Shanghai Food & Drink Gossip: December 2021

By Sophie Steiner, December 30, 2021

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We recently binge watched Bridgerton, and if you haven’t yet, well you’re honestly not missing much besides some titillating (you see what we did there?) background fodder while you clean up the mess of yet another Christmas and New Year’s celebration. 

But, we can’t help but draw similarities between this monthly F&B column and that of the weekly town gossip circulated by the anonymous penname Lady Whistledown. Some is true; some is not quite so true; some is still hush hush; while some is fully out in the open. 

Basically, we are Shanghai’s Lady Whistledown, except not anonymous. And we don’t write about sex. Usually. Unless you count food porn. We cover that to the fullest. 

Without further ado, please enjoy our (food) porn for December. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Juke, a neighborhood eatery headed by popup master and chef Michael Janczewski (previously of Canton Disco) and Sebastien Dallee (previously of Heritage by MadisonItalo/Funka Group), opened mid-November in the old Pirata digs on Dongping Lu. The 22-seater serves a tight menu of neo bistro fare that focuses on Mediterranean flavors with an Asian twist.

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Expect the unexpected: surf n’ turf oyster tartare paired with Te Mana lamb and shaved parmesan tartare; shepherd’s purse and ricotta ravioli; Shaoxing wine soaked-raisin studded rice pudding. In the spring, they plan to expand seating into their outdoor terrace, giving them room to grow with the seasons. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Real quick interjection about Pirata, they are leaving behind their recent spot in the somewhat stale Columbia Circle and reopening soon on Xingfu Lu. The menu will stay essentially the same, because why would you ever change something that good?

Image courtesy of Black Rock

The Shake team (Colin Tait and Danyi Gao) have collaborated with whisky bar Black Rock, opening its first location outside of London, right here in Shanghai. The emphasis is on flavor, with all whiskeys divided into tasting categories – smoke, sweet, spice, fragrant, fruit and balance – acting as the gateway into whisky for anyone that aspires to understand the category better.

With Colin on board, of course we can expect well-balanced cocktails, and Danyi is bringing it with a smattering of drinking snacks and a fairly expansive cheese pairing selection. Doors opened just this week, so put this one on the list for first stops of 2022.

Image courtesy of Pizzeria S

Image courtesy of Pizzeria S

On the topic of cheese, you can get excited for a lot more of it at Scarpetta's new sister restaurant, Pizzeria S. The boutique restaurant, in the style of Capri in Southern Italy, with a hint of Japanese influence, offers limited seats for lunch and dinner.

The food – as one can surmise from the name – focuses on pizza. There is some overlap with Scarpetta's menu, but we look forward to tasting our way through a handful of new dishes, especially the pizza that they claim is better than Scarpetta's (already one of our favorites in the city). 

AMix Bistro & Bar recently opened where Lost Bakery used to be on Julu Lu. While you may not have heard of this one before, you’ve surely heard of the import shop Alex, a place to pickup everything the avocado lady has and then some, with stores sprinkled throughout downtown.

Well, it’s the same owners; they are now just branching out their product sales into the culinary world. No surprise here, the food has a Western focus; they’ve already got that import hookup. 

WechatIMG1061.jpegImage courtesy of The Showroom

The Showroom, a premium Italian cocktail bar “hidden” in the center of Shanghai (on Jiaozhou Lu), is in soft opening this month. The intimate 50-seater is a creative project by two Italians (Edoardo and Oscar) and a New Zealand Chinese (Richard).

The space is separated into eight colorful rooms and private suites, showcasing contemporary art, design and architecture as a backdrop for the curated cocktail and wine list.  

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The first proper Vietnamese BBQ joint in Shanghai is about to open next month. Grill by Bun Cha Cha, situated on Yongjia Lu (in the same complex as Colca), is a sister restaurant to the beloved Bun Cha Cha (by Danyi Gao, also of Shake) that now has multiple locations in Shanghai. Think Korean BBQ, but with Vietnamese herbs, spices and sauces, like you'd expect hidden in the backstreets of Saigon.

We’ve heard this will be as much of a drinking spot as it will be an eating hangout – with all varieties of Southeast Asian spirits, beer, mijiu and soju being sipped late into the night. Construction is still underway, with a tentative open date just before Chinese New Year. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Shaughnessy, one of our new favorite “if you know, you know” steakhouses, will be opening a sushi restaurant in the same building on Huaihai Lu. Expect omakase sets clocking in around RMB1,500 a head, featuring top quality imported sashimi and meat.

If it’s anything like Shaughnessy, or the owner’s other Japanese restaurant Roppongi in Shenzhen, we are counting down the seconds until opening, set for January.

READ MORE: Foreplay Part I: Shaughnessy Steakhouse Has Got Sultry Allure 

Image courtesy of Sakemate

Chef Gabo (Anarkia) recently revamped the menu concept at Sakemate, adding his own personal twist to the Nikkei Japanese-cum-Peruvian plates. The team is also updating the wine list, offering a wider variety with more pocket-friendly options, plus monthly wine pairing dinners. 

Speaking of Anarkia and Chef Gabo, the team closed down the original Changle Lu location last summer, changed the concept, and are now reopening (in the same spot) as a partnership with the DOCANNED brand. Bringing a canned-focused style of drinking to Shanghai, it will feature pre-made, canned cocktails by none other than Geo Valdivieso (Zodiac, The Broken Dagger). Food will remain the tried and true Chef Gabo classics. 

Image via Dianping

Mediterranean fusion, gin and wine bar, Empty Jar, launched this month on Xikang Lu, offering daily brunch, lunch, dinner and drinks like shakshuka and hummus paired with coffee or a mid-day tipple. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The Colca Group has expanded further, with the opening of a second Azul Italiano on Moganshan Lu in the finally open 1000 Trees building near M50 Creative Space. The menu seems to be similar to that on the North Bund, but now available closer to downtown. 

READ MORE: Honest, Italian-Inspired Bites at Azul Italiano

Another new northern Jing'an contingency spot is Spread, now open on the corner of Shaanxi Lu and Wuding Lu. Owner Guillaume brought his experience working as GM at two of Shanghai's longest standing French restaurants – Villa Le Bec and Mr & Mrs Bund – together to create this bistro's menu of tartines, soups and salads. 

Union Trading Co. is not closing. We repeat. Do not panic. This World’s Top 48 bar, led by the one and only Yao Lu, is just relocating to new digs, after hosting their last big hoorah, the unofficial after party following the booze industry’s biggest night in China of every year: the Drink Awards. 

Image courtesy of M on the Bund

With the end of the year comes far too many closures. Shuttered doors we were not mentally prepared for.

First up, we all are still working our way through the five stages of grief over the announcement by M on the Bund and Glam earlier this month of their impending closure on February 15. After 23 years, the institution that is M on the Bund – a venue that is so much more than just a restaurant, a beacon of delicious Western cuisine coupled with a modern wine and cocktail list, stylish interiors and warm hospitality – will remain a warm memory.

And, like dominoes falling on the Bund, Atto Primo also bites the dust, closing today, December 30, after seven years of serving fine dining Italian food to the Shanghai community. 

Image courtesy of Kartel

Another longstanding Shanghai stalwart biting the dust in a matter of hours, Kartel is blowing it up big time with a final New Year’s Eve bash before shutting down one of the best rooftops in the city. That view and vibe will be greatly missed. The unisex bathrooms, not so much.

READ MORE: Send Kartel Out in Style with a NYE Champagne Shower!

Image via Flickr

An expectedly big blow, Element Fresh is closing a huge slew of stores across the entire country after filing for bankruptcy earlier this month. On December 14, Element Fresh management announced that, due to great financial difficulties since the pandemic began, the company has sustained unprecedented losses.

Of the 31 stores spread across eight cities in China, it is unclear how many – or if all – will close, and what the timeline is, but the company seems to be making moves quickly. In Shanghai so far, Element Fresh has closed their locations in the Kerry Center, Metro City, Yueda 889, Superbrand Mall and K.Wah.

READ MORE: Element Fresh Files for Bankruptcy 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Happy Place Hospitality Group is bidding adieu to not one, not two, but three venues on December 31: sister venues Bird and Bitter – after a four-year run on Wuyuan Lu – and Egg Zhenning, the venue that opened as Maiya Rice Canteen in August 2020, rebranded as Egg’s second location just a few months ago, and is now being handed over to a new proprietor by the end of the month.

Don’t worry though; the original Egg location on Xiangyang Lu will still remain open as normal.

Image by That's

Hunter Gatherer, one of China’s first health-focused, “green” venues – inspired by the health-conscious, yet laid-back vibes of California – said goodbye to their last outpost in Taikoo Hui on December 4. As one of the first and only places in the city to get hand-pressed to purchase nut butters, this one also really hurts.

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

After being open for less than a year, Dusk Till Dawn is also looking to close its doors after sending out an official WeChat notice releasing venue specs and calling on patrons in the nightlife space to take over the lease.

This speakeasy style, vampire and cult classics-themed bar hidden behind Soi Thai may be every teenage boy's fantasyland, but it wasn't enough to pay the bills. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Another short-lived ice cream spot, Swirlz, sadly didn’t last out the year, closing up shop on Yuyan Lu and already replaced by Russian comfort eats hangout Borsch & Kampot. More to come on the new digs soon. 

Got a hot tip? Feel free to email all juicy rumors to 

Read more Shanghai Food & Drink Gossip.

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