Joye&Sam: The Everything Everywhere All at Once Venue

By Sophie Steiner, April 4, 2023

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The Place

Joye&Sam is ART021 Art Fair founder David Chau's new grocery store / life experience shop / multi restaurant-venue / wine cellar / charcoal grill / nightclub – all in one place in the Hengshan 8 complex. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

DSC07364.jpgImage by Sophie Steiner/That's

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Wow. What?

The space is h-u-g-e – more than 2,000 square meters across multiple levels.

First up, there's the grocery store with over 3,000 products, a coffee shop and a bakery. Each dish on the main level grocery store can also be purchased in packaging to take away and cook on your own later. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The B1 level has a wine cellar, a full Josper oven-outfitted charcoal station and a deli counter – a concept called Bertha & Josper.

There's also Chef Gabo's Anarkia Craft Kitchen, a brand cooperation with Madame Ching serving up playful twists on Asian street food paired with natural and Chinese wines, soju and a highballs, all served from the 'Pool House' bar in the center of the space.

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

There's also a tapas bar. 

And a cheese counter.

And a pescatarian restaurant-meets-speakeasy, cloaked behind velour crimson curtains.

And a live DJ on weekends.

With a dance club.

It's a looooot. 

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

But in a trendy, high-end food court kind of way, where you still want to dress up because you never know whose eye might catch yours.

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The B1 level venues are opening in waves.

First there was Anarkia x Madame Ching that opened in February, a concept Shanghai is somewhat familiar with from when Anarkia was situated in United Valley. 

Next came Bertha & Josper – the focus of this here article.

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Then, in the coming weeks, Chef Gabo (the man behind the magic for all of the Joye&Sam food concepts) will be transitioning his attention to the tapas bar and pescatarian restaurant, so look forward to the official launch of those ASAP.

So, onto Bertha & Josper – a flame-focused locus that sees the marriage between Bertha – a UK brand charcoal oven that is all about the slow and smoky – and Josper – a unique piece of kit that allows food to be barbequed over charcoal and baked at the same time. It is to proteins what the sixth gear is to a Ferrari.

So this match-made-in-heaven is pure fire. 

The Food 

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“Charcoal makes everything sexy,” says Chef Gabo, directly searing a piece of otoro tuna with a smoking briquette of charcoal, “so there is no bite we offer that doesn’t come in contact with a smoldering flame.”

From hot to cold appetizers, from pickled side dishes to seared steaks to dessert, there’s a pluming smoky tendril that curls its way into everything. 

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Begin with fire-roasted kale and romaine, soft-boiled eggs flecked with smoked bacon and shaved parmesan, all dribbled with house-made Caesar dressing as the Kalesar (RMB108)

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A side of Gabo Bread (RMB38) – a reinterpretation of an Itaewon street snack in Seoul – is sliced like a sectioned orange and shmeared with garlic cream cheese before being toasted over open flame.

Ideal fodder for soaking up that extra dressing.

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Chef Gabo continues to plays with ingredients, pushing boundaries on (mis)conceptions of what a particular dish can be and how specific ingredients can be interpreted.

Case in point, the A3 Snow Dragon Beef Tartar Churro (RMB118) – an ingenious take on steak and potatoes that sees a fried potato churro encasing a molten mashed potato core, piped with avocado cream and finished with smoked black caviar. 

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Or for the seafood fanatics, the Surimi & Churros (RMB98) from Anarkia x Madame Ching sees the same crunchy potato masterpiece topped with a sweet crab meat, garlic mayo and sriracha cream.

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The Potato & Bottarga (RMB78) is satisfying starches in the purest of forms – Bertha-roasted smashed potatoes smothered in a thick eggplant and soy milk emulsion, dusted with shaved homemade sea urchin bottarga for a less fishy and more kissed-by-flames finish.

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Expect to find elevated Cantonese roast duck – in shredded meat and crispy chip-like skin forms – when hoovering the Duck Rice (RMB198).

But the prize is the smoke-imbued fat-speckled goose liver sausage from Guangdong and lip-pucker-inducing pickled gooseberries. 

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Sichuan Pepper Confit Cod Collar (RMB118) is painted with Singaporean crab curry cream and paired with uber-tart curling ribbons of preserved (and, of course, smoked) celeriac salad.

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As Bertha & Josper is all about the fire, it’s no shocker that the majority of the menu is charcoal-roasted steaks, with Ranger Valley M3 Top Rounds (RMB488/350 grams), M5 Sirloins and Ribeyes (RMB598-1,088/300-500 grams), as well as a smattering of A3 Ribeye and Tenderloins (RMB688-1,288/300-500 grams).

Plus – the big daddy – a Chef’s Cut of Dry-Aged Wagyu M5 Double Bone-In Ribeye (RMB2,750), smoked and served with two sides, chimichurri sauce and uni butter. 

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We sprang for the A3 Tenderloin with Smoked Kombu (RMB688/300 grams), the meat marinated in a Peruvian anticucho sauce and lightly smoked over a kombu seaweed leaf – one that infuses extra sea salt and notes of iron-forward minerality into the meat – along with fragrant cherry wood. 

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For dessert, the Anarkia x Madame Ching menu’s Cheesecake (RMB68, add RMB58 for caviar) is not your conventional New York-style pie.

Made with tangy and ultra-lush goat cheese rather than cream cheese, the cake is popped in the smoker so that it oozes and melts, while the top blisters and caramelizes.

It can also be paired with smoked caviar for an added dose of oceanic salinity.

This is a souped-up alternative to your savory cheeseboard dessert, an indulgent meal end that is worth every last calorie. 

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As for drinks, the wine program sees more than 500 varietals from across the globe – spanning Old World countries like France, Italy, Spain and Greece to New World offerings like Chile, Argentina and China – with most bottles falling in the range of RMB250-450.

Like a retail shop, the space is conducive to perusing the grocery aisle-displayed selection, grabbing the bottle that interests you most and going from there, ordering snacks from any of the venues along the way. 

There's also a novel cocktail program, featuring whimsical flavor profiles like Beef Gravy Tomato (RMB98), Smashed Cucumber (RMB88) and Salted Prune (RMB98).

The Vibe

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As it’s an upscale, glorified grocery store food court, one can expect to find a variety of seating and lighting options to fit any occasion, from casual to intimate – hightops, bar seats, chef’s table spots, shared tables, small rounds, and standing room near the DJ... who quickly makes you forget that you entered the space by passing a fresh fruit display and imported candy aisle upstairs.

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

The low lighting, beat thumping, and smoke twirling space, coupled with the multi-venue concept, make it easy to lose track of time, bouncing between the different “locales” for a change of scenery (and new menu option) without having to call a Didi.

Ideal for a casual weekday catchup over wine to a full-on date night weekend dinner, this hip hangout fits the Hengshan 8 development bill, a complex that leans more lifestyle.

Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

Price: RMB200-600 (depending on how much drinking is at play)
Who’s Going: Chef Gabo loyalists; well to do Chinese and expats; the curious foodie contingency
Good For: Weekday catchups over wine; date-night steak-filled dinners; smoke consumption in all forms

Joye&Sam, 8 Hengshan Lu, by Wulumuqi Lu 衡山路8号锦和越界, 近乌鲁木齐路.

Read more Shanghai Restaurant Reviews.

[Cover image by Sophie Steiner/That's]

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