Three new restaurants. Korean favorites at Halu, Kansas-city barbecue at The Smokehouse, and Indian food at KLAY.

Halu Korean Bistro

Address: 1/F, 222 Jinxian Lu, near Shaanxi Nan Lu 进贤路222号1楼, 近陕西南路
Tel: 13122892212
Hours: Tue-Sun 6pm-1am

Halu is a Korean restaurant in Jing'an, Shanghai. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence

Halu is a Korean bistro that has taken up residence on the first floor of cocktail bar Ars & Delecto on Jinxian Lu. (The cocktail bar is still open for business on the second floor.)

It’s a straightforward one-page menu of all the hits—kimchis, savory fried pancakes, stews, and deep-fried snacks. Korean chef Rosie, who has another location of Halu in Hongqiao, commands the pass.

Halu is a Korean restaurant in Jing'an, Shanghai. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence
Pear Kimchi (¥38) – House-made kimchi with thick sheets of refreshing pear. Great combo.
Halu is a Korean restaurant in Jing'an, Shanghai. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence
Gimbap & Tteokbokki (¥88) – This is a two-part dish. Gimbap, akin to sushi rolls, and a serving of tteokbokki. You’re meant to soak your gimbap into the tteokbokki.
Halu is a Korean restaurant in Jing'an, Shanghai. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence
Tteokbokki – rice cakes and fish cakes fried in gochujang (hot pepper paste).
Halu is a Korean restaurant in Jing'an, Shanghai. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence
Fried Chicken (¥78) – Decent. Served with a sweet-spicy sauce. A bit too much batter for my liking.
Halu is a Korean restaurant in Jing'an, Shanghai. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence
Sausage Stew (¥58) – A very comforting spicy stew of chopped up sausages, tofu, vegetables, and kimchi.
Halu is a Korean restaurant in Jing'an, Shanghai. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence
Cheese Potato Bacon Jeon (¥68) – Korean style pancakes filled with all the good stuff. Crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside. There are also ones with seafood, pork, and beef.
Halu is a Korean restaurant in Jing'an, Shanghai. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence
Octopus Super Spicy Chewy Noodles (¥78) – A tightly packed bowl of salad stuff, gummy rice noodles and tender slices of octopus. Excellent. Would order again.
Halu is a Korean restaurant in Jing'an, Shanghai. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence
You’ll have to mix it like so—it can get messy, but this is how it’s done! (We clearly weren’t mixed it well enough—chef had to step in to assist.)

Drinks situation: Cass and Kirin beers (¥28), soju (¥38), makgelli (¥58), and wines by the bottle from ¥222.

Very enjoyable and quite affordable. Some of the fried foods are prepared behind the bar counter, so you may get some of that “food smell” on your clothes. If it weren’t so busy (because it is rather popular at the moment), I’d probably venture here on a regular basis.


The Smokehouse

Address: 97 Xiangyang Bei Lu, near Xinle Lu 襄阳北路97号, 近新乐路
Tel: 64379446
Hours: 10:30am-2am

The Smokehouse is an American barbecue restaurant in Shanghai that does smoked meats, burgers and sandwiches. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.

Matty Waters, founder of Smoke KCQ has joining forces with The Camel Group to bring Kansas-style barbecue to downtown Shanghai. The Camel on Xiangyang Lu has gotten a rebrand, turning into “The Smokehouse”. The digs inside remain the same—it’s still a sports bar—but the food menu is all Matty’s.

The Smokehouse is an American barbecue restaurant in Shanghai that does smoked meats, burgers and sandwiches. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.

Meats of all kinds including USDA brisket, house-cased sausages, and ribs are smoked on-site. In addition to the barbecue classics, there are also smash burgers, which come stacked with house-ground beef patties and are served with fries and slaw, plus bar bites. Smokehouse also stocks their own house hot sauce with more flavors being developed soon.

The Smokehouse is an American barbecue restaurant and bar in Shanghai that does smoked meats, burgers and sandwiches. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.
KC Brisket Burnt Ends (¥68/100g) – The crisped, charred bits of the brisket.
The Smokehouse is an American barbecue restaurant and bar in Shanghai that does smoked meats, burgers and sandwiches. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.
House-made pork sausages (¥38/150g) with jalapeño cheddar – Excellent. Cased in-house, the sausages will rotate. The standard one is black pepper.
The Smokehouse is an American barbecue restaurant and bar in Shanghai that does smoked meats, burgers and sandwiches. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.
The Classic American (¥88) – Two beef patties, cheese, onion, tomato, lettuce, pickles, ketchup, mustard and mayo. It’s a leaner patty than I’d prefer, but as a whole, it’s not bad at all! It’s a huge portion, like most of the smash burgers on the menu.
The Smokehouse is an American barbecue restaurant and bar in Shanghai that does smoked meats, burgers and sandwiches. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.
Classic Combo (¥98) – Smoked brisket with smoked ham, pickles, bourbon butter onions, KCQ BBQ sauce on a kaiser bun.
The Smokehouse is an American barbecue restaurant and bar in Shanghai that does smoked meats, burgers and sandwiches. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.
Fried Pickles (¥35) – If you haven’t had deep-fried pickles before, this will blow your mind. Excellent bar snack.
The Smokehouse is an American barbecue restaurant and bar in Shanghai that does smoked meats, burgers and sandwiches. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.
Mac n Cheese (¥35) – Just perfect. Not too cheesy and the right portion.
The Smokehouse is an American barbecue restaurant and bar in Shanghai that does smoked meats, burgers and sandwiches. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.
Coleslaw side (¥20) – Just the right amount of tangy acidity. Not overly creamy.
The Smokehouse is an American barbecue restaurant and bar in Shanghai that does smoked meats, burgers and sandwiches. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.
Peach Cobbler (¥48) with vanilla ice cream – Divine. A dessert currently on the specials board.

Overall, the barbecue is good and it’s value for money. They’ve just passed their one-month mark. Like any new opening, it takes time to perfect the craft. And for one so temperamental like barbecue (especially brisket), there’s room for fine tuning. I also like that the sides are petit, which gives you more room to enjoy the mains.

I missed the ribs on my visit, but I’ve only heard great things and hope to go back for those soon.


KLAY

Address: 1124 Beijing Xi Lu, near Shaanxi Bei Lu 北京西路1124号, 近陕西北路
Tel: 52788175
Hours: Mon-Fri 11:30am-2pm, 6-10pm; Sat-Sun 11am-2pm, 6-10pm

KLAY is a modern Indian restaurant and bar in Shanghai. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.

KLAY is a contemporary Indian restaurant led by chef Hardeep Somal. It opened in February (yes, I know I’m a bit late to the game) and has since commanded quite the following. There are also spice-inspired cocktails, courtesy of mixologist Geo Valdievieso (The Broken Dagger, Zodiac).

KLAY is a modern Indian restaurant and bar in Shanghai. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.

Six months post opening, KLAY is a tightly run ship with a fast-rotating menu of dishes. The food is contemporary Indian, and is similar to what you’d find at upmarket Indian restaurants in the London or LA—traditional roots with global influences. And that’s very much in-tune with Somal’s upbringing, who grew up in a Punjabi household in London.

KLAY is a modern Indian restaurant and bar in Shanghai. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.
Spicy Crab Curry (¥118) – Hand-picked fresh crab meat in aromatic spices. Rather spicy. Very addictive.
KLAY is a modern Indian restaurant and bar in Shanghai. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.
Butter Chicken Taco (¥58), pictured on the right – Spiced chicken breast with butter masala sauce and crispy onions on naan. It’s a hearty appetizer.
KLAY is a modern Indian restaurant and bar in Shanghai. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.
Bangladesh Fish Fry (¥288) – A whole halibut in a dry rub of masala spices filleted table-side. Served with pickled shallots and zesty mint chutney. It’s well-executed with good flavor. But when it comes to curry, I tend to lean more towards the next dish:
KLAY is a modern Indian restaurant and bar in Shanghai. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.
Lamb Gosht Curry (¥88) – Slow cooked lamb leg with yogurt. A thick, potent and spicy curry with tender cubes of lamb. Excellent and right up my alley. You definitely need rice with this one.
KLAY is a modern Indian restaurant and bar in Shanghai. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.
Saag Paneer (¥78) with spiced spinach sauce and raita. One for every table.
KLAY is a modern Indian restaurant and bar in Shanghai. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.
Burnt Garlic Tarka Dal (¥68) – A creamy lentil dal.
KLAY is a modern Indian restaurant and bar in Shanghai. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.
Truffle Cheese Naan (¥58) – It’s cheese in a naan with truffle oil and truffle paste. Hard to not like. But if it’s bread to enjoy your curries with, go for the garlic naan (¥28).
KLAY is a modern Indian restaurant and bar in Shanghai. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.
Lemon Tart (¥38)
KLAY is a modern Indian restaurant and bar in Shanghai. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.
Kulfi Ice Cream (¥48) with warm apple crumble and pan-fried caramelized bananas.
KLAY is a modern Indian restaurant and bar in Shanghai. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.
Dhania Highball (¥75) – OUR vodka infused with coriander and topped with olive lemonade. A refreshing drink to help soften those spices.
KLAY is a modern Indian restaurant and bar in Shanghai. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.
Old Mumbai-Rita (¥90) – A punchy twist on the margarita. Tequila, celery, ginger, lime, and Cointreau with a dry masala rim.

I like how KLAY is developing, and I am interested to return for the new dishes, especially this Biryani Lamb Shoulder (¥688) daily special I’ve heard of. Favorite dishes: lamb gosht, saag paneer, spicy crab curry.

Lunch sets from ¥78, entrée with a choice of garlic or plain naan, rice, and soft drink. Brunch is in its second iteration, a la carte dishes ranging from ¥38 to ¥358.