June 2021 – It’s Shanghai

We are in the thick of it. The May holidays saw a slew of new openings just in time for the start of patio season, and now things *may* slow down as the city looks more and more like a sauna. Probably not, because once the creativity starts flowing it doesn’t stop. Without further ado, your monthly fix of Shanghai food and gourmet gossip is served.

Malabar was closed for a few weeks due to “renovation”, but after almost nine years it is experiencing a renaissance. While the design and decoration are seriously improved, the core energy of Malabar will remain. The focus will be on the creative tapas menu developed by the executive chef and co-owner Juan Campos.

Drinks are also getting a facelift. Organized by Yao Lu (Union trading company), they will move away from the current club-type party scene. Looks like there are no more drunk late night makeup sessions with sexy Latin Americans – sad day – but the silver lining is more good food is coming to this already glowing area.

Image by Sophie Steiner / This is

There is Khokhlov (previously from Botanical basket), in partnership with Igor Mustafaev, they’ve thrown The bar on Ruijin Er Lu, just south of Huaihai Lu – a relaxed bar reminiscent of an old-fashioned party.

It’s simple cocktails, bar snacks, live DJs, and all the cool stuff, with everything coming back to the Shanghai community through local art, jokes, and memes. The concept is basically “there are no strangers here, only friends you haven’t met yet”.

More in the bar news, CO of Hong Kong, No. 1 bar in the Asian Top 50 and No. 8 in the world for bars, is opening a second establishment in Shanghai. This Mexican-inspired, handcrafted cocktail bar aims to bring agave spirits to the forefront of the drink scene in Asia.

One of the members of the OG bar team, Robin, moves to help turn it on, and Jay khan, the mastermind behind the whole operation, will pass as soon as it can – here is to hope for more lax quarantine rules in the near future. The exact location and opening date are still under wraps, with more details in the coming weeks.

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A modern version of a traditional tea room, Wulu on Fenyang Lu offers a refreshing alternative to always having a coffee or a cocktail. The partners Ting Huang and Dinguo Zheng offering guests everything from sparkling teas and nitrogen teas to cold teas, as well as Chinese fusion sharing dishes that showcase local ingredients in a bright, outdoor urban garden atmosphere

Feed, a restaurant and wine bar on Maoming Nan Lu, just launched its provisional opening on June 19. Focusing (as the name suggests) on organic fodder ingredients, artisan decor, and an extensive natural wine list, this place can be added to the endless list of wine bars opened in Shanghai last year.

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Even the dance-in-the-park ayis know that Five guys open end of April; the lines were crazy. In fact, they still are, but even after the fleeting hype ends, we still don’t plan to be back anytime soon. They have milkshakes available now, which weren’t ready for the grand opening just yet, but the build-up killed the burger.

READ MORE: Post-ephemeral hype, are five guys holding up? Nope.

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Named for the international bank that the centennial neoclassical building was designed to house, Grand Banks – a New York aesthetic salon on Sichuan Zhong Lu – officially opened in late May and has since launched a brunch menu in addition to its social dinner menu.

The food is a blend of the chef’s Chinese roots, French culinary training, and other elements of pan-Asian cuisine, paired with handcrafted cocktails inspired by Chinese ingredients. The ambiance is very chic Tribeca loft with an upstairs lounge for VIP guests.

READ MORE: Grand Banks – Manhattan Chic meets Shanghai’s historic Bund

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Mi Mian Hui Xin in Wukang Market opened in May (only open on weekends for now) as a mid-drive, daily dim sum, and Hong Kong dinner focusing on classics with just a few surprises.

The menu is extensive and includes steamed and fried dim sum, roast meats, dinner dishes, sharing platters, Canto soups, desserts, and drinks. It’s unclear if someone of Cantonese descent would fully approve of the state of dim sum at this restaurant, but the fact remains that regardless of the rustic authenticity, it’s tasty.

READ MORE: Not your mom’s Dim Sum at Mi Mian Hui Xin

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Italo renamed itself Italo Trattoria, your neighborhood Italian restaurant for basic Italian cuisine with a modern touch. A combination of bringing chef Lucky Lasagna on board, the redesign of the cocktail menu, the upgrading of the service by welcoming Sébastien Dallée (previously from Legacy by Madison) to the Funka team because the GM Group has given the whole space a whole new feel, with amazingly delicious Italian food at fair prices.

READ MORE: 3 new spring menus: Italo Trattoria, Urban Café & Oxalis

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Another exciting new branding comes with a barbecue side. Well, actually a table full of it, like The camel teamed up with Matt waters, owner and founder of Smoke KCQ, launch The smokehouse. Surprise! That’s a lot of meat. All meats. Meat for days. #meatporn.

It’s a regional agnostic ‘slow and low’ American barbecue (with a strong emphasis on Kansas City, Matty’s hometown) with all the good grease-dripping, heart-clogging, finger-licking fixings that are best enjoyed in Cups or Daisy Duke overalls, shotgun in hand.

READ MORE: # MeatPorn-Worthy Smoked Meats and KC BBQ at the Smokehouse

It is said on the street that they have just launched their brunch menu to accompany their already filling menu for lunch and dinner, with offerings like cookies and gravy, smoked fried chicken on bacon-frozen waffles and maple and pulled pork and scrambled egg breakfast tacos.

Are you still drooling? Because we’re really drooling.

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Latin Earth restaurant just opened in Wheelock Square, just above Shanghai Brewery, as a space dedicated to everything related to Latin America – Peru lomo salatado to Colombian empanadas to Chilean pisco sours, all coming out of the kitchen and bar to the rhythms of reggaeton, salsa, bachata and merengue.

It is also a precursor of LatinLand Quarter, an event space with food trucks, live music, lifestyle brands and entertainment in In the city which aims to be launched by August. In the meantime, there are events almost every weekend with lots of food vendors, craft beer, cocktails, DJs, and live entertainment.

READ MORE: Latin Eats, Beats and Beach Vibes at LatinLand

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Shanghai’s unanimously favorite vegan restaurant Duli finally expands, with a second location in the Xintiandi district Social greedy by the end of August. This means even healthier but tastier meals within a much larger delivery radius.

READ MORE: Shanghai Restaurant Review: Must-Try Plant-Based Duli Bistro

Winner of This is Shanghai New restaurant of the year 2020, Wine bar has now taken over La Saleya on Changle Lu, which makes it La Saleya Wine Bar. With a more “house” atmosphere, French cuisine is more rustic, country-style and classically simple, while remaining associated with a delicious selection of wines.

READ MORE: Shanghai Restaurant Review: Wine Bar

Photo courtesy of Gentle by the artist

Sweet by the artist, a Japanese-Western fusion restaurant, is now open on Jiangguo Lu. It is the second establishment of the same owner as The Artist Bar & Bistro. Thought mentaiko spaghetti, rice with katsu curry and lots of grilled protein at more than reasonable prices.

After some delays, From dusk till dawn, a new bar hidden behind a brand new Thai street food restaurant Self Thai (featuring real legit Thai food), plans to open before the end of the month, next to Up.

The drinks are all going to focus on the movies, with storylines built into the recipes. Expect dance music almost every night of the week, in collaboration with Shanghai sound (previously from Unico).

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Lucky dinner in front of ShanKang Li unfortunately closed a few weeks ago, but Yugo Grill has since taken possession of the space. It means Pljeskavica – or Yugoslavian-style burgers – all. Thin. Day! In addition, they now offer hearty specials from the Balkans, such as goulash.

READ MORE: Pljeskavica – Yugoslavian late night burger eats you need

Another shutdown took place last month, in the form of Paulaner in Xintiandi, one of the oldest breweries in the city. As the craft beer culture gains traction, we assume the competition is all the more intense.

In the same way, Neil playfoot, previously brewer at Humdinger in Kunming, took over the post of head brewer at Shanghai Brewery about two months ago, and we can’t wait to see what kind of sparkling beers he has in store for us.

Talib Kweli to Baron
Photo courtesy of the Baron

The Baron on Donghu Lu closes permanently after a seven-year run, ending with a glowing party on June 26. But fear not, the owners are casting their club building magic in a new project, GRNDCNTRL, is expected to open in Xintiandi at the end of the summer.

Do you have any good advice? Please feel free to email any juicy rumors to [email protected]

Find out more Shanghai Food & Drink Gossip.

[Cover image via tricycle.org]

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