Anyone who has dined in the tiny Mengzi Lu eatery has noticed the unused upstairs portion. After growing the business slowly for just over a year, owner John Liu is ready to put that are to use, adding another 30 seats to the dining room. In conjunction with this expansion, Liu and co. will also be building up the kitchen to accommodate a
grand total of 60 seats. That, Liu says, should wrap up around early September.
Liu's also taking this opportunity to expand his footprint on Mengzi Lu with another restaurant. He's taken over Hua Yue Lou, the Vietnamese restaurant next door, and he'll be gutting that in preparation for a new concept.
The plan is a Vietnamese-French bistro with a focus on shellfish and crustaceans. The working title now is Coquille, which is French for shell. At the moment Liu is talking "very French platings" and dishes like "Brittany seafood towers". The Vietnamese element will be seen in dishes like roasted chili crab.
To run the kitchen, he's recruited Anna Bautista. Bautista's crowning achievement so far is her work as the chef at Madera in Menlo Park, California, which boasts a Michelin star. She arrived in Shanghai last year to open Jack London.
That project should be completed around mid-October.