What's old is new again. Here's whats going on with a few Shanghai F&B outposts you've seen before: Little Catch's new cafe, the latest venue from Brew Bear, and the new lease on life from Dozo.
1. Little Catch Poke Cafe
What it is: Little Catch Poke Cafe is located right next to Zhong Plaza, in the same building as naked Hub. It's got about 10 times the seating of their Wulumuqi Lu restaurant (which has like three stools) and a slightly larger menu as well. In addition to their signature poke bowls, they have sandwiches, octopus plates, seafood platters, and raw oysters. You also have the option of making your own poke bowl and sandwich, loading it with your choice of seafood, salad, sauces, and other add-ons. A poke bowl starts at 60rmb; sandwiches are from 55rmb.
First Impressions: A welcome addition to the neighborhood. Bowls are slightly more expensive here than Little Catch Fishmongers, but the specious seating area and additional menu options are appreciated.
2. Brew Bear (The Loft)
What it is: Brew Bear has 30 draft beers including Chimay Gold, Ballast Point, Epic Lupulingus, various taps from Russell, Palm Speciale Beige, Tank 7, Firestone Walker Union Jack, Goose Island, Vedett Extra Ordinary, Haacht Mystic Cherry, and whole lot more. PLUS an even bigger selection of bottled beer. Prices are reasonable, ranging from 40rmb to 55rmb a pint. It's a craft beer drinker's haven. But it's not all good news, the staff still hasn't figured out how to pour properly. Getting a beer sometimes means waiting for 10-15 minutes. Right now it's only appetizers like fries and wings on the menu, although they plan to add mains soon. Tasting and snack nuts cost money. And they play EDM. Feels like Heaven. (Heaven Bar in Beijing that is.)
First Impression: The staff still has a few kinks to work out in their service. The music playlist could use a serious overhaul. But for many in the area, this could become a go-to neighborhood bar.
What it is: Baller “Modern Izakaya” restaurant Dozo original comes to us from Taiwan, sharing a name with a venue there, via the same company that was behind erstwhile Xintiandi live jazz staple Brown Sugar back in 2012. (These things always turn into history lessons in this city.) Of course, Shanghai stands still for no high-end Japanese restaurant, and in an effort to adapt to the times, they’ve overhauled the interiors, menu, and overall concept. They’re stepping away from the chic and lux and serious restaurant thing and, taking cues from game-changer Rockbund outpost The Nest, shifting to dining that turns into cocktails that turns into cocktails-plus-upscale bar food when you’re hungry again at 1am. They’ve got the funky beats now and are open until 2am on weekdays and 3am on weekends. Their mod-ish new menu starts at traditionally Japanese and then reaches for pan-Asian and Cali elements. Lots of play with the sushi and sashimi platters. Lots of avocado. They’ve got a Korean BBQ chicken dish paired with a Cali roll.
Price points are thus: 68rmb cocktails. And a nice meal would probably run you 200rmb to 400rmb. In a place that feels like it could be way more expensive.
First Impressions: In our grazing of the menu, the food was real decent. And competitively priced. Lots of creative elements on going on with the traditional Japanese without being real self-important about it. Liked it. (I'm so hip I'm the backlash against the fusion backlash; you're welcome.) We’d have to head back though at 2am, to see if the place holds up to a real test. They officially launch with it tomorrow (Friday, September 22) night.