It’s not a final final goodbye, per se. Austin Hu and the Taiwanese family that runs Charmant go back many, many years and they both plan to relocate, and, more interestingly, team up. Charmant told me that they are looking for a new location somewhere in Xuhui that isn’t a shopping mall (read: it’s going to take a while), but once they find it, Hu is going to come into the kitchen to modernize Charmant’s menu. Madison Kitchen will move along with Charmant – more on that in a minute.
Change isn’t exactly what customers of Charmant want – they have been a solid and reliable member of the French Concession community since 2003, a stop for the musicians of the old JZ Club on their way home (back when the restaurant was open until 4am) and a place for the clubbers from Bon Bon (dating myself here) and Maya to fill up on Taiwanese comfort food and offset the booze. During the daytime, the crowd came from the neighborhood, came because one of the family members is a huge celebrity, came from the Chinese Opera House tucked in the lane next door, came from all over, really...
The three-cup chicken and lu rou fan and peanut “smoothies” (which are like made-to-order ice cream, not ‘smoothie’ smoothies) have been consistently excellent for as long as I’ve known Charmant, and that’s, let’s see, 85.7% of their life. It will be an end of an era.
The family is soliciting stories people have that may have happened in the restaurant, because of the restaurant, or involve the restaurant – beyond the marriages made and kids raised that they already know about – for a video they will be making about this location, so if you’ve got something to say and want to be in the video, get in touch with them at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 小城故事Charmant on WeChat.
The final day will be the last day of August and they are planning a kind of closing dinner as a farewell. Details are still being sketched out, but if you want to make sure you get a seat to pay your respects over a plate of very delicious fried chicken or with a preserved-egg-and-tofu dish, the time to go is now.
Madison Kitchen, meanwhile, has things a bit easier, being so small. They will close sometime in September but are likely to relocate to an as-yet undisclosed location, with a minimal interruption in the sandwich business. Eventually, the plan is to move into a space along with Charmant, whenever and wherever they end up. Either way, change is in the air in 2017.