB68) – an ombré blend of Campari, white wine, red wine, lemon and soda water or the Bronx-ing (RMB78) – a balanced mélange of cinnamon-infused Cinzano rosso, lillet blanc, orange and bitters. 

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Italo also offers a well-curated wine list – with more than a dozen options by the glass, ranging in price from RMB68-88 – as well as beers on tap and a selection of Italian amaros, aperitifs and digestifs, plus rotating daily specials and desserts. 

See a listing for Italo Trattoria

Urban Café 

The Sukhothai Shanghai provides an unexpected escape to southeast Asia with the new spring menu at Urban Café. Over half of the menu has seen a revamp, with dishes ranging across Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. The next update in July will see another round of Thai-centric changes, with the head chef from the Sukhothai Bangkok leading the charge. 

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Speaking of Thailand, the current menu already sees a sprawling showing of curries, spanning coconut cream-laden Southern Thai Yellow Curry (RMB180) – poured over a flaky cod fillet and crunchy celtuce stem – to northern Thai Style Shrimp Dumplings (RMB188) stuffed with citrusy Laotian chicken larb. 

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The Green Curry Seasonal Vegetables (RMB78) are best enjoyed with extra rice to soak up the luscious broth, while tangy Red Curry Pork (RMB158) showcases an expert balance between sweet mango, spicy chilies and tender pork neck slices. 

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Travel ‘down the coast’ to Malaysia for sambal smothered Wok Fried Prawns (RMB178), a delectable bite of seafood umami, palm sugar sweetness and fresh chili heat resting on a bed of roasted vegetables. 

DSC01486.JPGGrilled Sliced Wagyu Beef (RMB178), Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

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Other seafood-focused highlights include the humbly presented Grilled Squid (RMB138), charred to perfection while still maintaining that signature snap in each bite. Refreshing papaya salad, ornamented with grapefruit sections and chilies, acts as crunchy palate cleanser. 

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The effortlessly light Sea Bream Tartare (RMB148) is flecked with aromatic galangal, chilies and a glistening lashing of lime dressing. 

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Dessert includes southeast Asian heavy hitters like juicy Mango Sticky Rice (RMB98) drizzled with a sweetened coconut milk, and a glistening sphere of coconut cream tart topped with Coconut Ice Cream (RMB78) that when pierced reveals a pineapple chunk-studded center. 

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Contemporary takes on classic flavor pairings take form in the Caramel Chili Pineapple (RMB108) – a dark chocolate soufflé tart that hugs a base of pineapple jam, garnished with fiery chilies and a vanilla ice cream globe – a refined balance of sweetened spice. 

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Creamy Pudding Cake (RMB98) is sliced diagonally to reveal a soft dollop of melty pandan ice cream, with added crunchies from both black and white sesame seeds and a sour pop owed to a sticky passion fruit sauce. 

All day long, Urban Café offers any three dishes on the entire menu for RMB350, five dishes for RMB500 or seven dishes for RMB600. Another exciting upgrade comes in the form of a new terrace; this summer, the Urban Café restaurant will be extended, opening up to a sunlit outdoor space that encircles the hotel all the way to the Zuk Bar. Hello patio lounging! 

See a listing for Urban Café

Oxalis

One of our favorite date night (and day) venues, Oxalis has mastermind Chef Jonas Noël at it again with another round of updates, swapping out hearty cold-weather alternatives for lighter, fresher fare. 

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A light Beans Salad (RMB88) is dressed in Gribiche sauce – a riff on mayonnaise made with Dijon mustard, capers, egg, cornichons and herbs – that heightens the beans crisp sweetness. Wedges of bayonne ham, hazelnuts and bread crisps add another layer of crunch.

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Brie from Isigny, Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

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Hand cut M3 Australian Beef sees mayonnaise swapped out for an oxtail broth, mixed with Laphroig 10-year and lemon oil to form a jelly for the Aussie Angus Beef (RMB178). The rustically chopped meat is topped with crunchy Indian almonds and beads of salty Yunnan caviar as a bougie alternative to common table salt. Cleverly, the dish is sprinkled with heart-shaped leafy Oxalis. 

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Brined and torched, the Rosy Seabass (RMB198) is equal parts flaky and buttery, topped with North African spiced yogurt sauce, pickled cauliflower, blood orange and cauliflower purées and an herbaceous salad. This same dish is also available on the lunch menu, but with oily, firm mackerel. 

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The sweet Scallops (RMB228) are pan-seared and served with an umami-rich broth made from mussel stock and shitake mushrooms. The Japanese sansho pepper, a cousin to the Sichuan peppercorn, is sprinkled across the top, adding notes of citrus and a hint of numbing spice. 

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The epitome of tender and juicy, the roasted Te Mana Lamb Tenderloin (RMB298) tastes more like beef than its gamier ungulate counterpart. This is because Te Mana lamb boasts intramuscular fat that – similar to Wagyu beef – melts when cooked, increasing the flavor and affording it the name of “omega-3 lamb.” 

A quenelle of broccolini basil purée adds color and brightness astride the sautéed broccoli, kale and pine nuts-crowned lamb. And a shaving of 12-months Manchego cheese brings an extra dose of richness to the plate. 

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Grilled a la plancha, a heaping portion of Iberico Pork Pluma (RMB298) rests on shaved heart of palm, interspersed with fatty pieces of guanciale – an Italian cured pork cheek, similar in preparation to pancetta. A forest green purée made from spinach and garlic reminds us the importance of getting our daily serving of six. 

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Double down on chocolate with the Cabosse 72% Dark Chocolate (RMB88) – inspired by a Black Forest dessert with cherry, Chartreuse liquor and cocoa nibs – or the Valhona Chocolate Soufflé (RMB108) topped with a sour apricot jam and served with tart apricot sorbet. 

See a listing for Oxalis

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[Cover image by Sophie Steiner/That's]


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