Three new restaurants. ZUP Pizza Bar for Chicago’s tavern-style pizza, yoshoku “Japanese-western” food at Rumor, and brunch at cozy cafe and bar Empty Jar.


ZUP Pizza Bar

Address: B205, 2/F, 291 Fumin Lu, near Donghu Lu富民路291号2楼B205, 近东湖路
Tel: 13730752073
Hours: 5pm-11pm (soft opening)

ZUP Pizza Bar is a restaurant and bar in Shanghai that does Chicago-style thin crust tavern pizzas. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.

This one is a long time coming. ZUP is a pizza bar that specializes in Chicago-style grid-cut tavern-style pizzas, brought to you by Wayne Hou (Nonna Ruth pop-ups) and Lee Tseng (Boxing Cat Brewery, Liquid Laundry).

ZUP Pizza Bar is a restaurant and bar in Shanghai that does Chicago-style thin crust tavern pizzas. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.
ZUP Pizza Bar is a restaurant and bar in Shanghai that does Chicago-style thin crust tavern pizzas. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.

The thin-crust tavern-style is the pizza of choice for Chicagoans, rather than the loaded, extra thick deep-dish pizza. It is so named because it gained popularity in bars, as the crispy square-cut pizzas proved a convenient and tasty snack that kept patrons happy as they enjoyed their libations. That said, ZUP aims to evoke the same bar / late-night vibe with a dimly lit dining room and mood-setting playlist.

ZUP Pizza Bar is a restaurant and bar in Shanghai that does Chicago-style thin crust tavern pizzas. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.

There are 11 pizzas on the menu currently, all tavern-style 14-inch grid-cut pies. They’re thin, crispy, and oh-so good. (I could totally finish a whole 14’’ by myself.) Plus, they also do some hella tasty appetizers and bites to share.

ZUP Pizza Bar is a restaurant and bar in Shanghai that does Chicago-style thin crust tavern pizzas. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.
Hou-Lee Trinity (¥108) – Vodka sauce, red sauce, and pesto.
ZUP Pizza Bar is a restaurant and bar in Shanghai that does Chicago-style thin crust tavern pizzas. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.
Walter White (¥98) – House ricotta and roasted garlic.
ZUP Pizza Bar is a restaurant and bar in Shanghai that does Chicago-style thin crust tavern pizzas. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.
Club 88 (¥128) – House fennel sausage, pepperoni, onion, green peppers, and mushrooms.
ZUP Pizza Bar is a restaurant and bar in Shanghai that does Chicago-style thin crust tavern pizzas. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.
Grand Fennelli (¥118) – House fennel sausage and giardiniera, Chicago-style Italian pickles.
ZUP Pizza Bar is a restaurant and bar in Shanghai that does Chicago-style thin crust tavern pizzas. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.
The Clemenza (¥128) – Meatball, house ricotta, red onion, giardiniera, and fresh basil. This is my favorite.

They’ll also do an Upside-Down Sicilian, a thick crust pizza that’s more like a foccacia, but with an uber crispy bottom and even crispier sides. It’s cheese first, then toppings. Only available on Fridays and Saturdays after 10pm, limited quantity.

ZUP Pizza Bar is a restaurant and bar in Shanghai that does Chicago-style thin crust tavern pizzas. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.
Upside-Down Sicilian White Gold Pizza – Mashed potato, pancetta, scallion, house ranch. (White Gold is also available tavern-style for ¥128.)
ZUP Pizza Bar is a restaurant and bar in Shanghai that does Chicago-style thin crust tavern pizzas. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.
Garlic Knots (¥42) – A requisite. These knots of doughy bliss are soaked in garlic butter and served with an addictive vodka sauce. One for every table.
ZUP Pizza Bar is a restaurant and bar in Shanghai that does Chicago-style thin crust tavern pizzas. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.
Meatballs Al Forno (¥68) – Fluffy meatballs of pork and beef in a red sauce with house ricotta, and fresh basil, served with garlic bread.
ZUP Pizza Bar is a restaurant and bar in Shanghai that does Chicago-style thin crust tavern pizzas. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.
Sweet Corn (¥38) – Don’t let its demure appearance deceive you. These roasted kernels are absolutely delicious, tossed in a zesty dressing of feta, lime, and chili.
ZUP Pizza Bar is a restaurant and bar in Shanghai that does Chicago-style thin crust tavern pizzas. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.
Lu Roucini (¥58) – A twist on the arancini, filled with Taiwanese-style braised pork with a dollop of ‘nduja mayo.
ZUP Pizza Bar is a restaurant and bar in Shanghai that does Chicago-style thin crust tavern pizzas. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.
Cabbage Patch Salad (¥68) – Shredded cabbage with lots of lime, herbs, and sunflower seeds.
ZUP Pizza Bar is a restaurant and bar in Shanghai that does Chicago-style thin crust tavern pizzas. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.
ZUP Double Smash Burger (¥78) – They also do a smash burger, however, this isn’t available daily. Limited only, and news of its release will drop on ZUP’s official channels. Double beef patty, American cheese, house sauce, and pickles, served with fries.

As for drinks, draft beer starts from ¥45, classic cocktails from ¥55, and wines by the glass from ¥60.

ZUP Pizza Bar says they’re still in soft opening, but damn, I believe they’re ready. Go forth, eat pizza!


Rumor

Address: 208 Xinle Lu, near Donghu Lu 新乐路208号, 近东湖路
Tel: 15821685722
Hours: Daily, 11am-10pm

Rumor, a cafe in Shanghai serving Japanese style yoshoku dishes like hamburger steak and katsu curry. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.

Just a couple paces away from ZUP is Rumor, a tiny café brimming with character that does yoshoku, a style of Japanese cuisine influenced by western/non-Japanese food. The best example of a yoshoku-style dish is a hamburger steak served over rice. Other yoshoku classified dishes include tonkatsu and Japanese curry, which they also have at Rumor.

Rumor, a cafe in Shanghai serving Japanese style yoshoku dishes like hamburger steak and katsu curry. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.

It’s a small and cozy space with old school banquettes and retro décor. There are a few tables on the tiny spot of outdoor space too.

Rumor, a cafe in Shanghai serving Japanese style yoshoku dishes like hamburger steak and katsu curry. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.

The menu is simple with about a dozen dishes. The hamburger steak is the signature. These fluffy housemade oblong patties (200g) are served with rice or buttered toast with a variation of sauces from the peppery demi-glace to one with sea urchin and foie gras.

As for the pork katsu, it’s pretty tasty, but with a breading that is thicker than I’d prefer. It’s drenched with a tasty Japanese-style sweet curry.

Rumor, a cafe in Shanghai serving Japanese style yoshoku dishes like hamburger steak and katsu curry. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.
Hamburger Steak with Demi-Glace (¥78)
Rumor, a cafe in Shanghai serving Japanese style yoshoku dishes like hamburger steak and katsu curry. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.
Pork Katsu Curry (¥78)
Rumor, a cafe in Shanghai serving Japanese style yoshoku dishes like hamburger steak and katsu curry. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.
Fried Oysters (¥48) – Similar thickness of breading as the pork katsu.
Rumor, a cafe in Shanghai serving Japanese style yoshoku dishes like hamburger steak and katsu curry. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.
Fried Chicken (¥48)

Coffee starts from ¥28, teas from ¥35.

Rumor, a cafe in Shanghai serving Japanese style yoshoku dishes like hamburger steak and katsu curry. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.

It’s straightforward, unfussy food. As for dinner, they do stock wine, but the menu isn’t diverse enough to make it a dinner destination in my opinion. Still, it’s affordable and satisfying, and good for the nearby working crowd or for when you’re really craving this kind of food.


Empty Jar Cozy Hub

Address: B-102, M+ Plaza, 850 Xikang Lu, near Xinfeng Lu西康路850号马利M+园区B-102, 近新丰路
Tel: 19102137680
Hours: Tue-Sun, 11:30am-11pm

Empty Jar Cozy Hub Gin & Wine, cafe and bar with a health conscientious menu in Jing'an, Shanghai. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.

Empty Jar Cozy Hub Gin & Wine is a café and bar located in M+, a small complex that’s filled with numerous F&B outlets. It opened late last year, but hasn’t really taken off until now.

Empty Jar Cozy Hub Gin & Wine, cafe and bar with a health conscientious menu in Jing'an, Shanghai. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.
Empty Jar Cozy Hub Gin & Wine, cafe and bar with a health conscientious menu in Jing'an, Shanghai. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.

Walk into the complex towards the flight of wanghong stairs (hey, whatever works) and Empty Jar is on the left. The interiors are simple if not humble. Most desirable, especially now that the weather has cooled, are the two al fresco seats. Plus, the compound is dog-friendly.

Empty Jar Cozy Hub Gin & Wine, cafe and bar with a health conscientious menu in Jing'an, Shanghai. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.

The food is casual Western with a healthy take, highlighting many vegan and gluten-free dishes. They also have a slow-cooked beef brisket shakshuka and a hefty breakfast plate with fish instead of sausage. It’s all very well executed and affordably priced. The dishes feel very “clean”. Although I felt full after the meal, I didn’t feel heavy. Also, service is excellent.

Empty Jar Cozy Hub Gin & Wine, cafe and bar with a health conscientious menu in Jing'an, Shanghai. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.

They serve an all-day brunch menu and dinner; some dishes overlap.

Empty Jar Cozy Hub Gin & Wine, cafe and bar with a health conscientious menu in Jing'an, Shanghai. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.
Mediterranean Full Breakfast (¥108) – Mackerel fillet, tater tors, avocado, Greek pita, hummus dip, and garden salad. The mackerel is tasty, the tater tots are crispy as hell, and the hummus is addictive. The tater tots are also available a la carte for ¥58.
Empty Jar Cozy Hub Gin & Wine, cafe and bar with a health conscientious menu in Jing'an, Shanghai. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.
Slow-Cooked Beef Brisket Shakshuka (¥92) – Roasted veggies, soft-boiled egg, and shredded brisket in a tomato-based sauce with parmesan, served with pita.
Empty Jar Cozy Hub Gin & Wine, cafe and bar with a health conscientious menu in Jing'an, Shanghai. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.
Healing Harvest Orzo (¥78) – Orzo with shiitaki mushrooms, snap peas, potatoes, candied lemon, and parmesan cheese. Very tasty, will order again.
Empty Jar Cozy Hub Gin & Wine, cafe and bar with a health conscientious menu in Jing'an, Shanghai. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.
Hibiscus Jicama Salad (¥52) – Thick ribbons of jicama with a hibiscus dressing, fresh mint, pumpkin seeds, and endives. A light starter.
Empty Jar Cozy Hub Gin & Wine, cafe and bar with a health conscientious menu in Jing'an, Shanghai. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.
Frozen Cheesecake (¥38) with gin and tonic jelly and cashew cookie crumbs.

Wines are mostly natural or organic, and the selection rotates seasonally, glasses start from ¥68 and bottles from ¥330. And like the name suggests, they serve a wide range of gin & tonics, starting from ¥66 a glass, as well as house signature cocktails from ¥88.

Empty Jar Cozy Hub Gin & Wine, cafe and bar with a health conscientious menu in Jing'an, Shanghai. Photo by Rachel Gouk @ Nomfluence.

Good for casual lunch/brunch and easy-going dinner if you’re in the neighborhood.