Industry Nights is a semi-regular column featuring the haunts of chefs, restaurant owners, F&B managers, and other marginally sane people with good eating recommendations.
Sometimes these Industry Nights aren’t so much a forum for recommendations from industry insiders as they are a chest pounding session. Chefs and restaurateurs alike seem to recommend the smallest, obscurest, most out-of-the-way dumpling stall or noodle shack in town just to show their street cred. That’s why T8 chef Adam Liston’s list is so refreshing. You already know his recommendations. So just think of this as an informed endorsement.
I have been to Table No.1 about four or five times now and the thing that stands out to me the most is the consistency of the food. The freshness, execution and presentation are always a big standout out to me. I also really like the concept behind Jason Atherton and Scott Melvin’s cuisine. The food is casual, smart, clean, not at all pretentious, sustainable and is exactly what I am looking for on a day off away from my own kitchen. The “table sharing snacks” and the “bread basket” are a great way to start, the signature dish of crab, avocado and sweet corn sorbet is a standout and a burger in the bar lounge is an excellent way to remember the flavors from home while enjoying a cold beer. Prices are more than reasonable for a restaurant of this caliber and I would have to say this is my favorite western restaurant in Shanghai.
I am not normally a fan of multi-outlet establishments as I find that they lose character, style and innovation. Din Tai Fung though is a big exception. The service is impeccable and every detail is taken care of from start to finish. The cleanliness of the restaurant and the open kitchen is pristine, which translates into the style of food. The cutting down of unnecessary fats, purity in the stocks, freshness of the vegetables and restraint in the spices and sauces is masterful cooking. This for me is the perfect definition of walking out of a restaurant feeling nourished, satisfied and energetic, which is exactly what eating is meant achieve for our bodies. It is easy to understand how this brand name was Michelin starred in Hong Kong. There is a Din Tai Fung only minutes walk from my home and I am proud to say I venture there at least once a week.
Yes, this is my boss Walter Zahner’s sister restaurant, but that’s not why it’s on the list. Since being in Shanghai, I have tried nearly every reputable Thai place in this city. My fiancée Genevieve is a Thai food fanatic and insists on eating it as often as she can. Naam Thai was the first restaurant we ate in together after moving to Shanghai nearly 10 months ago and the meal still lingers as a standout in my mind. The authenticity and cleanliness of the food is what shines here. The emphasis on impeccable produce with no compromises is a measure of just how seriously a team takes the importance of keeping customers happy. We now eat here regularly and dishes such as red curry of prawns and roasted pumpkin, grilled sirloin with spicy northeastern dipping sauce are absolute favorites.
I love this joint because the food is super tasty, the restaurant is loud and always pumping and the place is close to work and home and open until the early hours of the morning. I go here often after work with my staff for late night supper. The service is always very sharp. The food comes out quick and in no particular order and is always exactly the same. I love the mixed roasted meat plate of goose, duck, chicken and pork and also the traditional Cantonese dish of fried beef and flat noodles with bean sprouts. This place is perfect for a big group of friends who are all starving and want to eat fast.
This place is a long lazy late lunchtime favorite of mine. It’s perfect for a chef because it is open all day, so on my day off I can have a relaxing morning with no time restraints then head out for a bite to eat. I like to get a table on the ground floor preferably close to the street and start with a cocktail of pineapple and white rum. I always get greedy here and over order. Dishes like bullfrog in spicy aromatic broth, spicy beef with numbing chilies and my number one choice, braised pork spare ribs with potatoes and Sichuan spices is incredible. The prices here are extremely reasonable and the portion sizes are huge. The service here is quirky and not at all attentive, but it adds to the amusement of a long, lazy, carefree lunch.
I know this place has only just opened but the concept reminds me so much of home in Australia that I have been there three times already and I love it. There is a chicken and chip shop on every corner back in Oz and it is a common weekly meal in most Aussie households. The fresh, plump chickens rotating over the coals, the coleslaw and side of potatoes are all things that the Funky Chicken has nailed right on the head with perfection here in Shanghai. I like to get my girlfriend to pick up a freshly-roasted chicken and sides just before I finish work and sit down and enjoy in the comfort of my home. The only thing missing, Mr. Laris, is the home-style gravy.