Shanghai Food & Drink Gossip: July 2023

By Sophie Steiner, July 27, 2023

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It’s that time of the month again.

(No, not that time.)

It's time for your monthly serving of new restaurants, bars and tasty gossip tidbits.

This month we are doling out that juicy, juicy gossip, but only in tapas sizes as summer has so far been on the slow side.

No complaints. We could all use some portion control. 

First up, after years – yes years – of delays, the two-Michelin-starred and consistently World's 50 Best ranked restaurant Narisawa from Tokyo finally opened up in Shanghai’s 1000 Trees on Moganshan Lu in July.

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Image courtesy of Narisawa

With a strong focus on food sustainability, Chef Yoshihiro Narisawa-san aims to gain a deeper understanding of how Chinese culture has influenced the Japanese diet over time, and demonstrate his strong appreciation for the interconnectivity of both cuisines through his own cooking at the Shanghai location. 

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Image courtesy of Narisawa

Using local Chinese ingredients, imported proteins from Japan, and a mix of modern cooking techniques, the menu takes diners through varying altitudes of Japan’s geography to present diners with naturalistic “satoyama cuisine” – meaning food from the areas between the mountains and flat lands. 

INS is a new nightlife hotspot, a nightclub- and bar-stacked building in Fuxing Park. The venue currently has four open clubs – Radi, La Fin, Playground and Hush – each boasting a totally different vibe, crowd, and music, with more on the way. 

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Image by Sophie Steiner/That's

A lot more.

More clubs, more restaurants, more KTVs, and – most anticipated – the return of Sober Company

Shanghai’s once top-rated bar (No. 5 bar on the 2021 Asia’s 50 Best Bar list), Sober Company shocked the city when they closed unexpectedly in June of 2022.

READ MORE: Sober Company Becomes 1st Big F&B Casualty of Shanghai Lockdown

The Shingo Gokan-owned (Speak Low) three-floor establishment, which opened in 2017 at 99 Yandang Lu, consisted of three sections – Sober Cafe, Sober Kitchen and Japanese-style bar Sober Society – and was a regular fixture on the Asia's 50 Best Bars and World's 50 Best Bars lists, appearing in Asia's 50 Best Bars for six consecutive years and World's 50 Best Bars for three consecutive years.

Now, after much anticipation, the team is back at it, with popups going on every Friday and Saturday evening from 7pm-2am at INS on Yandang Lu as a precursor to their soft opening, set for some time after summer.

(Fingers crossed it’s this fall; we can’t wait any longer for that delectable Coffee Milk Punch!)

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Image via @bncshanghai Instagram

Another comeback, neighborhood bar BNC over on Xikang Lu celebrated their grand reopening a couple of weekends ago, with comedian and all-round Awesome Kid Jorge Castellanos (above, right) one of the people behind its revival.

READ MORE: Comedian Jorge Castellanos on Amusing Adults & Educating Kids

Think Cheers vibes but Shanghai-ified – there’s billiards, picklebacks, martinibacks, sourbacks, and the like. Lots of memories to be made (and forgotten) here.

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Image courtesy of KYOKY

Along the Bund, in a century-old historical building, KYOKY recently opened, serving “washoku” – or traditional Japanese cuisine, focusing on elegance, simplicity, and culinary artistry.

The team is led by Chef Zhu Weiwen with 28 years of kaiseki cuisine experience under his belt and a philosophy of the “KYOKY spirit” – a pursuit of perfection and culinary excellence. 

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Image courtesy of Harrods Shanghai

As you’ve no doubt already read on every food blog and WeChat account in town (including ours), Harrods Shanghai is opening a Private Member’s Club, The Residence, housed in the impressive Cha House in Taikoo Hui.

And it will be offering its members world-class dining from one of the most famous chefs and TV personalities on the planet, Gordon Ramsay.

Gordon Ramsay at The Residence Shanghai will be the chef’s first ever destination in Shanghai, and will offer elevated British dining and be inspired by the social nature of the club.

The bad news for us mere mortals? It will only be available to members of The Residence (of which only 250 will be accepted) and their guests.

READ MORE: Gordon Ramsay at Harrods Shanghai New Private Members' Club

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Image via Dianping

Hai Shang is a high-end Chinese-French-Nordic contemporary fusion restaurant on Huaihai Zhong Lu. 

Helmed by restaurateur and avid traveler Chef Eddie Huwang and Wu Bin, this set menu restaurant offers up a 12-course dinner for RMB2,000 a head, with seating for just 14 people per night. 

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Image via Dianping

The aptly named Sichuan Fusion Tapas serves up just that, on Nanjing Xi Lu.

Served mostly in smaller portions made for sharing, the menu takes a contemporary approach to Sichuan cuisine, pairing traditional flavors with uncommon ingredients.

Think things like Steak and Fermented Tofu Tartar, Beer Braised Duck on a Youtiao, or Sichuan Pepper-Flavored Pigeon with Sherry and Brandy Jus.

Be prepared to be unprepared. 

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Image via Dianping

Alors... is a modern Chinese wine bistro that opened in early summer in the OG Tianzifang, just down Gate 1.

Backed by wine expert Franklin Chiang (Next Bottle), Chef Bingjia and designer Ting Ting, the trio all previously studied in France, and have built a connection between French and Chinese cuisines and culture, right here in Shanghai.

The wine program is 100% French, with 70% natural wines and 30% conventional wines, plus no shortage of champagne, obviously. 

And the name? It comes from the commonly used filler word "alors..." that is used by many a French person without realizing, meaning "so, then, well."

A word that is so simple, yet embodies an integral part of the French language – the same ethos the team aims to capture in their venue. 

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Image courtesy of Joker & Joker

Speaking of new bars, Joker & Joker is a poker-themed high-end, molecular-gastronomy-style cocktail bar on Wuding Lu, across from Barbarian and Sip.

The menu also sees modern Shanghainese-style snacks designed by Maodou Ayi – expect the likes of fried duck tongue, scallion oil noodles, beef tongue, fried chicken wings, and fried fish, plus truffle fries and sweet potato fries. 

While last month we reported about Hengshan 8 closures (the Joye&Sam B1 restaurants – read about it here), this month we have a Hengshan 8 opening, in the form of Waza Modern Izakaya.

Departing from typical izakaya fare, Waza serves up charcoal grilled mains coupled with French culinary techniques, an atypical – yet interesting – take on Japanese street food. 

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Image courtesy of HALO

Like falling face (and stomach) first into a futuristic fantasy videogame, HALO is an immersive, multi-sensory dining experience that challenges the concept of what a traditional restaurant can be.

Located on the 7th floor of the aptly named AI Plaza in Xujiahui, upon entry guests are greeted by interactive 3D digital art installations, coupled with equally imaginative food and drinks. 

It’s a whole sci-fi space odyssey meets cyberpunk art vibe.

READ MORE: HALO: An 'Out of This World' Immersive Art Dining Experience

DSC01605.jpgImage by Sophie Steiner/That's

An ode to the American backyard BBQ – but with Chinese nuances – Smokey Project opened in the old Fan Tang food court space on Yanping Lu just over a month ago, serving up a roster of slow-roasted brisket, ribs, BBQ sides, and the like.

Like a BBQ drive-thru, Smokey Project has counter seating for 10, plus a few bench seats outside – for after the sweltering heat (and typhoons) have passed. 

It’s moreso a grab-and-go or delivery spot, fitting for a quick pop-in rather than a date night.

READ MORE: Confirm Your Carnivore Status at USA BBQ Joint Smokey Project


Got a hot tip? Feel free to email all juicy rumors to sophiesteiner@thatsmags.com. 

Read more Shanghai Food & Drink Gossip.

[Cover image via tricycle.org]

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