Shanghai Food & Drink Gossip: October 2021

By Sophie Steiner, October 29, 2021

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It’s the lull before the holidays, meaning new openings are slowing down…NOT! This is Shanghai, people, it never slows down.

This month is chalk-full of expansions, more wine bars, a lot of BBQ and – of course – more booze. Grab 2021 by the horns and ride this sucker out. 

We thought Jing’an had hit a breaking point with wine bars and then Gula proved us wrong. Situated on the northern end of Yanping Lu, this ‘family wine bistro’ – as it is named on the window – features a menu with everything from Vietnamese pizza (served on rice paper) to Dai herb beef tartare to crab rice. Verdict is still out, we vow to report back soon. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Not one but two bistro wine bars are opening it seems, the latter of which will be led by popup master and chef Michael Janczewski (previously of Canton Disco) and Sebastien Dallee (previously of Heritage by Madison, Italo/Funka Group), and is aiming to open mid-November in the old Pirata digs on Dongping Lu. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The 22-seater will serve a tight menu of 12 items that focus on Mediterranean flavors with an Asian twist.

We scoped out a sampling of the new menu at a popup at SOiF a few weeks ago, and everything – from surf n’ turf oyster tartare paired with Te Mana lamb and shaved parmesan tartare, to shepherd’s purse and ricotta ravioli, to Shaoxing wine soaked-raisin studded rice pudding – has us counting down the hours until doors open.

In the spring, they plan to expand seating into their outdoor terrace, giving them room to grow with the seasons. 

On the same street, be on the lookout for more openings like Pain Chaud, Lululemon, a few high-end Chinese restos and a handful more that are in the works of finalizing lease contracts. Dongping Lu shall rise again!

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Genesis, the premium luxury car division of Korean brand Hyundai Motors, just opened a flagship showroom in Hong Kong plaza where Gap used to be, just next to the large Apple Store on Huaihai Lu. 

Upstairs from the showroom, restaurateur Mark Klingspon (The Nest, The Cannery, Rye & Co.) has partnered with owner and chef Tom (Jeju Izakaya, Professor Lee, Belloco, Botong Sikdang) and Michael Chen to open a contemporary Korean restaurant. Onjium, a Michelin star restaurant from Seoul and New York is also contributing on the menu curation. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

On the topic of The Nest, just a block away on Sichuan Lu, Mark Lloyd (J.Boroski) is behind a new two-part venue, The Living Room and the The Upper Room. Shanghai Oud, the group backing the new spot, will be closing MOST Izakaya on Julu Lu and focusing fully on this drinks-centric space, with a stronger emphasis on wine in The Living Room and featured cocktails on the 6th floor's Upper Room.

Later on in the year, in place of MOST Izakaya, the team will open a bottled and canned cocktail casual hangout – with drinks ranging from RMB50-80 – using extra ingredients leftover from their other venues' cocktail programs and popups to create a closed loop circuit between all spaces, eliminating wastage. Sustainability and creativity is what we can surely expect from this team. 

More in the bar news, COA of Hong Kong – No.1 bar in Asia’s Top 50, and the World’s No. 8 bar – is opening a second location, and Shanghai is where they have decided to do it. Lucky us. That has been in the works since before summer. 

The Mexican-inspired craft cocktail bar is all about bringing agave spirits to the forefront of Asia’s beverage scene. The team is currently in final stages of training to open up the spot in Jing'an, and Jay Khan, the mastermind behind the whole operation, will swing through as soon as he can – here’s to hoping for more lax quarantine rules in the near future. 

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Image via Dianping

Mix320, a new event space, F&B hangout and art spot just opened last weekend in Changning District near Zhongshan Park. The list of new restaurants, beer bars, cocktail spots and live performance areas is hefty – to say the least – so get prepared for a full-on article listical coming at you in the future. 

Dian Fu, a Yunnan bistro, is now open on Beijing Dong Lu. While the always popular Lotus Eatery will forever have a place in our hearts, Dian Fu may give it a run for its money. On the upmarket end of the spectrum, the space is modern with concrete, dark wood and glass, accented by wicker chairs and plenty of plants.

The menu offers many Yunnan go-tos – Dali fried cheese, stir-fried mushrooms Shi Ping tofu and the like. 

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Image courtesy of Cages

Shanghai’s most successful all-in-one live sports bar Cages is expanding with a second location coming soon at One East by the end of the year. The One East space has a multitude of new restaurants, bars, Japanese book stores and lifestyle hubs opening in quick succession, giving us yet another reason to make the trek out there. 

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Speaking of second locations, Chili’s American Bar & Restaurant just had their grand opening on Tongren Lu, across from the Kerry Centre – Jing’an. This Texas BBQ-focused chain is now spreading its delicious big mouth burgers, baby back ribs, fajitas and margaritas this side of the Huangpu. 

Craft beers abound for Tap That, a favorite neighborhood beer bar that has expanded to not one but two locations in the last months – one on Wuding Lu and the other on Xianxia Lu, just north of Yan'an. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

If you’ve been to any food or beer festival in Shanghai in the last year, you’ve probably heard of Preferred Beef Cut, a modest BBQ vendor churning out some righteous smoked brisket.

Well, if melt-in-your-mouth meats is what you crave, you no longer need to wait for another Beer Fest because Preferred Beef Cut is opening a brick-and-mortar venue called Country Pride at a local farm in Huacao, just north of Hongqiao airport. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Inspired by the renowned Snow’s BBQ in Texas, Country Pride will be a family BBQ escape with craft beer (spoiler alert: expect lots of Side Hustle brews!), games and – of course – all the meats. Soft opening took place on October 24, and if the meat consumed was any indication of what’s to come, cows be wary. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

On the topic of both meats and brick-and-mortar stores, everyone’s delivery go-to for all things sausage, bacon and steaks, Breakfast Champion, is also opening a venue of their own on Shaanxi Bei Lu in Jing’an. The Corner Shop is a collaboration between founding partners Andrew and Lawrence plus Sammy from Little London

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Image courtesy of Breakfast Champion

It will stock everything from the largest range of Breakfast Champion products you can find offline, to imported confectionary items and snacks to magazines and holiday seasonals (think everything you’ve been missing about Christmas and Easter from home).

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Image courtesy of Shaughnessy

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More on the meat front: Shaughnessy, a New York-style eatery offering a variety of dry-aged steaks and fresh seafood, is in soft opening on Huaihai Dong Lu. The menu shares similarities with other American steakhouse joints, like the beloved Wolfgang's

Li Ze (OttimoSOiFtheWarehouse) is launching yet another modern French bistro, called Suzie, next to the Capella Complex. It will be dedicated to all things champagne and Burgundy wines. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Drunk Uncle, the unpretentious, beer-focused neighborhood hangout with a nod to Japanese izakaya culture, is tripling down on a third location, this time off Jiashan Lu and Jianguo Lu. Menu seems to be the same – grilled meats, craft beer and highballs. Because if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. 

Aroi Thailand on Maoming Lu is an upscale Thai restaurant that celebrated its official opening just before National Week. The menu is expansive, covering Thai cuisine from the spicy north to the creamy curries in the south. Plus a lot of fruity drinks for pairing. 

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Image courtesy of Harrods

Coming at you from the UK, luxury brand Harrods will be opening its first Tea Room in China at Taikoo Hui by the end of October.

Divided into different sections, all designed with an art deco theme, one room will focus on classic British afternoon tea – with creative takes on afternoon tea specialties curated by Harrods' chefs in London and over 150 tea varieties – another will be more for dining, while other areas will be for luxury brand shopping. 

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Photo courtesy of GRND CNTRL

GRND CNTRL is a new club by the same people as Le Baron that celebrated its Grand Opening at the end of last month in Xintiandi, yet it’s definitely not a Le Baron 2.0.

Yet, somehow, it's still somewhat a classy affair – nice glassware, perfect pours, "dress to impress" attire, plated food and private rooms, of course. 

Hey Guac! is another – even more exciting, based on the punctuation choice – Chipotle knockoff (last month it was Chopia). Maybe next we will actually get the real deal. Fingers crossed.

Either way, lots of burrito bowls are in our immediate future. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Like a flash in the pan, Duli Go in Xintiandi's Foodie Social is closing. After opening just two months ago, the owners have decided the food court vibe is not the right fit. Now, that's not to say Duli's flagship spot on Donghu Lu is going anywhere. Don't fret, that location will be sticking around for sure.

Not closures, just temporary pauses, Da Marco on Dongzhuaanbang Lu is currently closed for planned renovations, while Mercado 505 is temporarily closed for unplanned renovations following an unexpected fire. Thankfully, no one was hurt and the space should be open again to the public in 2-3 weeks.


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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