Year of the Ox Recap: New Restaurant & Bar Openings – L-P

By Sophie Steiner, January 29, 2022

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And so we bid adieu to the Year of the Ox – a wild ride of high highs and low lows. Yet, the show must go on, and that means enjoying it in the way we know best – through good food and and plenty of drink. Here is an A to Z recap of some of the major restaurants and bars that had the tenacity to open as China's borders remained closed. See Part I herePart II here, Part III here, Part V here and Part VI here.

LatinLand

The second floor of Shanghai Brew House in Wheelock Square has been converted into LatinLand – a collaboration between Bourbon Group and LatinLand festival and events company. The space used to be 10 Corso Como, a hip multi-level bookstore, but now it’s all things dedicated to Latin America – from Peruvian lomo salatado to Colombian empanadas to Chilean Pisco sours, all flowing out of the kitchen and bar to the beats of reggaetón, salsa, bachata and merengue.

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The atmosphere screams beach vacay – something all of us need right about now – with custom projectors creating visuals of moving waves that lead up to the ‘swim-up’ Besame Mucho-branded bar. Lounge ‘beachside’ under a straw umbrella, sipping on any of the 20 holiday-inspired cocktails created by Head Bartender Artëm Zuev, and as evening turns into night, prepare to bust out your best dance moves as the restaurant is transformed into a full on discoteca

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The kitchen is manned by the two Hugos – consulting Chef Hugo Rodriguez (FunkadeliHeat) and Head Chef Hugo Sazón, churning out South and Central American comfort eats like it’s their job. Oh wait, it is. 

Read a full review here. See a listing for LatinLand.

Machi

A transplant from Melbourne, Machi is riding the Asian fusion train, set on a Japanese cuisine track. Opened by partners David Qui and Michael Mi, this is actually the fourth restaurant owned by the duo, but the first of its kind in China.

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The space is notably – and purposefully – small, to mimic a ‘pop-up’ feel; seating only 22, over half of the spots encircle an open sushi bar.

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The menu shares a number of dishes with its sister location down under, as the Melbourne sous chef, David Zhang, has come up to lead up the kitchen here in Shanghai. Dishes lean towards lighter, with strong umami undertones running throughout – flavorful, without being overly filling.

It’s sleek, dim and sexy – three necessary components of an ideal date spot.

Read a full review hereSee a listing for Machi.

Maolago

It’s a bold move to name a restaurant after a vine tomato. But when a restaurant’s signature dish is all about showcasing said Guizhou-grown vine tomato that forms the base of the region’s most famously addicting fermented sour, spicy fish soup, then we get it. 

Maolago, the newest venture from the Oha Group (Oha EateryDead PoetBar No. 3Pass Residence404), is a sanctuary to all things Guizhou comfort food, with an emphasis on Miao cooking heritage.

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Residing in the space that used to be Daga Brewpub on Fuxing Lu, and decked out by OHA Design, this three-in-one concept: Bar Maolago on the first floor – focusing on a wide selection of low interference wines from around the world, as well as cocktails and small plates; Guizhou hotpot dining on the second floor; and a terrace plus rooftop herb and vegetable garden on the third floor, that grows seasonal produce to compliment the menu. 

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Chef Zou Mingyang, who worked with and learned from Blake Thornley at Oha Eatery, is behind the menu’s inventive design. Where Oha Eatery can sometimes go off the deep end – think smoked ham covered in moss and fried tree bark – Maolago is more refined, with a strong focus on honoring regional ingredients. 

Maolago is not another 'modern Chinese' restaurant where the aim is to make food more appealing to Western palates, insinuating that Chinese cuisine – as is – isn’t good enough. It’s the opposite; showcasing how memorable and distinct Guizhou food, a mostly unexplored cuisine by the average Shanghaier, can be by utilizing air-transported local produce and region-specific vegetables to make the entire experience as authentic as possible. 

Read a full review here. See a listing for Maolago. 

La Mezcaleria

One of the most anticipated openings of the year, La Mezcaleria, launched with the largest mezcal selection in all of China.

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Partners Alyssa Cockrell, Macià Monterde Combaret and Chef Marco Chavez Jaime (previously of PoluxThe Chop Chop Club and Mr & Mrs Bund), along with GM Nico Yang (The Shanghai Edition), simultaneously opened La Barra – a club-lounge, Tacos El Paisa – a taco bar, Bonica – a Mediterranean grill and Loggia – a cafe, all in the same multi-functional space designed by Daniel Uribe and Francisco Nicolas from Ortiz Leon.

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La Mezcaleria is an homage to all things Mexico, but not in the exaggerated, trite manner you’d expect – there are no paintings of Frida Kahlo, no sombreros nor imagery of mariachi bands. Instead, it is warm lighting – mostly emitted from flickering candles that illuminate exposed brick walls – wooden detailing and a live maguey plant – what liquid agave is processed from – affixed inside an actual table. 

La Mezcaleria focuses fully on – no surprise here – mezcal. With over 70 SKUs currently available, the number will increase monthly as new varieties arrive, all imported via collaborating partner, Mestizo. Cocktails highlight the many different flavor profiles one can experience in mezcal, with a menu curated by Mark Lloyd (J. Boroski).

Read a full review hereSee a listing for La Mezcaleria

Mezcalito

Mezcalito, a new Mexican bistro focused on all things taco and mezcal, just soft opened in the old Dodu spot on Changshu Lu. It's backed by Hugo de Mondragon (DoduEspíritu), who is going full in on the agave plant front with his second mezcal-themed venue.

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The downstairs seating has been rearranged to allow for more group seating and standing around the bar, a now central theme of the space’s concept. And with that comes a variety of mezcal-focused sips in every form – long drinks, cocktails and alcohol-spiked bevvies to be enjoyed with casual eats, available on weekends until 2am. 

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Other than some lighting changes, a colorful paint job, an updated playlist and a spit for roasting al pastor pork, the layout is still the same as the Dodu we knew and loved, now just with some Mexican flare. The upside is that the new concept works for both daytime and into the evening. Tacos for lunch or tacos late night? Both are a win in our book. 

Read a full review here. See a listing for Mezcalito.

Mikkeller Xintiandi

The Danish brewery and beer brand Mikkeller made its way to China last year, with its first location off Yanping Lu. With over 20 taps, a beyond extensive bottle list and every weekend events appealing to any interest imaginable, it's no surprise that this beer outpost has garnered quite the following.

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Riding on the taproom’s success, Mikkeller – led in China by Martin Aamodt (previously of InfernoRoxie and Stone Brewing) – just opened a second spot, Mikkeller Xintiandi, in the old El Luchador space. Split across two levels, the beer bar features Danish comfort food for brunch, lunch and dinner, along with spirits, wine and champagne. 

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The main floor sees 10 well-curated beers on tap, along with a fully stocked beer fridge sporting upwards of 60 different varieties of imported cans and bottles – living up to its reputation as a beer nerd mecca. 

Mikkeller Xintiandi's food menu is all about paying homage to Nordic comfort eats. This is the kind of food your Danish grandma would serve you (if you had one). 

Read a full review hereSee a listing for Mikkeller Xintiandi.

Mi Mian Hui Xin

But dim sum within Shanghai’s dining scene spans the gamut, with everything from dingy hole-in-the-walls crammed with angry ayis rolling pushcarts over your toes, to upscale Michelin star restaurants where steamer baskets are placed atop pristine white tablecloths by waiters wearing equally crisp white gloves. 

Enter Mi Mian Hui Xin in Wukang Market a middle of the road, everyday dim sum and Hong Kong diner focusing on nailing the classics with just a few surprises. 

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The woman behind the scenes is none other than Michelle Zhou (Mi Thai) who also has her hand in Wagas, as the owner's wife. 

The menu is large, spanning steamed and fried dim sum, roasted meats, diner fare, sharing plates, Canto soups, desserts and drinks. Whether someone of Cantonese descent would fully approve of the state of dim sum at this diner is up in the air, but the fact remains that, regardless of rustic authenticity, it’s tasty. 

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Not necessarily transcendent, but the range is laudable, with classics well represented – steaming baskets of pork fat-filled, thin-skinned xiaolongbao, crimped shrimp wontons bathed in chili oil, pleated har gow, diced pork belly tightly wrapped in a translucently thin rice roll and crispy fried cubes of radish cake robed in crustacean-flecked XO drizzle.

Mi Mian Hui Xin is more upmarket, yet unpretentious, welcoming for anything from casual dates to large gatherings. 

Read a full review hereSee a listing for Mi Mian Hui Xin

Pici

Italian comfort food seemed to be the it trend of summer, and Pici, a Hong Kong chain that expanded to Shanghai as part of the Pirata Group, fits right in. Opened in the Jing’an Kerry Centre, the made-fresh-daily pasta at wallet-friendly prices makes up for the fact that you’re in a mall basement. 

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General Manager Borja Martinez Otero is running the show, a member of the team from Pici’s very first location, while Hong Kong-based chef Andrea Viglione set up the kitchen and ensured consistency with their other nine outposts. 

The concept is as straightforward as the food – honest Italian comfort eats your nonna would make in a fast, casual setting to satisfy both the lunch and dinner crowd. 

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Shanghai sees Pici and The Pizza Project come together in one space where diners can order from both ‘venues’ to the same table. Originally designed just for takeout, diners caught a whiff of that pizza-oven charred crust and wanted a slice or two for themselves. Happily obliging, the two became one for all that carb consumption in the same sitting. 

Read a full review hereSee a listing for Pici.

Pizzeria S

Shanghai institution Scarpetta is branching out with a new sister restaurant, Pizzeria S. The boutique venue, in the style of Capri in Southern Italy with a hint of Japanese influence, offers limited seats for lunch and dinner.

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The open pizza kitchen is outfitted with bar seating, allowing diners to witness the magic, taking in the yeasty scent of rolled out dough and bubbling cheese, curving around to the bar, were guests can sip on aperitvos or digestifs, depending on the time of day. Outfitted in warm hues of cream, dusty rose, light wood accents and plants abound, the domed ceilings – inspired by Italian cathedral architecture – add to the airy feel, with views of the Huangpu River. 

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As one can surmise from the name – the restaurant focuses on pizza, with two upgraded state-of-the-art pizza ovens affording each pie’s crust the ideal balance between crispy and light. There is some overlap with Scarpetta's menu, but quite a few new lighter plates, fitting the brightly lit, café-style space.  

See a listing for Pizzeria S.


To read the full Year of the Ox New Restaurant & Bar Openings Recap click here or scan the QR code:

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