Year of the Ox Recap: New Restaurant & Bar Openings – R-S

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 here, Part II herePart III here, Part IV here and Part VI here.

Roma

Gregarious Giampaolo de Santis (ZozzoPorcellino) is living out his dream of opening a casual neighborhood Italian hangout plus alimentari supermarket – an all-purpose mini shop where everything is made from scratch. Its name is Roma, and it is now open on Kangding Lu. 

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The design is super industrial chic: exposed ceiling piping, concrete walls illuminated by globular orb lighting, low-hanging Edison bulbs intertwined with a terrarium-esque display of suspended greenery and backlit arches, a common design motif throughout the restaurant that pays homage to the Colosseum of Giampaolo’s hometown of Rome.

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Consulting chef Andrea Calducci (executive chef of 101 Centuono in the Shanghai Tower) is helping to offer a range of dishes that take diners on a journey through Italy. 

Roma feels like a neighborhood spot – in Shanghai, in New York, hell, even in Rome; it just feels like you’ve been here before, and that’s comforting. This isn’t where you'd go to party. It’s not a place to wow a business client. But it’s not going to give you sticker shock when the bill comes either. 

Read a full review hereSee a listing for Roma.

Rozo

Rozo is a chic spot with a tight menu of Latin-inspired plates accented by a creative Asian touch. The wine cellar in the back offers just over 100 distinct vintages, exhibited on shelves like rare books in the most treasured kind of library. The only thing missing is a rolling ladder to reach those tippity top ledges. 

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Operating partner Matthieu Thomas (Must GrillBlancheDr. WineRaw Eatery), along with three friends, came up with the idea to open a wine bar that they themselves would like to hang out at. Together with business partner Alex Souzy, he designed the mainly French wine program. However – to be clear – this is not the focus. In fact, there is no set focus of the wine program. “Whatever we try and like, we stock. Simple as that,” offers Matthieu, in between sips of a punchy Cabernet from Loire Valley. 

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The menu is tight – 10 dishes plus meat and cheese platters, and the plan is only to add a handful more in the coming months. Like the wine program, the food, designed by consulting chef Carlos Sotomayor (Blue Plate Consulting), is direct and to the point. 

Read a full review here. See a listing for Rozo

Sakaba Malabar

Malabar shut its doors back in June after being open for nine years, but – don’t worry – it was just for a short stint of renovation and rebirth that has now bestowed upon us Sakaba Malabar.

While design and layout have been upgraded, Malabar's core energy still remains the same, housed in a chic lounge setting that converges around a communal, elliptically shaped bar crowned with hanging glassware.

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The name Sakaba, loosely translating to “bar” in Japanese, represents said Japanese influence, while the beloved Spanish roots name of Malabar remains, converging in Sakaba Malabar to embody what the concept is all about – Japanese meets Spanish in food, beverage and social dining atmosphere.  

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The Spanish tapas menu, developed by executive chef and co-owner Juan Campos (RAW Eateryand his sister, head chef Ana Campos, has a Japanese thread running through it, in the form of ingredients, flavor profile and inspiration. 

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Drinks are curated by Yao Lu (Union Trading Company), combining bold Spanish tastes with high-quality Japanese ingredients.

Read a full review here. See a listing for Sakaba Malabar.

Shanghai Love

What started out as a craft beer brewery known as Shanghai Love has evolved over the last five years into a beverage brand with a full lineup of spirits, mixed drinks and bottled bevvies, and even further into a lifestyle brand encompassing large-scale beer festivals, charity events and – most recently – a brick-and-mortar restaurant in Fengsheng Li, where White Castle used to be. 

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However, unlike your typical taproom sporting pub grub, owner Kia Parsai is interested in fine dining, centering around Asian tapas designed by consulting chef Michael Janczewski (Juke, Canton Disco). The restaurant also embodies the ‘support local’ motto, offering only Chinese beers, wines and ingredients sourced mainly from China, Japan and Southeast Asia. 

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The cocktail menu, curated by Sean Shao (Atelier, Taste Buds), follows in the same vein, with each drink highlighting a key Asian product or flavor profile. Plus, no surprise here, the 12 Shanghai Love beers on tap are brewed in – you guessed it – Shanghai. 

Read a full review here. See a listing for Shanghai Love.

Shaughnessy Restaurant & Bar

Picture an expansive Sopranos-chic space packed with Shanghai’s glitziest and most glam expense accounters. The type of people who (pre-COVID) would fly to the Maldives for a midweek golf tournament.

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Floor-to-ceiling windows offer a sprawling view of Shanghai’s downtown, while a low set onyx ceiling guides the eye to a glowing, gold-lit spiral staircase centered on a marble platform, flanked by shelves stacked with more than 400 varietals of wine. 

But this isn’t the first Shaughnessy. Originally opened by Calvin Su and his business partner in Shenzhen in 2018, both outlets are their personal interpretation of a modern, New York-style steakhouse, with a boutique-like, personal touch. 

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We expected the menu to be full of hulking porterhouses and tomahawk chops only the highest or rollers would eat in the privacy of hidden rooms, baked potatoes from some freakishly large alternate universe and knife-stabbed slices of cake big enough for a sumo wrestler’s weigh in.

And it is just that.

Plus a raw bar. And pasta.

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Read a full review hereSee a listing for Shaughnessy.

The Showroom

Walk through an Italian furniture store on Jiaozhou Lu, pull back the velour curtains and enter The Showroom – a Narnia fantasy land of vibrantly bold art, textural installations, lingering scents and trance-like beats, unfolding across a maze of eight different second floor rooms. 

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Co-owned by Richard King – a wine connoisseur with years of F&B experience – Oscar Zuffada – an Italian specializing in F&B and hospitality – and Edoardo Petri – a famous Italian architect focusing on the interplay between design and fashion, the trifecta brings together their areas of expertise to craft a whole better than the sum of its parts. 

The space used to house an old hotel, and with zoning laws that prohibit tearing down walls, the new owners were forced to think imaginatively about a semi-divided space with a long corridor down the middle. Thus, the multi-sensorial room concept was born, presenting Shanghai with an experience it has never had before. And an experience is just what it is. 

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Unlike your average new bar visit, The Showroom is just as much a bar as it is – as the name suggests – a showroom. All things interior design, art, lighting and architecture come into play, so that as you sip your cocktail inspired by that particular room’s eclectic layout, design and distinct fragrance, you can also scan the menu’s QR code to peruse the furniture on which you sit.

We will take another martini, with a side of teal leather-upholstered Italian Gervasoni armchair. 

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Regardless of the room you choose, you will find yourself in a space that can only be explained as a designer’s hallucination, making it admired amongst art collectors, bar dwellers and Instagrammers alike. 

Read a full review hereSee a listing for The Showroom

The Smokehouse x The Camel.

Last year, due to landlord BS (we all know the drill), The Camel was forced to relocate to an arguably better location on the corner of Xiangyang Lu and Changle Lu. After being open for almost a year, Camel Hospitality opted for a massive menu revamp, teaming up with Matty Waters, owner and founder of Smoke KCQ, to launch The Smokehouse x The Camel.

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Surprise, it’s a lot of meats. All the meats. Meat for days. #meatporn. It’s regional agnostic American ‘slow and low’ BBQ (with a strong emphasis on Kansas City, Matty’s hometown) with all the grease-dripping, heart-clogging, finger-lickin’ good fixings that are best enjoyed in Daisy Duke cutoffs or overalls, shotgun in hand. 

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Matty’s first move at The Camel was to install vertical six-rack smokers – laden with aromatic Apple Wood. This is where the magic happens, and this is what the first page of the menu is all about – secret recipe dry-rubbed, no frills smoked meats done right, clearly impressing even the most casual ‘cue eater.

Read a full review hereSee a listing for The Smokehouse x The Camel. 

Soi Thai

Dusk Till Dawn was a new speakeasy hidden behind an also brand spanking new Thai street food cover restaurant called Soi Thai – with legit Thai food. Both venues were brought to you by seasoned restaurateurs Ina Yang (Heat, Botanical Basket), Eric Almazov (Botanical Basket) and Nico Yang (La MezcaleriaBonicaLa Barra).

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The fast, casual food focus was pan-Thai cuisine, meaning that instead of finding more niche plates like northern khao soi and laab, you’d find solid mainstays. Think stir-fried chicken with cashews, pad Thai, papaya salad and pineapple fried rice – the kind of thing you’d grub up on while covered in neon glow paint before heading to a full moon party on Koh Phangan. 

If you were looking for a culinary Thai immersion, look elsewhere. If you were looking for fast, casual Thai in a shotgun-style venue, this was your new favorite lunch hangout. Bonus, they were open late – we’re talking 2am on weekends. So sip up and tuck in, this was a place to hang out at for a while (or so we thought).

A semi-hidden Buddha-painted black door then led you from Thailand to Amsterdam’s red-light district – with a Tokyo twist – at Dusk Till Dawn...

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There, all cocktails focused around cult movie classics or TV characters, with drinks chosen from gaming cards. There were laser lights, cyber punk leather studded trunk tables, vampire glyphs, electronica music and glass skulls full of various infusions lining the wall. Basically, it was every teenage boy’s fantasy come to life, with the welcomed addition of ingenious alcoholic libations. 

But then, suddenly it closed. Like a flash in the pan, we said hello and goodbye to both Soi Thai and Dusk Til Dawn during the Year of the Ox. 

Read a full review hereSee a listing for Dusk Till Dawn and Soi Thai

Something

Something – a brunch café, wine and cocktail lounge and global cuisine-inspired restaurant – is housed in an airy space in Wukang Market. Somehow, each concept works both on its own and as a collective – a textbook example of how the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts. 

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Although seating fits over 80 people, the dining area feels intimate because it's divided ergonomically into four sections – imploring aesthetically pleasing elements like a fish tank filled with succulents or an intricately carved table laden with a multi-tiered candle and floral display. 

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Chef Alexander Bitterling (previously of Hunter Gatherer and Thought for Food) cut his teeth in Thailand, bringing forth flavors from southeast Asia to boldly combine with customarily European plates – resulting in a mixed bag of dishes he refers to as ‘destination cuisine.’  

Read a full review hereSee a listing for Something.


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

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