A year of pop-ups comes to fruition. New in Jing’an is Yaya’s, a pasta bar that’s churning out fresh strands of bliss, finishing them with sauces peppered with Chinese flavors and ingredients.
Yaya’s is in a gem of a location, tucked down an alley on Tongren Lu, right behind Shanghai Centre. There’s even an outdoor space, which they’re currently sprucing up with additional seats. Inside, it’s small and cozy with the bar counter and open kitchen taking center stage.
There are a couple of tables, but it’s not much, which is why you’d need a reservation for more than five people. On busy nights, it’s bustling with diners at the counter, and as the hour grows late, more imbibers join in turning it into a bar-like atmosphere.
It’s brought to you by creative powerhouse team chefs Andrew Moo (Le Daily) and Dan Li (formerly Bird), and designer Mike Liu (Lucky Mart). Yaya’s first set up shop inside X Bar on Donghu Lu in July 2021, followed by a spattering of appearances around town. (Yaya’s actually opened their brick-and-mortar in March this year, for only but a week before the city went silent.)
Food at Yaya’s
The food, as they so boldly put it, is “not like your nonna’s” cooking. Yaya’s marries Chinese ingredients with al dente pasta, borrowing from popular Chinese regional dishes and flavors to mix and match. The mapo tofu lasagna is the ne plus ultra of their concept.
There’s also a chicken parm (¥68) on the menu and other dishes to share.
As for bevvies, there’s drinks on tap and simple cocktails, including beers, negroni, Aperol Spritz, G&Ts, and a nitro espresso martini, ranging from ¥38-68. House wine is ¥58/glass, ¥260/bottle, plus more bottles on display.
Pricing is honest, great value even. The pasta portions aren’t massive, but they’re not small either. You could easily split three pastas between two people, or four pastas if you’re really hungry and skip the appetizers. Great pastas, nice vibes—go eat there.
Yaya’s Pasta Bar
Address: 329 Tongren Lu, near Nanyang Lu
Hours: Daily, 12pm-10pm