Chefs Behind the Wheel
Chefs and chef-like people drove a lot of openings this year. Danish Chef Frederik Rasmussen flew Apollo down to South America.
Jonas Noel did Oxalis at The Waterhouse Hotel. Bina Yu and Kim Melvin opened Together on Yuyuan Lu.
Camden Hauge did a two-fer with Bird and Bitter on Wuyuan Lu.
Blake Thornley excited people 20 at a time at a counter restaurant (Oha) and then moved into a proper glass cube in Columbia Circle (Blackbird 2.0), which then spawned a chef’s table, Table Black. And Carlos Sotomayor had a short-lived attempt at Peruvian modernism with Ekeko (RIP).
Then Another and Another and a Sister and a Brother
If running one restaurant in Shanghai is edifying, profitable and illuminating, then why not two? If two, why not three? If three, why not the whole damn city? That’s called Charlie’s Theory and if these brands aren’t following it exactly, they are at least taking the first steps. Little Catch opened a new store on Yanping Lu (though closed the original on Wulumuqi Lu).
Pizza partiers Homeslice expanded to Zhongshan Park. Tock’s took smoked meat to Jing’an. Modern Xinjiang joint Xibo opened a new store there too. Pilipala went to the South Bund.
Diner closed the original but opened two more in their quest for world pancake domination. Crab mystics Cejerdary took their hairy religion to Pudong.
Funkadeli opened Funka del Sur (but lost one too). Wagas went Lokal on Selfie Street. Cult steakhouse El Bodegon had a brother. Mall buns brand CinnaSwirl opened on Century Avenue in Pudong.
Brit fave Pie Society opened a “canteen” in Jing’an. Burger joint Grinder took a shot at a second-floor shop near IAPM. And the Yu Ba Xian group went super-glam with the sexiest southeast Asian food Shanghai has ever seen at Lion in Xintiandi.
CARBS CARBS CARBS CARBS CARBS
Three bakeries of note opened in Shanghai this year. O'Mills opened on Yongjia Lu in February, with a mix of sourdoughs and pastries.
Luneurs, by the ex-face of Farine, Son Quach, opened in Xingfuli in June, with a super modernist way of presenting the pastries and some very excellent ice cream (by the ex-ice cream maker of wanghong ice cream window WIYF) and the best cones in the city. Best!
Then in October, Korean import Our Bakery broke into the Shanghai market with a menu of deliciously bastardized baked goods, like a croissant filled with Nutella and a banana, deeply varnished caneles and a “dirty” chocolate bun.
Finally, honorable mention to the fairly-priced Pain Chaud, which expanded off of Yongkang Lu this year into an airy home just around the corner.
CARBS, CARBS, CARBS, NOODLE!
I didn’t pay attention to the entire noodle world in 2018, and anyway, I’d rather be in Suzhou for it. But there were two developments in Shanghai this year worth talking about. The first is that Suzhou came to Shanghai in the form of Yu Xing Ji, whose specialty is liang mian huang noodles, fried crispy on both sides.
Two stores opened, actually, but the one in Hongqiao is a rogue franchisee doing bad things to good recipes. The worthwhile one is on Weihai Lu, and while it’s not 100%, it’s about 80% as good as Suzhou and much, much closer. The second item was meeting the Cursing Noodle King in late fall, after going on a recon mission to his new goose noodle shop. I ended up deep in a story I hadn’t set out to chronicle but once he revealed himself, well, just read it...
The Fall of Franck, Shanghai’s favorite business scare story, became relevant again in 2018 as two of Franck Pecol’s former associates struck out on their own. Son Quach did Luneurs, which we already covered.
Simon Briens did RAC, which became insanely popular for its crepes, galettes, and being insanely popular. The brunch place (they do dinner too, don’t you know, and have an extensive natural wine program) set back in the base & Co. building on Anfu Lu made it onto some design websites for its shabby chic décor. I think the success of both venues, and they are successful, was definitely helped along by Quach and Briens’s daily presence at their respective shops, and their standards for quality, both traits that they practiced with Pecol, no doubt.
Southeast Asia and Beyond
Alas, 2018 was not the year that excellent Thai food flourished in Shanghai. Still, there were some new additions. Very acceptable bak kut teh brand Song Fa brought their pork ribs and white pepper to malls around town. Bombay Bistro went into the foreigner pit this year in search of customers.
Currify entered the tiny Indian food market and promptly proceeded to undercut everyone, a strategy I can get behind when it results in 10 rmb naan. Seriously, why is naan 25rmb at every other Indian restaurant? Keep fighting, Currify.
Triple P, a window on Changle Lu, proved that anything can go wanghong, even milk in a lactose-intolerant country, as long as it looks like luxury.
ORO Tiramisuteca wins the award for most unnecessarily ostentatious dessert.
One dedicated lady is trying her hand at pie as a business; Pie Bird opened over the summer. Ratio, the robot bartender place, moved from its temporary home in K11 to a permanent spot in Raffles City. Kiss Avocado went all in for the round green fruits. (They are a fruit.) And GOD, humble as ever, saw no problem charging people 78rmb for one of their hot dogs.
But life is not all opening parties and Champagne across the stern. Sometimes you gotta spill one out for the dead and gone. These were the names etched on our Closed List in 2018.
- R.I.P 2018
- The Milkshake Bar - R.I.P. January '18
- Pierogi Ladies 1.0 (Jiaozhou Lu) - R.I.P. January '18
- Fat Mama (Wuyuan Lu) - R.I.P. January '18
- Mr. Pancake House (Julu Lu) - R.I.P. January '18
- Pin Chuan (Plaza 66) - R.I.P. January '18
- Mealbay - R.I.P. January '18
- Eataly - R.I.P. January '18
- PizzaExpress (K11 Art Mall) - R.I.P. January '18
- OH.MY.BURGER - R.I.P. January '18
- Haiku by Hatsune (IFC Mall) - R.I.P. January '18
- Wheat (Dagu Lu) - R.I.P. January '18
- Market 1010 by Goga - R.I.P. January '18
- Hungry Lung's Kitchen (Jiashan Lu) - R.I.P. January '18
- elefante - R.I.P. February '18
- Pure & Whole Kiosk (Reel Mall) - R.I.P. February '18
- Ramen Shop - R.I.P. February '18
- Holy Cow (Xiaomuqiao Lu) - R.I.P. February '18
- Milos Taverna (Yueyang Lu) - R.I.P. March '18
- Hello Kitty Bistro Bianco - R.I.P. February '18
- Palmetto - R.I.P. March '18
- Funkadelino - R.I.P. March '18
- The Grumpy Pig - R.I.P. March '18
- D.O.C. Express - R.I.P. March '18
- Al's Burgers - R.I.P. March '18
- Cafe Montmartre (Wulumuqi Lu) - R.I.P. April '18
- Gokohai - R.I.P. April '18
- Pin Chuan (Taojiang Lu) - R.I.P. April '18
- Table No. 1 - R.I.P. April '18 - Rebranded as Oxalis
- EQ (Huangpu) - R.I.P. April '18
- Kakadu - R.I.P. May '18
- Slurp! (Wulumuqi Zhong Lu) - R.I.P. May '18
- Little Catch (Wulumuqi Zhong Lu) - R.I.P. May '18
- Brother's Kebab (Wulumuqi Zhong Lu) - R.I.P. May '18
- Sichuan Citizen (Donghu Lu) - R.I.P. May '18
- Flying Elephant (Guangdong Lu) - R.I.P. May '18
- Little Catch (Xintiandi) - R.I.P. May '18
- Lizzy's All Natural (Shaanxi Nan Lu) - R.I.P. May '18
- Urban Diner (Xizang Bei Lu) - R.I.P. June '18
- Kafer by the Binjiang One - R.I.P. June '18
- Bumbu - R.I.P. June '18
- Goga - R.I.P. June '18
- Ekeko - R.I.P. June '18
- Prisme 878 (Jiangsu Lu) - R.I.P. June '18
- Dodu (Reel Mall) - R.I.P. July '18
- 1921 Gucci - R.I.P. July '18
- Mr Pots - R.I.P. July '18
- Element Fresh (Disney Town) - R.I.P. July '18
- MammaMia - R.I.P. August '18
- Bonobo - R.I.P. August '18
- Chin Chin by Wheat - R.I.P. August '18
- Ani Cafe - R.I.P. August '18
- Midnight Burger (Xiangyang Bei Lu) - R.I.P. August '18
- SVEA Nordic - R.I.P. July '18
- Hard Rock Cafe - R.I.P. July '18
- Happy Buddha - R.I.P. July '18
- The Chop Chop Club - R.I.P. September '18
- UNICO - R.I.P. September '18
- Lapis Thai Kitchen - R.I.P. September '18
- Lapis Cafe - R.I.P. September '18
- Lapis Yun - R.I.P. September '18
- 45 Degrees - R.I.P. September '18
- Bordertown - R.I.P. September '18
- Pho Cafe - R.I.P. September '18
- Element Fresh (Grand Gateway) - R.I.P. September '18
- Pintos - R.I.P. September '18
- Lapis Thai (Hunan Lu) - R.I.P. September '18
- Avec Moi - R.I.P. September '18
- Jstone (Shimao Binjiang) - R.I.P. September '18
- Di Shui Dong (Dongping Lu) - R.I.P. September '18
- Graze - R.I.P. October '18
- Eighteen Kitchen & Bar - R.I.P. October '18
- KABB (Xintiandi) - R.I.P. November '18
- Dao Jiang Hu (Dongu Lu) - R.I.P. November '18
- Racines - R.I.P. November '18
- Sushi Oyama - R.I.P. November '18
- Ochobo - R.I.P. November '18
- Pret A Manger - R.I.P. December '18