Global Skewers & Soft Serve Sundaes at Paul Pairet's Charbon

By Sophie Steiner, January 6, 2023

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The Place 

Fire and ice unite together in Paul Pairet’s (Mr. & Mrs. Bund, Polux, Ultraviolet) latest venture, Charbon, a mecca dedicated curiously to all things global skewers and soft serve ice cream.

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Taking over The Cut’s two-level space in iapm Mall, this superior Malliard-charred meat spot is anything but your neighborhood chuar joint.

Charbon is the French word for 'charcoal grill,' and fire became the muse for the warm, earth tones found throughout the venue.

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Maintaining a similar premium feel to the now defunct The Cut, Charbon’s décor features dark wood, subdued Edison-lightbulb illumination and comfy flame-hued seating to curl up into as you slip further into a meat coma. 

The Food 

The focus is meat skewers with flavors that span the globe, Middle-Eastern-esque mezze snacks and soft serve ice cream sundaes available in whimsical flavor combinations. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

If you are more than two people or in a bulking and hulking phase, we highly suggest the Large Mezze (RMB140), a smattering of small plates of tahini-forward hummus and house-baked toasted foccacia; tomato, red onion and mint salad; juicy Japanese green hamigua melon served with nar – or narsharab in Azerbaijan – an acidic pomegranate juice molasses; charred piquillo peppers; and creamy cucumber mint labneh – a soft Middle Eastern cheese made from strained yogurt.

You can also mix and match many of these starters beginning around RMB50 a pop. 

The main event is the skewers – of which there are more than 20 to choose from – spanning beef, pork, lamb, chicken and seafood. Prices range from RMB50 to upwards of RMB300. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The different protein cuts are marinated in the diners’ choice of sauce – Japanese tare, Malaysian satay, Thai nam jim, Japanese miso, Italian black truffle or Middle Eastern shish kebab spices – and served with paired dipping condiments, like miso tahini yogurt, black sesame, soy lemon aioli, peanut satay, sambal aioli or Singapore pepper – plus fresh herbs and blistered flatbread wraps. 

The idea is to fill each wrap with meat, sauce and herbs before rolling it like a taco and taking it to pound town. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

A few of the skewers – namely the Pork Iberico Loin Satay (RMB80) and the Beef Shish Kofta (RMB70) really stood out as must orders across our table of diners. But on the flip side, a few others missed the mark. 

The thick round of Beef Tongue Tare (RMB80) arrived with minimal char to cut through the softness of the meat, and the Octopus Tare (RMB90) left a lingering fishiness that had us questioning freshness. We’ll chalk it up to growing pains. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

As for the soft serve, there are eight to choose from, that can be enjoyed on their own, mixed with other flavors, served in a shake (with or without booze) or as a sundae.

The combination of savory sweet undertones found in the Caramel & Caramel Sundae (RMB90) had us licking the glass clean – a twirl of caramel butter soy ice cream, sprinkled with crushed biscuits, candied pecans and caramel popcorn. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The gelato-like Lemon Curd Ice Cream (RMB50) presented tangy lemon mellowed by a noticeable egg yolk creaminess, and the subtly nutty Pistachio Ice Cream (RMB70) had us day dreaming of warm fall nights in Italy. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Libations play to the casual, value-driven drinking crowd – a variety of highballs (RMB50-70), classic cocktails (RMB60-70), and NA drinks and juices (RMB45-50), plus tap beer and wine (RMB40-60).  

The Vibe

While Charbon is very much a Paul Pairet restaurant – detail-oriented, friendly service, playfully thoughtful dishes, and a unique concept that couldn’t exist elsewhere – you’re still in a mall, and that’s hard to forget. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

But, the bonus comes in with the rooftop. If you’ve lived in Shanghai for more than the last year, you are familiar with The Cut’s unsurpassed terrace view.

If you’ve missed that skyline, don’t worry, the seventh-floor rooftop will open soon, offering up afternoon tea and late-night dinner servings of the same menu downstairs. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Fancy crushing some 1am flame-licked skewers after finishing a movie in the IAPM theater or drinking at any of the bars nearby? This is your sweet spot. 

Price: RMB200-400
Who’s Going: iapm Mall shoppers, Paul Pairet fans, die-hard soft serve ice cream enthusiasts (versus those who tote ‘gelato or bust’)
Good For: Skewered meat consumption, tummy refills post-shopping, appeasing groups that can’t decide between Japanese, Singaporean, Thai or Middle Eastern for dinner tonight

Charbon, iapm Mall, L6-606, 999 Huaihai Zhong Lu, by Shaanxi Nan Lu  环贸iapm商场, 淮海中路999号环贸广场L6-606, 近陕西南路

[Cover image by Sophie Steiner/That's]

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