Just riding this tasty wave of new venues right through the end of summer...
1. Noryangjin Fisheries
What It Is: Seoul's Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market is one of South Korea's biggest. It's similar to Tokyo's Tsukiji Fish Market, and they've been in the seafood game since 1927. Their first chain arrived in China this June, though it's more of a modern seafood restaurant with live seafood stands rather than a wholesale market. They're selling classic Korean seafood dishes, along with land foods like fried chicken and kimchijeon and drinks like soju and makgeolli, including some more innovative ones that'll look good on your Instagram.
Naturally, the first item on the menu is the most popular choice -- their seafood pot (pictured below). It's got about eight kinds of fresh seafood on top of soup that steams these treasures for about fifteen minutes. You can pick your own or let them choose. The pot comes with a plate of nurungji (scorched rice) and spicy sauce, which you can pour into the soup at the end.
Atmosphere: Big, colorful, and modern (perhaps to attract younger crowds), but somewhat tacky, because it's a restaurant in a tired office building trying to evoke a seaside atmosphere. They've got private dining rooms for those coming with friends or family.
Needless to say, they play Korean pop music here.
Damage: Similar to modern Korean restaurants in Shanghai. Around 150rmb per head will get you a pretty filling meal and a bottle of rice wine. King crab is 380rmb/500g; fresh scallops are 40–45rmb for two; sashimi ranges from 60rmb–120rmb. The pre-arranged seafood pot goes for 180rmb. Every table gets six complimentary cold dishes. They also have three–course lunch sets (also with cold dishes) for 45–50rmb. Seems like a solid deal.
First Impressions: Decent option for hearty Korean seafood dishes and classics without too heavy of a bill. The seafood looks and tastes fresh and clean, and their staff -- from the receptionists to the waiters -- are mostly Korean, which certainly helps cultivate that vibe. They could crank up the AC a bit stronger, though, considering people are mostly here for steamy hot food. Lunch runs until 2pm, and you'll need to book ahead if you go at night.
- Jin Qian
2. Boil & Broil
What It Is: The dining options at the Hubin Dao mall near Xintiandi are no longer confined to the basement food court. We're starting to see more and more positive developments, with venues like the new Farine branch and this French-Mediterranean brasserie.
As you've probably deduced from the name, the menu here focuses on shellfish and roast meats. Whole crab is the highlight of the "Boil" component. They're sold in quantities of 4–10kg and served with sauces and dips, corn on the cob, and focaccia bread. Other options include steamed mussels, a traditional bouillabaisse, a seafood selection over ice, or fresh imported oysters on the half shell. The "Broil" side involves roasted chickens, bone-in côte de beouf, and a mixed pork roast, featuring the loin, the belly, and black pudding. All of these are best supplemented with a starter like steak tartare or a charcuterie platter and perhaps a few sides, like roasted heirloom carrots, or green beans with garlic confit.
Atmosphere: Casual, easy, and neo-rustic, with buffed concrete, hardwoods, glazed tile backsplashes, and exposed ductwork. Once the weather cools, the outdoor terrace should prove to be a draw for the after-work crowd. That's the highlight here.
Damage: Prices range from 68rmb for a bowl of French onion soup to 788rmb for a seafood tower. Somewhere in between you've got mains. Two can get dinner for at least 500rmb, and that's sans booze.
First Impressions: It's nothing adventurous or out of the box, which is fine. It's a brasserie. Food, at least what we tried, is adequate, but not memorable. Nevertheless, once they work out some of the service hiccups, this could be a worthwhile option.
-- Justin F.
3. Farine on the Bund
What It Is: A French bakery by one of the kings of the Shanghai restaurant game, Franck Pecol. He's the guy who has people queuing for hours under the sun, just for an ice cream cone. The OG Farine bakery opened in Ferguson Lane years ago, but this year they expanded to the Hubin Dao mall by Xintiandi, the IFC in Pudong, and this charming old neighborhood. Just like the other Farine's, you're getting artisan breads, pastries, sandwiches, and coffee, with prices that match the quality of ingredients.
This neighborhood has become a bit of a French corridor these days, with the bakery at Joël Robuchon just around the corner, and bistrot Le Bordelais in this same building.
Atmosphere: Can't remember. Got lost in the almond croissant and strawberry cream tart. From what I can remember, it's comfortable, and more industrial chic than the Ferguson Lane shop, with concrete standing tables and wood floors. Were they playing music? Really can't recall...
Damage: Some bakeries do cheap. Franck's do not. Hey, importing flour across the continents ain't cheap. Croissants are around 20rmb; more lavish pastries go for about 40rmb; coffees, juices, and teas range from 30-48rmb. They do a breakfast set from 7am-10am, where you can choose a pastry 20rmb or under and a coffee for 38rmb.
First Impressions: Now you can wander this colorful neighborhood and peep the Rockbund Art Museum and the old hotels and embassies across the bridge with a choco banana-cream pastry or a mini ham baguette in hand. This is great news. Competition is heating up in Shanghai's bakery game.
-- Ian L.
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