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[A Bunch of F & BS]: Winter, Taco Bell Is (Are) Coming
By Nov 3, 2016 Dining


Onward, Shanghai with your neighborhood food and booze gossip column. The huge Shanghai food news this week is this: I finally started watching Game of Thrones. Holy Jeeeeezus, that show is off the rails. Why didn't anyone tell me? Man. Just watched the episode with the duel between Prince Oberyn and The Mountain. MAN. MAN! INSANE. INSANE! Other food news: Taco Bell is coming.


New Openings and Soon-to-Be-New Openings

Tacos ARE GO.

-Taco Bell is returning, rather. After a brief stint in Shanghai in the Gubei area in the early '00s. The American taco empire is part of the Yum! Brands Inc. (formerly "Tricon Global Restaurants, Inc.", lol), which also counts KFC and Pizza Hut among their portfolio. Those two -- KFC and Pizza Hut -- eh, I suppose you could say they've done alright in China. Taco Bell not so much. But they're making a return to our shores after a long slumber like the White friggin' Walkers.

This above was spotted in Lujiazui. The news blew the doors off this WeChat group I'm in, cutting a huge swath through the porn .gifs like Moses through the Red Sea. We know not when they will come but soon. How long does it take to build a Taco Bell? 5 minutes?

-Other fast food news: American burger chain and preferred restaurant of Harold and Kumar White Castle is also coming. The news comes via the indefatigable Rachel Gouk of the City Weekends who's ALL OVER IT. Damn, she's good. Sniffing these things out like The Hound. Respect!

(Or was it Justin Fischer? Et tu, Brute?)

-New baller open format (hip hop, trap, EDM, twerk, house) Vegas-ish club ASL is finally grand opening tonight at their Tongren Lu location -- and it's invite only. They've been soft open for about two months now, operating with a particularly viscous door policy. A couple weeks ago they denied entry to the SmSh IT guy so I've already got a bit of a soft spot for them. I've been inside. They've got lots of leggy models carrying around buckets of sparkly champagne. And it's really purple. This is my artist's rendering of what it looks like:

-Sabor the new almost Bund restaurant from "International Olive Oil Spanish Ambassador", the Michelin-anointed Diego Guerrero (of El Club Allard, DSTAgE, and El Refor in Madrin) grandly opens this Sunday with a three-day dinner-and-then-some series of events at which the man himself will be in attendance, perhaps blessing the Category A expat guests by dripping olive oil on their foreheads and lightly kissing both cheeks. Details here.

SmSh's own reviewer called Sabor's interiors "nothing impressive". Goddamn, this is a jaded city.

I'll be there on the Sunday because I'm ALL ABOUT IT. Congrats Sabor, looking forward to being in you. Speaking of Michelin chefs...

-SmSh's best friend for life, "the most starred chef in the world" Joel Robuchon's afternoon tea brand offshoot, Le Salon de Thé de Joël Robuchon, is still under construction in the Reel Mall in Jing'an but it's opening soon. (!) With outlets already in Taipei and Hong Kong, the bougey, 19th-cenutry-inpired tea salon offshoot to L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon deals in sandwiches, pastries, and coffee-slash-tea for dining-in and takeaway.

Robuchon to Shanghai: "BRING ME THOSE DROIDS."

Bet the croissants are terrific. Hmmm, wish there was someone I could think of to send in for a review...

What's Old Is New Again

-Lovely house of pan-Asian culinary delights (and one of the nicest patios in Shanghai, of course, to be sure) Ginger celebrated a new addition and focus to their business last night, with the opening of their tapas and wine room in their location at 91 Xingguo Lu, near Hunan Lu. It's a simple and warm little space, indicative of the simple and honest little corner of Shanghai Ginger have carved out for themselves in this city 'lo these many years.

I like these Ginger folk. It's like a team of Danerys Targaryans running this place -- an antidote to the masculine bluster which is... hey, all over this big post. The new wine and tapas space is open from 5pm to midnight. On the menu they're doing lots of Sichuanese and South East Asian flavors, strongly emphasizing the wine pairings. Slow cooked octopus, Malay chicken, Sichuan chorizo, and Laksa pesto. They've also got new desserts featured here and upstairs at the restaurant.

-Retro chic New York-damaged restaurant and bar Rat Tar Art Bar has moved upstairs at their Reel Mall location, and now occupies the fifth floor of the Jing'an high-end shopping complex, and a really nice patio. It still looks pretty neat.

"The place was designed by Kris Ruhs, an American painter and sculptor, who made his chops working with discarded material he found on the streets of New York in the 1970s. He remains very much active in the art world, and still lives in the US, but came over to China to create the concept and design of the bar, imagining a place where artists can meet and collaborate," elucidates former SmartShanghai managing editor Nick Taylor, stopping into Reel Mall, as he was, to pick up some Stella McCartney sequined pants. That was back in 2013. The whole thing was on the ground floor. Now it's at the top. It's still the same. They've reoriented it from cocktail bar to cafe, bistro, afternoon tea, which is what you might be looking for if you were shopping for Stella McCartney in the Reel Mall. Interesting place to check out, if you're around. They're going for that '70s New York thing, so the soundtrack is the Velvet Underground, Lou Reed, Bowie, and more.

-Long-running tattoo parlor success story Shanghai Tattoo has installed a bar into their Maoming Lu venue, giving a bit more back to the inked and about-to-be-inked community with Asahi and Goose Island IPA on draft, as well as bottled beer (Asahi, Dead Guy, and more). Beers will change with the seasons and prices are around 25rmb for Asahi and 35rmb for craft beers. Basic selection of the hard stuff as well.

Says bar man Joshua Thompson: "The key is to give our friends, customers, and future customers somewhere to hang out while they're waiting for their sober friend to get a tattoo."

They're also looking to be a chill pre-game location for nights out and adding limited crockpot dishes as well -- chili and stew for those winter days. Hours are the same as the shop -- 12pm to 8pm. Sometimes 9.30pm. They're nice folks, so if you're in the area, drop in for a beer (and maybe the best worst decision you could make ever, eh).

Events for Ridiculous Brohammers: Chili Cook Off and Baconfest

Rounding this out with two meaty event reminders for meaty men: Bubba's 11th Annual Shanghai Chili Cook-off is on for Saturday with teams from all over Shanghai vying for chili supremacy. Details here. Looking ahead a bit, Ruijin Cajun is hosting "Baconfest" on November 13, with bacon enthusiasts from all over Shanghai coming together to... eat fistfuls of bacon. Sounds absurd. Details here.

...and last thing that just came in on my WeChat. Marc Johnson (ex-Fulton Place) and Austin Hu (Madison) are pedaling their Banh Mis again at the returning pop-up, the "Banh Mi Brothers". That's going to be at Union Trading also on November 13. More details as they come in.


Stay warm Shanghai, for the night is cold and full of terrors...



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  • 3 years ago handoogies

    Can't wait for your Westworld references in 2019

  • 3 years ago Unimpressed Unverified User

    Seriously Morgan do you actually get paid to write these? No one gives a shit about you watching Game of Thrones. Your written diarrhea isn't cool or funny.

  • 3 years ago Unverified User

    I think the more interesting gossip is the Mayor of Shanghai has made the compound under construction next to Goga/across from the Lawson his personal project for retired government officials. It's been said they don't want foreigners in the area and that Dongping Lu will be strafed clean starting with Sasha's/Zapatas. That place is after all TV Soong's original home and shouldn't be a bar for skankers. Apparently the whole area will a cultural heritage destination (read: area devoid of people and businesses making money.)

  • 3 years ago shanghaid1982 Unverified User

    Taco Bell also had a sit down restaurant near People's Square circa 2007....

  • 3 years ago YeahmanMike Unverified User

    I thought that was really funny and entertaining - unverified and unimpressed commenters. Don't listen to them Morgan, keep your head up and wipe away your tears. Just be you

  • 3 years ago morgan

    Thanks dad!

  • 3 years ago Unverified User

    Rachel Gouk
    what a most unfortunate name for an Asian American : )

  • 3 years ago Zammo

    I still have those pants. They actually improve with each wear.

  • 3 years ago TSkillet

    If you want them Robechon croissants (and my god, the butter they source is like churned unicorn milk. It's fucking amazing) - there's already a salon de the open on the Bund underneath l'atlier.

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