The Shanghai Scoop is a monthly column dedicated to the latest food and drink news happening in Shanghai. Here is a round-up of the newest restaurants and bars, hotel news, and upcoming projects.
“How are there are so many restaurants opening every month?” is a question I often get asked.
Based on what I’ve seen, many new openings won’t last a year, let alone grow into one of the city’s stalwarts.
So take a deep breath and keep your eyes on the words in bold.
New Restaurants in Shanghai
Pie Bird — A shop dedicated to American pies both sweet and savory.
I would say it’s a solid 3/5.
There were a few disappointing ones, mainly the quiche—flavorless pastry, bland filling. I can get better ones at Pain Chaud for less. Favorite sweet pies are the Coconut Cream (¥40/slice, ¥258/whole) and the Strawberry Rhubarb (¥46, ¥298), pictured above.
It’s not mind-blowing, but not bad.
Latin Woo — Dank sandwiches at Columbia Circle.
If you’re not sure what kind of place Latin Woo is, hint, there’s a huge, brightly lit sign at the counter with not one, but two exclamation marks.
The Cubano (¥35/small, ¥68/large) here is bomb and so is the Torta Ahogada (¥65).
The Cubano (above) is made with a thick yet tender cutlet of pork, sharp mustard, crisp pickle, and toasted for that molten cheese effect.
The Torta Ahogada is a crusty bun stuffed with chunks of pork, avocado, and cheese. It sits in a spicy sauce blend and it’s insanely messy to eat, but oh so satisfying.
It’s part of a three-pronged space. Latin Woo takes the dining room during the day, and the menu switches over to Pirata’s during the evening. Around the back is six-seater omakase Hulu Sushi. (Looking forward to try Hulu!)
O’Mills — Bakery with an extended menu in the FFC.
O’Mills Artisan Bakery & Restaurant is more than meets the eye. They specialize in baking, naturally, but they also make their own flour with their own wooden flour mill machine in the back, have a second floor, plus an all day menu that’s probably too big for this kind of establishment. Their dough goes through a slow fermentation process, giving their sourdoughs their lovely flavor.
Lots of people seem to love it. The first floor usually has at least a few sun seekers lounging with a book, latte, and half-eaten avocado toast.
They really have a big menu, and all day brunch (7:30am-5pm). The menu runs the gamut from quiche, gravlax, salads, cold cuts, soups, 10 pizzas, and seven sandwiches.
That’s not counting the daily desserts and the actual bread.
I haven’t been in enough to say I love it, but I just might have to switch from Pain Chaud (my favorite bakery in Shanghai) to O’Mills.
Reason being: Pain Chaud recently took off the crusty baguette sandwiches from their offerings. Those cut your palate and gums like a motherfucker, but isn’t that the reason we love them?
Parlour — Western restaurant with pretty interiors and a promising cocktail menu at Columbia Circle, led by Sam Norris (Xime).
What is Parlour? They’re a bar, a grill, and a pizzeria, that’s modern, millennial, and edgy. I mean…they do have a disco ball for a pizza oven.
The interiors are beautiful and are made for fashionista photoshoots. And that’s the kind of crowd I predict will frequent this establishment, especially since it’s located in Columbia Circle.
I went within the first month of Parlour opening. While the trio of oysters (¥138) and the pizzas were memorable, the rest could use some much needed fine-tuning. I stipulate again: soft opening.
The pizza crust is good. The “tomato, parmesan, capers, and fresh tuna (sashimi)” pizza (¥136) is by memory decent and enjoyable enough. Other toppings are like nothing I’ve ever seen—potato cheese truffle croquettes on a white pizza flanked by one that read “cheese xuanwei ham truffle croquettes with tomato sauce” pizza. It’s so avant garde.
There is a market for ¥2,488 M7 Wagyu Tomahawk steak, and I don’t fall into that category.
Chez Jojo — Rustic French restaurant for affordable and impressionable dinners.
Another French restaurant! Just what Shanghai needs!
In all seriousness, it’s excellent and has great value for money. It’s rustic traditional food in a rustic traditional setting. Atmosphere is easy-going, and the service is good.
The house-made Foie Gras with Fig Chutney (¥128) is excellent. It is a velvety slab charged with the intoxicating aroma of port wine.
This, plus a light helping of sparkly tart fig chutney spread on toasted bread is the kind of ambrosial combination that would make a Frenchman weep.
The Beef Tartare (¥78, 100 grams) and the garlic butter escargot (¥78 for a dozen) are both classics and are faultless. I would order them the next chance I get.
Now let me follow up with something to manage your expectations: It’s not Le Bec, and they don’t have the same staff or consistency as MMB. For an average check of ¥300, what more do you want? They also have rabbit on the menu.
They’ve kept the gorgeous second floor terrace, spruced it up, and added fairy lights and comfortable furniture. It’s nice, really nice.
Fresh in the Laowai Ghetto
La Social opened just a heartbeat ago. It’s a Beijing import from Mosto Group, the same fun-loving bunch that operates Moka Bros (it’s like Wagas, but people like it much more) and Mosto. It’s Latin bar slingin’ mojitos and a whole lot more.
Also in the ghetto are not one but TWO damned rotisseries barely 100 meters from each other.
Sandwich and bottle shop Bites & Brews is now called Hot Chick. It’s run by the same people behind Barbarian/Bites & Brews, who’ve managed to squeeze in rotisserie oven into a corner of the tiny hut. It’s perplexing.
Bigger but not necessarily better is Roast. They do more than just birds though—basically every other protein, served grilled. They also have a Cubano. A few friends of mine have tried it and have been vehemently offended by its existence. Reviews of this place is split love/hate. And I’m not bothered enough to compare while DODU is available via Ele.me.
Franchises, and Second/Third Locations
Shanghai truly is a playground for the world’s franchises.
Texas Roadhouse, self-described on their website as a “legendary steak restaurant,” is open in Pudong, in a mall by the Century Avenue metro stop. That’s about all one can say about this chain. Rumors started about a year ago. Though, they could have settled on a more central location.
Grom, a much-loved Italian gelato company is opening near the Shimen Yi Lu X Nanjing Xi Lu X Taikoo Hui area. Italians love it. Like, squeals of joy love it. Grom is a bit late for summer, but doubt that’d stop me. I’m making a beeline for the pistachio gelato.
Tock’s has their second location in Feng Sheng Li. And they have bacon. Well, they never said they were kosher. That crispy maple bacon is dope tho. Sandwiches are the same quality, if not better. The Bloody Mary is also great. (My drink of choice.)
Peet’s opened their third location in the basement of the Jing’an Kerry Center. Fourth one coming soon at Lujiazui.
Coming Soon to Xintiandi
Shake Shack is moving into Pizza Express’ spot. Awning is up and will open when they’re good and ready. I’ve heard about this for at least a year now. Let’s hope it won’t be disappointing.
Here’s another one I’ve heard about for a while—Superhuman.
It is a plant-based restaurant run by a handful of people that’s propped up by their celebrity statuses and pretty faces. Their promo material is really something…gifs of them catwalking through Shanghai, vouguing, rooftopping…
“Long awarded and widely anticipated, celebrity chef Daphne Cheng will launch Superhuman, a global movement pioneering a modern way of life,” reads the “about us” page on their WeChat account.
It continues, “You may have previously heard about Daphne, the ABC celebrity chef from NY, whether through media reports or seeing her on the popular TV show CHEF NIC. In October 2016, Cheng left her successful New York life to completely start from zero in China.”
She’s catered parties for plenty of Hollywood types and socialites.
Lavish vegan parties! Kale in 100 different forms! At least that’s what I imagine.
Joining Daphne is executive chef Eric Shu, a former model who has been named “Top Chef” in Qingdao and Claire Victoria Pan, described as a celebrity sommelier and “former child star and singer, and founder of VA wine platform”. Fame. Glory. Vegetables! I’ve never heard of them until they popped on my radar. Guess I’m not hip enough.
They’re selling merch too, like black caps with a tiny logo for ¥388. An Adidas cap is, like, ¥349.
“The space is not just a restaurant, it’s a full experience. In addition to serving delicious vegetable-focused cuisine, the space will host rotating art installations and exhibits, latest technology, and share the hottest brands in fashion, beauty, and design who share the same approach in promoting health and sustainability.”
Kale! As art! With luxury brands! Wearing mascara! Printed in 3D! That’s what it sounds like to me.
Seriously, all this info is on their WeChat account “Superhuman,” complete with a wide array of gifs. (I don’t own any of the images from Superhuman. These are all linked from their WeChat account.)
Ed’s note: I am mildly curious to see what they come up with.
New Bars in Shanghai
From the makers of my favorite live music venue (Yuyintang) and my favorite bar (Specters) in Shanghai comes Yuyintang Park. Expect regulars a-plenty from within the music circle nursing beers and chain smoking in the patio outback.
“It’s not the same as Yuyintang,” is what you’ll hear, but ignore them! (Of course it’s not the same you dolts.)
I’d say YYT Park is a bigger, better version of Yuyintang.
It’s got a long ass bar and you can see the elevated stage from ANYWHERE in the main room. Sound system locked down. It’s got a wall for Uptown Records and a band room (read: shed for gear) connected/right next to the stage. No neighbors. Homeslice opening upstairs. LEGIT.
(Homeslice has a new menu, by the way. Everything there is amazing. They also have a Kungpao Chicken flavor.)
Not too far away is Stone Brewing. Beers! Good food for good prices! I hear they have a swell PR team! Order the California Burger, French Dip, Angry Wings, and Short Rib. Flight of four beers is ¥68, 100ml per glass.
There’s this thing called Bar Lotus below Beach House. Nice design. I don’t like cocktails, but for those of you who do, have at it!
So yeah. I’m particularly sad about Chop Chop, which closed on August 23. Gone with it is UNICO. Why can’t we have nice things?
Word is UNICO’s fate was to get a rebranding. That is an understandable decision. Some have hinted to me that the music on play could be refreshed. And personally, I haven’t seen anyone step into the shoes of former barman Geo Valdivieso (read about his new project UP here). UNICO was definitely one of the more popular spots at one point—the dancefloor packed with people who actually danced (like with finesse, not twerking).
Chop Chop? I blame the people who spent too much time trying to wrap their heads around the “concept.” On the other hand, great idea, too early for Shanghai. I loved the food at that restaurant. It’s closed for sure—most staff have scattered. As you can imagine, it’s a touchy subject. But I wish the best to the team and I look forward to their next project.
Ed’s Note: Running a business is for people who like a challenge. Running an F&B business is for masochists. It’s not easy, and the Bund is not a kind location—clientele, standards, rent, maintaining a level of prestige just because it’s at the Bund.
Monkey Champagne, Bonobo, and Madison Kitchen are all closing this weekend. There goes Donghu Lu.
There’s a huge blowout party, along with a donut pop-up from Happy Ending. If you miss this pop-up, rest assured, there will be more. Follow them on Instagram @happyending.sh for more updates.
Madison Kitchen is moving into Pirata’s space on Dongping Lu. Well, that’s also temporary, since this location of Pirata is due to close at the end of the year. That’s right, another street gone back to the government.
Nearby, Elevator is due to close on September 18. Half of the city’s DJs are on the line-up.
Next door, Chin Chin is closed. Lease is up for grabs.
Kakadu went quietly into the night. Something has already been running in its place a while now, called Modern Art Kitchen. Go figure.
Hard Rock Café’s closing was scandalous for a hot minute. It was found closed during regular operation hours on July 31, and the phone line had been disconnected. Read some of the sound bites here.
That’s all for last month’s recap! Stay tuned for the next F&B news column.